I’ve seen an interesting claim in various places that ancient (Bronze Age) cultures didn’t have any concept of the colour blue in their respective languages, but that they described things that we would recognise today as blue by conflating it with other colours. For example, Homer’s Odyssey describes the sea as being “wine-red.”
Even the Japanese language today apparently similarly blurs the distinction between blue and green, with the result that their traffic signals use lights that appear distinctly blue to mean “go”:
Reading this made me curious about what the Bible has to say about the colour blue. I’ve seen claims that ancient Hebrew had no distinct concept of the colour blue. But most modern Bible translations include several references to the colour blue from Exodus all the way through to the New Testament. Apparently there is a Hebrew word, tekhelet, mentioned forty-nine times in the Bible that refers to a particular shade of the colour blue that, among other things, was used in the clothing of the high priests:
So a couple of different claims here. On the one hand, we’re told that people of early Bible times didn’t have any clear concept of the colour blue, but on the other hand, it seems that they had a well-defined concept of the colour blue right back to the time of Moses, to the extent of attaching particular spiritual significance to it.
What should I make of it? Would the real perception of the colour blue by people of Bible times please stand up?