Archaeologists have found an extensive collection of 3,000-year-old fabrics of various colors and designs inside the Timna copper mines in Israel’s southern Negev Desert, a discovery that offers a glimpse into the fashion during the biblical period, specifically the eras of Kings David and Solomon, Tel Aviv University announced Wednesday.
The team also found thousands of seeds of the Holy Land’s “seven species” described in the Bible.
The arid conditions in the mines – which some believe were active during King Solomon’s reign — allowed for the “remarkable preservation” of the textiles and organic materials, the university said in press release announcing the discovery.
“No textiles have ever been found at excavation sites like Jerusalem, Megiddo and Hazor, so this provides a unique window into an entire aspect of life from which we’ve never had physical evidence before,” excavation director Erez Ben-Yosef said. “We found fragments of textiles that originated from bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords.”
Researchers believe the textiles shed light on the early Edomites, a semi-nomadic people believed to have worked the Timna mines.
“The wide variety of fabrics also provides new and important information about the Edomites, who, according to the Bible, warred with the Kingdom of Israel,” Ben-Yosef said. “We found simply woven, elaborately decorated fabrics worn by the upper echelon of their stratified society.”
“Luxury grade fabric adorned the highly skilled, highly respected craftsmen managing the copper furnaces. They were responsible for smelting the copper, which was a very complicated process,” Ben-Yosef explained.