Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


22 April 2011

Shells from Sarepta (Lebanon) and East Mediterranean purple-dye production

D.S. Reese Mediterranean Archaeology & Archaeometry 10.1 (2010): 113-141.


This paper concerns the shells from the 1969-74 excavations at Sarepta (Lebanon) under the direction of the late J.B. Pritchard (University of Pennsylvania). Most of the 500 marine shells, ranging in date from the LB I to Roman/Byzantine, are typical Mediterranean forms. Of special interest are three large accumulations of crushed Murex trunculus of LB II, LB III to Iron I, and LB III or Iron I date. The Sarepta shell purple-dye evidence is described in detail and is compared with the other evidence from the Eastern Mediterranean. The earliest purple production can be dated no earlier than the c. 1350 B.C. The evidence available today, suggests that shell purple-dye was produced first in the Aegean and Italy before being introduced into the Near East.

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