Ancient textile may contain lost Biblical blue dye, Israeli researcher says

Digging History

Associated Press
  • 2,000-year old textile is blue color described in the Bible

    Dec. 31, 2013: A nearly 2,000-year old textile that appears to contain a mysterious blue color described in the Bible, one of the few remnants of the ancient color ever discovered. (AP PHOTO/CLARA AMIT, ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY, HOPD)

JERUSALEM –  An Israeli researcher says she has identified a nearly 2,000-year old textile that may contain a mysterious blue dye described in the Bible, one of the few remnants of the ancient color ever found.

Naama Sukenik of Israel’s Antiquities Authority said Tuesday that recent examination of a small woolen textile discovered in the 1950s found that the textile was colored with a dye from the Murex trunculus, a snail researchers believe was the source of the Biblical blue.

Researchers and rabbis have long searched for the enigmatic color, called tekhelet in Hebrew. The Bible commands Jews to wear a blue fringe on their garments, but the dye was lost in antiquity.

Sukenik examined the textile for a doctorate at Bar-Ilan University and published the finding at a Jerusalem conference Monday.