Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Jewish Business News

History & Archeology

Oldest Cotton Ever Used found in Israel

Haifa University

Haifa University Prof. Danny Rosenberg holds the 7,200-year-old model clay grain silo found at Tel Tsaf in the Jordan Valley. (Haifa University)

The earliest evidence of the use of cotton fibers in the Ancient Near East, and among the oldest in the world, from about 7000 years ago, was found in Tel Tsef in the Jordan Valley, in an excavation led by Prof. Danny Rosenberg from the School of Archeology and Maritime Cultures at Haifa University and in a study done in collaboration with other researchers from Stanford University, and the State Museum in Hanover.

We take things like this for granted. Like fire and the wheel, no one thinks about what life was like before we had these things. But yes, there was a time before people figured out how to make clothing out of cotton. But this is just about cotton – not wool or linen, both of which also have fibers that can be woven into material for making clothing.

As with any crop – when people first went from just being hunter gatherers to learning how to farm – there was a period in which people needed to learn how to plant the seeds and make the crop grow. But unlike with edibles – like fruits and vegetables – cotton has no nutritional value and so there was no reason to use it. That is, not until they figured out that it could be used to make clothing.

Please help us out :
Will you offer us a hand? Every gift, regardless of size, fuels our future.
Your critical contribution enables us to maintain our independence from shareholders or wealthy owners, allowing us to keep up reporting without bias. It means we can continue to make Jewish Business News available to everyone.
You can support us for as little as $1 via PayPal at
Thank you.

And at some point – several thousand years later – the ancient Israelites adopted a practice whereby mixing linen and wool together to make material was forbidden.

The cotton fibers found at Tel Tsef predate the evidence found so far by several hundred years and they probably arrived at Tel Tsef from the Indus Valley region, present-day Pakistan, from a distance of thousands of kilometers. “Tel Tsef is a large village from the Chalcolithic period, which flourished during the transition period between the small agricultural societies and the large urban cities of the country. Until today we knew that the inhabitants of the site had trade relations with distant regions such as Egypt, Iraq and Anatolia, and now the circle of trade expands even further to the Indus Valley, where apparently cotton was first domesticated.

The researchers explained that what is interesting about this ancient evidence of a connection with such a distant region is that it comes from fibers, microscopic pieces of ancient threads.

Humans, they say, probably produced textile products already tens of thousands of years ago, using certain plants such as flax, for the fabric fibers they created. However, since fabrics and many other organic materials tend to break down quickly in conditions other than dry conditions or inorganic conditions, in a significant part of the sites in the Mediterranean climate areas it is rare to find them and the main evidence comes to us from late texts and paintings, or from the tools that were apparently used to produce the fibers and textile products.

Recently, however, researchers have begun to use new methods for locating organic findings, including microscopic and chemical tests that are able not only to locate evidence of plants but also to identify whether it is a fiber that was woven on purpose and what the plant was from which it was woven. “Part of the issue is that this type of evidence was almost never looked for in ancient sites and many times they don’t even try to find this type of find” said Prof. Rosenberg. “The main challenge, as in DNA research and organic materials research that we do at Tel Tsaf, is to prevent modern contamination of the sample. In the case of fiber and textile research, the challenge is to neutralize the entry of modern fibers into the sample, since cotton fibers can be found in most clothing items today.”



You May Also Like

World News

In the 15th Nov 2015 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:   ·         A new Israeli treatment brings hope to relapsed leukemia...


The Movie The Professional is what made Natalie Portman a Lolita.


After two decades without a rating system in Israel, at the end of 2012 an international tender for hotel rating was published.  Invited to place bids...

VC, Investments

You may not become a millionaire, but there is a lot to learn from George Soros.