An Israeli researcher says she has identified a nearly 2,000-year-old textile that may contain a mysterious blue dye described in the Bible, one of the few remnants of the ancient colour that has ever been found.

Naama Sukenik of Israel's Antiquities Authority said Tuesday that recent examination of a small woollen textile discovered in the 1950s found that the textile was coloured with a dye from the Murex trunculus, a snail researchers believe was the source of the biblical blue.

Researchers and rabbis have long searched for the enigmatic colour, called tekhelet in Hebrew. The Bible commands Jews to wear a blue fringe on their garments, but the dye was lost in antiquity.

Sukenik examined the textile for a doctorate at Bar-Ilan University and published the finding at a Jerusalem conference Monday.