Tuesday, October 28, 2008

King Solomon's mines found? Bible & History

Newsweek reports:

King Solomon, who assumed the throne of the kingdom of Israel after the death of his father King David, was renowned for his great wealth no less than for his great wisdom. But as always with the Bible, scholars have a field day arguing over the account’s historical accuracy. On one count, at least—the story of King Solomon’s mines—archaeologists think they have evidence that the story was more than a legend.

An excavation led by Thomas Levy of the University of California, San Diego, and Mohammad Najjar of Jordan’s Friends of Archaeology has unearthed what they identify as an ancient center for copper production at Khirbat en-Nahas. Located in the lowlands of a desolate, arid region south of the Dead Sea in what was once the Kingdom of Edom, which the Old Testament describes as a foe of Israel, it is now the Faynan district of Jordan. As they are reporting in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, radiocarbon analysis dates the site as from the 10th century BCE, when David and Solomon would have ruled and about 300 years earlier than scholars thought. It is by no means certain that Solomon (or David) controlled the mines, but at least the dates now match.

Earlier work by Levy and Najjar, The New York Times reported in 2006, “len[t] credence to biblical accounts of the rivalry between Edom and the Israelites in what was then known as Judah. . . . [T]his supported the tradition that Judah itself had by the time of David and Solomon, in the early 10th century, emerged as a kingdom with ambition and the means of fighting off the Edomites.” [...]

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