A Bar-Ilan University researcher and lecturer says he has discovered the ‘Tolaat HaShani’ referred to in the Bible, and successfully extracted its dye. Dr. Zohar Amar, of the University’s Martin Szusz Department of Land of Israel Studies, recently announced his findings at a Bar Ilan conference. He explained to Arutz-7 today that Tolaat HaShani refers to the coccid (scale insect) used to produce the scarlet dye during the Biblical and Second Temple periods, for both sacred and secular purposes.

"It is one of the most valued coloring materials of the ancient world," he explained, "often mentioned in the Bible together with the [more familiar] blue (tchelet) and purple (argaman). We never knew what it was. It was thought that it was some kind of coccid from outside the Land of Israel - but we have now shown that it is made from something commonly found in the Land of Israel, right under our noses. It is very exciting to bridge over 2,000 years of history..."

Dr. Amar is the first person to successfully extract color from the coccid, from specimens he discovered in N'vei Tzuf, in southwestern Shomron. "The production process was fairly simple," he said. "I learned from Arab manuscripts from the Middle Ages that they would harvest the coccids at the right time, dry them, boil them with certain materials, and in this way receive the orange color." Asked how he knows that he had found the correct color, Amar explained,

"We checked many historical sources, the most important of which is Josephus, who was the last one to describe and document the existence of the 'shani' in the Temple. Josephus describes the color as symbolizing fire, which is orange - as opposed to the red that many think it is. Our production process also produced orange."

He said that 'shani' was used in the Temple for the curtain over the Ark, the High Priest's clothes, in preparing the ashes of the Red Cow, and in other forms. “After 2,000 years, we have succeeded in rediscovering the Tolaat HaShani native to Israel and the technique of producing [its color],” concluded Dr. Amar, who soon plans to publish the full findings of his research.