Does this piece of fabric contain the sacred "Biblical blue" dye?
A researcher in Israel says she has discovered evidence of a sacred blue dye called tekhelet that was used in ancient times to color the tzitzit, or tassles, of a Jewish man's traditional garment.
The elusive tekhelet dye, used in accordance with a sacred Torah commandment, could only be made through an extremely expensive and time-intensive process using excretions from a sea snail called the Murex trunculus, Discovery Magazine reports. The dye has been lost throughout the years but remains a prize for some biblical archaeologists.
Dr. Na‘ama Sukenik, a researcher with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), announced her results after analyzing 180 different textile specimens dating back to the Roman period, according to an IAA statement. All of the samples were collected decades earlier from Judean Desert caves south of the region where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.
The piece of cloth Sukenik believes holds elusive dye is made of wool, meaning the cloth was likely dyed in a way consistent with the process used to achieve the tekhelet hue, according to the IAA.
"The importance of this fabric is extremely significant as there are practically no parallels for it in the archaeological record," the statement noted.
Sukenik presented her findings Dec. 30 at a special conference in Jerusalem dedicated to the the subject of tekhelet, Haaretz reports. Sukenik said the cloth, which was actually found in the 1950s, may have been left in the caves by Jewish fighters hiding during the second century Bar Kokhba revolt.