Most Ancient Dyestuff on Record
◆ It was not so easy in Bible times to dye a cloth a certain color, for no synthetic dyes were then known. Some of the materials used by the Israelites for the Tabernacle were dyed “coccus scarlet.” (Ex. 25:4; 26:1; 35:6) This phrase is used in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, rather than just the word “scarlet,” and refers to what some authorities believe to be the most ancient dyestuff on record. It comes from a small scale insect that lives on the Kermes oak, a dwarf, often shrubby, evergreen oak in the Mediterranean regions, very common in dry places. The males are capable of flight but the females are wingless, living the greater part of their lives almost motionless. The bodies of the females swell after mating, and, at this time, before the eggs are extruded, the round, pea-like insects were collected in great numbers and then dried. When put in water, these dried insects made a beautiful, deep-red dye. The Greeks used this insect dyestuff under the name of kokkos (coccus) and the Arabians under the name of kermes, whence is derived the English word “crimson.” The kermes or coccus scarlet was long used as the most brilliant red dye known.