High prestige Royal Purple dyed textiles from the Bronze Age royal tomb at Qatna, Syria

Matthew A. James, Nicole Reifarth, Anna J. Mukherjee, Matthew P. Crump, Paul J. Gates, Peter Sandor, Francesca Robertson, Richard P. Evershed*, Peter Pfälzner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


During the on going excavations in the palace of the famous Qatna complex, the excavators noted patches of brown staining on the floor of a high status tomb. Chemical extraction revealed the presence of brominated derivatives of indigo and indirubin, and more detailed characterisation showed that it likely came from Hexaplex trunculus. In short, this was none other than the renowned Tyrian or Royal Purple mentioned by Pliny, which was to have such an influential career colouring the clothing of the powerful. Furthermore, it was associated in the tomb with ghosts of high quality textiles preserved in gypsum.

Translated title of the contributionHigh prestige Royal Purple dyed textiles from the bronze-age Royal tomb at Qatna, Syria
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1118
Number of pages10
Issue number322
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

Bibliographical note

Other: No DOI for this journal


  • Qatna
  • Syria
  • royal tomb
  • sediments
  • biomarkers
  • indigoids
  • indirubinoids
  • shellfish purple
  • textiles
  • gypsum
  • chemical mapping
  • excavation technique


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