An extensive collection of well-preserved 3000-year-old materials, including fabrics, leather and seeds, have been uncovered by Tel Aviv University’s archaeologists in Israel’s Arava Valley. The team says this discovery provides the physical evidence of the economy, cultural and trade practices of the Holy Land during the reign of the historical kings of Israel, Kings David and Solomon.
Orit Shamir, a senior researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority who led the study of the fabrics, claims the fabrics which vary in color, ornamentation and weaving technique resemble the textiles from the Roman era. Apparently, the fabrics have originated from bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords and some of which measure 5×5 centimetres.
Lead archaeologist Erez Ben-Yosef adds that majority of the fabrics were made of sheep’s wool, which used to be rare. Hence, this as well as the non-local linen found, explains how developed and sophisticated the craft and trade networks were during this era.
The textiles also give a glimpse on the lives of the early Edomites, a semi-nomadic group of people who operated the mines at Timna. Moreover, the team also claim that they found thousands of Biblical “Seven Species” seeds, which are two grains and five fruits that compose the seven agricultural products unique to the Land of Israel. Ben-Yosef notes that these will allow scientists to reconstruct the wine typically consumed during King David’s time.
“The possession of copper was a source of great power, much as oil is today,” Ben-Yosef says. “If a person had the exceptional knowledge to ‘create copper,’ he was considered well-versed in an extremely sophisticated technology. He would have been considered magical or supernatural, and his social status would have reflected this.”
Smelting copper, turning the stone into metal, needed great skills and organisation. The copper ingots, produced by a smelter from stones excavated by slaves or prisoners, were highly sought-after and have been used to create tools and weapons. This makes copper the most valuable resource in ancient civilisations.