The Phoenicians used a certain type of snail from the sea, in a particularly stinky process, to extract minute amounts of purple dye. The dye was used to color fabric, usually made into clothing for royalty, since the dye was quite expensive.
We decided to do a modern day version of this project using blueberries, following the directions in the Story of the World Activity Guide. A bag of frozen blueberries yielded about a half a cup of dye after we strained out the berry skins.
We dunked white yarn into the dye, as well as a dozen large pasta noodles. Even though each item was only in the dye for a few seconds, everything turned a very dark purple, almost black. The yarn was very stiff and had bits of dried blueberry on it so we decided to wash it. The end result was a pretty lavender colored yarn with a sort of tie-dye effect. Note: do not attempt to rinse the pasta, even quickly. We immediately lost a few pieces to breakage.
And here is our model, trying to eat one of our fashionable necklaces.
In fact, she spent the better part of our school day, sneaking up on the kids from underneath tables and around corners and trying to nibble on the necklaces they were wearing. Silly pup.
You can also read about our other ancient Phoenician project, making a ship and playing the Phoenician Trading Game.
You can see all of our ancient history projects here.
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