Times Will Tell

PODCAST: ‘Biblical’ royal purple cloth, and all about radiocarbon dating

It’s Archaeology 101 with two of Israel’s leading scholars: Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef on excavations at Timna; and Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto breaks down radiocarbon dating for dummies

Welcome to Times Will Tell, the weekly podcast from The Times of Israel.
In this week’s episode, we have two in-depth interviews with two of Israel’s leading archaeological scholars.

First, we’ll speak with Tel Aviv University Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef, who since 2013 has led the excavations at Timna, on the site of the fabled King Solomon Copper Mines and their surrounding smelting grounds. As you’ll hear, the excavation is currently concentrating on the Iron Age activities of the nomadic Edomite kingdom.

The team has uncovered all sorts of 3,000-year-old artifacts, including three incredibly rare textiles that are dyed with the precious “argaman” or true purple that is mentioned in the Bible.

Read this article on the true purple textile discoveries

Based on Ben-Yosef’s excavations at Timna, as well as other Iron Age archaeological evidence in the Land of Israel, he will explain his theory of a nomadic early Israelite United Monarchy.

Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures (courtesy)

The second half of our program is devoted to an interview with Weizmann Institute of Science Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto, an internationally recognized leading expert in radiocarbon dating. She generously explains the basics of radiocarbon dating — from its inception until its use today.

Part of what makes the work done in Boaretto’s lab so noteworthy is that, unlike most pure scientists, she and her team are regularly out in the field working alongside the archaeologists in collecting secure samples.

Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto, Head of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s D-REAMS Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory (courtesy)

We delve into an aspect of a new hands-on study that eventually saw Boaretto looking at an old find — an almost 4,000-year-old olive branch — which is the only remaining organic sample from the pivotal volcanic eruption on the Greek island of Santorini. Through new experiments on 70-year-old olive branches and work discerning their tree rings, Boaretto offers a new resolution to an ongoing debate over the timing of the eruption.

The Times of Israel podcasts are available for download on iTunesSoundcloudTuneIn, Pocket CastsStitcher, PlayerFM or wherever you get your podcasts.

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