Color Late Bronze Age Hala Sultan Tekke Purple

In recently concluded excavators at Hala Sultan Tekke uncovered a manufacturing district from the Late Bronze Age.
Perhaps the rather extensive copper production area with its copper ore, slag (hundreds of kilograms of it), and clay pipes is the most impressive discovery but I found this abnormally interesting.

Close to the copper production site a room was excavated in which large vessels were found filled with murex shells from which purple dye was extracted. The shells, in connection with finds associated with the production of textiles, such as spindle whorls and loom weights, point to the manufacturing of one of the most expensive products in the Bronze Age: purple dyed textiles. (News Network – Archeology)

The work on Cyprus is important for at least two reasons. First, the history of Cyprus is important for its own sake. Second, Cyprus was an important locus where east met west. As the News Network piece concludes,

The high standard of living of the Cypriots during the Bronze Age was not only a result of the production of copper but also of the export of high quality Cypriot pottery and purple textiles. In exchange, the Cypriots imported gold, silver, lead, and art objects mainly from Greece, Egypt and the Levant. There is also evidence for the import of dried fish from the Nile in Egypt.

The article notes the unearthing of Levantine imports. I wish it told us more about them. Alas, I fear we must await the formal excavation publication.

2 thoughts on “Color Late Bronze Age Hala Sultan Tekke Purple”

  1. I came across something interesting the other day: it’s a photo of what is thought to be Charlemagne’s death shroud and it’s presumably the real deal: Tyrian purple or argaman, the color of clotted blood just the way Pliny said.
    I also found a photo of a tablet bearing what is said to be a recipe for the stuff. I can’t read cuneiform yet, though, and I don’t know if it’s been transcribed. Still, bit by bit.

  2. Joe,
    Thanks for the info. All but a more recently identified fragment of the British Museum tablet you referenced was published by Erle Leichty, “A Collection of Recipes for Dyeing” in Studies in Honor of Tom B. Jones (eds., Marvin A. Powell, Jr. and Ronald H. Sack; AOAT 203; Kevelaer: Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1979) 15-20. AOAT 203 is at my local research library. I plan to take a look at it in the next few days.

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