The Price of Purple: Archaeologists have found new evidence of a robust dye industry that endured on the Mediterranean coast for millennia
Archaeology Magazine, Nov/Dec 2020
Written by Sara Toth Stub/Photo by Michael Eisenberg
“Elgavish (first excavator of Tel Shikmona 1960’s) collected thousands of artifacts. These include the stained pottery, weaving and spinning equipment, carved figurines, and hundreds of storage vessels. He portrayed the site as a residential Israelite city that flourished in the tenth century B.C. After sorting through the artifacts and documents, however, Shalvi and Gilboa view it differently, seeing Tel Shikmona not as a city but as an industrial site focused on the dye industry, especially between the tenth and sixth centuries B.C. Further, they believe that defining the site as exclusively Israelite does not reflect the region’s complexity. Some archaeological layers also contain evidence of the Phoenicians, whose coastal territories lay to the north of the Israelites’ settlements.”
From “the tenth to the sixth centuries B.C.” this was Phoenician–not Israelite even though it was predictably determined to be “exclusively Israelite” by Elgavish. Once again here is archaeology determined by theo-political presuppositions and not evidence. Good to see that Shalvi and Gilboa are sticking with the evidence at hand. Perhaps we are finally moving into what I call the third wave of archaeology in this area of the world. Smart, scientific scholars have abandoned “biblical” archaeology (first) and finally beginning to expose “Israeli” archaeology (second) with all its flaws, hidden assumptions, and theo-political agendas. Good scholars are turning to the Syro-Palestinian wave (third) wherein we follow the evidence no matter where it leads, truly understand the magnitude of the complexities of those transitional periods, and utilize informed, scientific ethnographies of the citizens of the plains and hills, villages and cities. I suspect, as the evidence continues to comes forward, that we will find a significant presence and impress of Phoenician culture on this formerly so-called “Israelite” culture(s) leading all the way to Tel Dan and Samaria to name two. This article is one more example. Sadly, though, the writer of this article is still stuck in the second wave. “North of the Israelite settlements”? What are these? Where are these? During what time periods? What defines an Israelite settlement? If the time period is 10th-6th centuries BCE, then how can anyone say with seriousness “north of the Israelite settlements”?