So a few weeks ago, a very exciting paper was published about the discovery of the royal purple at timna. Can you tell us a little more about this discovery?
We have been excavating in Timna Valley for the past eight years. Every year for a few weeks. As you know, Timna is next to the city of Eilat, it's deep in the desert. And it's an ancient copper-mining area. People came to this area to mine copper. And one of the unique things about this area is the preservation of organic materials. So it's one of the only places where we excavate in Israel and we can find organic remains like textiles and leather and ropes and other things like that that you usually don't find in regular excavations. And every year, we've had a little bit of textile fragments coming out of the excavation.
So we knew that we have this unique collection of textiles and fabrics, and some of them were with a little bit of color. But the big surprise came from the lab. We're working with Dr. Naama Sukenik from the Israel Antiquities Authority, and we take the materials from the excavations and we try to understand what was the color made from, what was the dying stuff that they were using to color the fabrics. And one day, like about a year ago or less than a year ago, she called me into the office saying "You know, we found the royal purple here in Timna from a fabric that is dated 3,000 years old." I said "That's impossible, it's too early for that, it's deep in the desert," and you need to understand this color is the most expensive color at the time. It was made out of see snails in a very sophisticated process of manufacturing, so it didn't make sense that it was real purple. But we checked it again and again in the lab, and it is indeed the true purple, which is mentioned in the bible many times. In Hebrew, it's called the Argaman.
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