Archaeologists dig up fabrics dating back to kings David and Solomon

Rope made of the fibers of a date palm tree found at Site 34. Photo by Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquitites Authority
The excavation of a metallurigical workshop at Site 34, Central Timna Valley Project. Photo courtesy of ,courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

The excavation of a metallurgical workshop at Site 34, Central Timna Valley Project. Photo courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

JERUSALEM (RNS) Israeli archaeologists have discovered fragments of “remarkably preserved” 3,000-year-old fabrics, leather and seeds dating to the era of the biblical kings David and Solomon.

This is the first discovery of textiles dating from the 10th century B.C. “and therefore provides the first physical evidence” of what residents of the Holy Land wore, said Erez Ben-Yosef, the lead archaeologist with the Tel Aviv University excavation team that did the dig.

The excavation, carried out in southern Israel at the ancient copper mines of Timna — believed by many to be the site of King Solomon’s mines — took place in late January and February.

The textiles, just 5-by-5 centimeters in size, are the remnants of clothing, tents, ropes, cords and bags. They were preserved thanks to Timna’s extremely dry conditions, the archaeologist said.

Rope made of the fibers of a date palm tree found at Site 34. Photo by Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquitites Authority

Rope made of the fibers of a date palm tree found at Site 34. Photo by Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

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Ben-Yosef said the fabrics, which vary widely in weaving style, color and ornamentation, provide “new and important information” about the Edomites, the descendants of Esau who often fought against the Israelites and mined in Timna.

Luxury-grade fabric adorned the highly skilled, highly respected craftsmen managing the copper furnaces,” said Ben-Yosef. “They were responsible for smelting the copper, which was a very complicated process.”

Vanessa Workman, a member of the excavating and analysis team, said the Hebrew Bible is chock-full of references to fabrics and dyes. “Blue colors and green colors and red colors and what the high priest wore, the tabernacles. Linens, woolen fabrics.”

Workman said the discovery at Timna “is an affirmation” of biblical texts. “It brings the desert culture of that period alive.”

(Michele Chabin is RNS’ Jerusalem correspondent)

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  • Yes, both kings, David and Solomon, certainly did exist as testified to in the Bible. We can still learn much now from their respective strengths and weaknesses, as well as how merciful and forgiving God can be.

  • The question here is whether the Edomites really existed or was that just the name given by judeans. The Bible is many things but a historical account isn’t one of them.

  • Yoh,

    The Edomites, as descendants of Esau, we’re basically a Semitic race, but with a strong Hamitic strain (as 2 of Esau’s wives were from Hamitic Canaanite stock (Hittite and Hivite); only 1 wife named was part Semitic through Abraham’s son Ishmael (Gen. 36:2,3). The Edomites, like Lot’s descendants, the Moabites and Ammonites (note Daniel 11:41), were related to the Israelites, and originally practiced circumcision (Jer. 9:25, 26; compare Ezekiel 32:29). Yahweh referred to them as Israel’s “brothers”, and Edomite land rights were held inviolable by the Israelites advancing through the wilderness, since Yahweh granted Edom’s descendants Mount Seir as a holding (Deut. 2:1-8).

    Originally formed into sheikdoms, Edomite tribes were later organized under a kingdom. The royal line of succession indicates kings came from different tribes, hence not taking the throne on a hereditary family basis (Gen. 36:15-19, 31-43).

  • Do you have a source for that besides the Bible? Probably not. The Bible is not a reliable historical document. Claiming it is the word of god makes it less so.

    It’s responses like yours which make the professional archaeologists dismiss their biblical archaeologist counterparts as unprofessional amateur dish!ts with a heavy confirmation bias.

  • Please enlighten us with all of the scholarly sources you have drawn from to come to the conclusion that the Bible is not a historical account.

  • Here is a good place to start

    1. No evidence of the Exodus comes to mind.

    2. A account which includes miracles and impossible acts is mythology, not history. The Bible’s historicity is on par with The Iliad and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Any relation to a historical account are purely incidental.

    3. The assumption that the Bible is a historical account is based entirely on religious belief, not evidence or objective study. The constant strain of confirmation bias renders Biblical Archaeology a complete crock. Biblical Archaeologists have a forgone conclusion and look for evidence to confirm it rather than the more honest reverse to such an approach.

    I can go on….

  • My research 9
    was exclusively done on the Bible and not any human references, which is very explanatory about the Edomites.

    The Bible predicted the exact order of world powers, in the exact same order, some of which were made way in advance of their creation.

    The prophet Daniel described an image looking like a human made of different elements (Daniel 2:28, 31-33). They included:

    1. Babylon, the head of gold (Daniel 2:32,36-38; 7:4). In 607 B.C.E., King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem.

    2. Medo-Persia, the chest and arm of silver (Daniel 2:32,35; 7:5). In 539 B.C.E., Medo-Persia conquered Babylon. In 537 B.C.E., Cyrus, its King, decreed the return of the Jews to Jerusalem.

    3. Greece, the abdomen and thighs of copper (Daniel 2:32,39; 7:6). In 331 B.C.E., Alexander the Great conquered Persia.

    4. Rome, the legs of iron (Daniel 2:33,40; 7:7). In 63 B.C.E., Rome ruled over Israel. In 70 C.E., Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple.

  • Why can’t readers who are interested in the content of an article be free to remark and make comments without their faith – including respect of the Bible – being attacked. Its very discouraging that about anything causes someone else to gripe and criticize. Go read something else if you don’t like the views of people who are interested.

  • The Bible may not be perfectly accurate and may have lost much in translations but it still is an amazing document that has stood the test of time

  • The King of Babylon’s dream…He may have never gotten past the idea that his kingdom was the Gold one…. Never the less, Daniel’s interpretation has been right on as history. the last 5000 years or so. What is not mentioned here is the feet of Clay mixed with Iron…. Our immediate future. & that breakage with a rod will bring it all of civilization down …