Early evidence (late 2ndmillennium BCE) of plant-based dyeing of textiles from Timna, Israel

Naama Sukenik, David Iluz, Zohar Amar, Alexander Varvak, Vanessa Workman, Orit Shamir, Erez Ben-Yosef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we focus on the analysis of dyed textile fragments uncovered at an early Iron Age (11th-10thcenturies BCE) copper smelting site during new excavations in the Timna Valley conducted by the Central Timna Valley (CTV) Project, as well as those found by the Arabah Expedition at the Hathor Temple (Site 200), dated to the Late Bronze/early Iron Ages (13th-11thcenturies BCE). Analysis by HPLC-DAD identified two organic dyestuffs, Rubia tinctorum L. and indigotin, from a plant source (probably Isatis tinctoria L.). They are among the earliest plants known in the dyeing craft and cultivated primarily for this purpose. This study provides the earliest evidence of textiles dyed utilizing a chemical dyeing process based on an industrial dyeing plant from the Levant. Moreover, our results shed new light on the society operating the copper mines at the time, suggesting the existence of an elite that was interested in these high quality textiles and invested efforts in procuring them by long-distance trade.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0179014
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2017

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