The Edelstein Center

The Edelstein Center was founded in the summer of 1991 by the late Dr. Sidney M. Edelstein (of blessed memory), a textile chemist, founder and President of the Dexter Chemical Corporation in the Bronx, New York.  Dr. Edelstein and his late wife, Mildred (of blessed memory), were members of the International Board of Governors of the Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat-Gan, Israel, until his untimely passing in 1994.  In the spring of that same year, the building of the new laboratory facilities for the Center at Shenkar was completed, which was celebrated in a ceremonious dedication in the presence of the former President of the State of Israel, the late Chaim Herzog.

Israel is a country blessed with many historically important archaeological treasures.  This combination of archaeology and love of Israel is what motivated Dr. Sidney M. Edelstein to establish a center for the analysis of ancient artifacts, especially in the study of the country’s archaeological textiles, at the Shenkar College in Israel.  Dr. Edelstein, a benevolent philanthropist, was also deeply involved in supporting various educational institutions throughout Israel.

Dr. Edelstein’s basic goal for the Center was for it to analyze the many textile artifacts stored at the Israel Antiquities Authority, museums, departments of archaeology, and other Israeli institutions.  The aim would be to scientifically analyze Israeli artifacts in Israel; in other words: what’s found in Israel, is studied in Israel.  Science and archaeology would be combined to record the treasures of our national heritage for future generations.  As there was no such center in existence in Israel prior to the establishment of the Edelstein Center, much work was needed to help launch this center from a vacuum to its present form.

The Edelstein Center, directed since its inception by Prof. Zvi C. Koren, utilizes sophisticated analytical chemical instrumentation to help extract historically important information primarily regarding the technologies, textile dyes, and artists’ pigments associated with ancient colorants used through various historic periods and geographical regions.  Analysis of the chemical data and of the historical record assists in revealing the origins of the textiles, colorants and dyeing techniques.  This multi-disciplinary research combines analytical chemistry with archaeology, history, malacology, entomology, botany, and religion.    

These investigations help in understanding the “scientific art” involved with the ancient technologies and techniques of textile dyeing.  Comparisons between textile samples found in various areas within the region would increase our knowledge of international trade and commerce in ancient times.  In addition, the study of ancient textiles enhances our understanding of the habits and living patterns of our ancestors and adds greatly to comprehending our national heritage.  In the religious-historical area, such analyses will help to decipher the mysteries associated with the sources and true colors of the biblical textile dyes – Tekhelet, Argaman, and Shani.  Additionally, analysis of the textile fibers and weaving techniques are invaluable in developing methods for the conservation of these organic artifacts.  In the field of conservation science, new materials for the preservation of organic artifacts have been formulated and analyzed.  Research in these areas has been undertaken in cooperation with antiquities authorities, archaeologists and museums both in Israel and abroad.

Some of the instruments available to the Center include the following:

  • High-Performance Liquid Chromatograph (HPLC) coupled with a Photo-Diode Array (PDA) Detector
  • Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) Spectrometer
  • Gas Chromatograph – Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS)
  • Ultraviolet/Visible (UV-Vis) Spectrometer
  • Atomic Absorption (AA) Spectrometer
  • Portable Colorimetric Reflectance Spectrophotometer
  • Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)   

In a relatively short period of time since its inception in the early 1990’s, the Edelstein Center has made a major impact in the field of archaeological science. It plays a prominent role among international archaeologists, museum curators, and scientists involved with ancient dyes, pigments, and related organic artifacts.

Today, the Center is the only institution in the Middle East that is dedicated to scientific analyses of ancient colorants.  In addition, it has expanded its dye-analysis activities and has established international collaborative projects with other institutions around the world.  In a relatively short period of time, the Edelstein Center has made an impact in the field of archaeological textile science.  It has played a prominent role among Israeli archaeologists and researchers of ancient textile artifacts.  The Center is an active resource capable of evolving and adapting to the future needs of research in antique textiles.  The results of such investigations are disseminated through lectures and publications.

Thanks to the efforts and support of the Sidney M. Edelstein Foundation, Israel has now joined the international family that is devoted to archaeological textile science.

For a biography of Dr. Sidney Edelstein, please click here.