The Rarest Blue: The Remark­able Sto­ry of an Ancient Col­or Lost to His­to­ry and Rediscovered

Baruch Ster­man with Judy Taubes Sterman
  • From the Publisher
February 25, 2013

For cen­turies, blue and pur­ple dyed fab­rics ranked among the ancient world’s most desir­able objects, com­mand­ing many times their weight in gold. Few peo­ple knew their secrets, care­ful­ly guard­ing the valu­able knowl­edge, and strict laws reg­u­lat­ed their pro­duc­tion and use. The Rarest Blue tells the incred­i­ble sto­ry of tekhelet, the elu­sive sky-blue col­or men­tioned through­out the Bible. Minoans dis­cov­ered it; Phoeni­cians stole it; Roman emper­ors revered it; and Jews — obey­ing a com­mand­ment to affix a thread of it to their gar­ments — risked their lives for it. But as the Roman Empire dis­solved, the col­or van­ished. Then, in the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, a marine biol­o­gist mar­veled as yel­low snail guts smeared on a fisherman’s shirt turned blue. But what had caused this incred­i­ble trans­for­ma­tion? Mean­while, a Hasidic mas­ter obsessed with the ancient tech­nique posit­ed that the source of the dye was no snail but a squid. Bit­ter con­tro­ver­sy divid­ed Euro­pean Jews until a bril­liant rab­bi proved one side wrong. But had an unscrupu­lous chemist deceived them? In this rich­ly illus­trat­ed book, Baruch Ster­man bril­liant­ly recounts the amaz­ing sto­ry of this sacred dye that changed the col­or of history.

Read Baruch and Judy Ster­man’s Posts for the Vis­it­ing Scribe

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