King Solomon’s copper mines could really be his

Published on Wednesday, 23 October 2013 by Webmaster

King Solomon’s copper mines could really be his
With 10 date pits and one olive pit, researchers at Tel Aviv University have determined that Israel’s Timna Valley copper mines are from the time of the Bible’s King Solomon. History books will need to be revised.

In a dig led by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef, archeologists sent organic remains from the ancient copper mine to the world-renowned Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford in England, for carbon dating. The unit dated the pits to the 10th century BCE. This is when, according to the Bible, King Solomon ruled over the land.

Previous archeologists at the site in Israel's Arava Desert had dated the mines to the 13th century BCE and assumed they were under Egyptian control at the time."The mines are definitely from the period of King Solomon," says Ben-Yosef, a lecturer in the J. M. Alkow Department of Archaeology and ANE Cultures at Tel Aviv University. "They may help us understand the local society, which would have been invisible to us otherwise."

What makes the site particularly tricky to date is that the people who worked there were semi-nomadic tribesmen living in tents; they did not leave behind elaborate buildings or structures. Tents usually disappear over time. Ben-Yosef looked into what the smelters did leave behind: food remains.

His find lends support to the stories of the Bible. Could King Solomon have been as wealthy as believed? Maybe he collected money and products from the mining operation? Ben-Yosef can only speculate, but he believes that the mines were operated by the Edomites, a people who lived along the Jordan River and were influenced by the Judean Kingdom to the north. Copper was an important mineral used in the construction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

Before Ben-Yosef, pioneering Israeli archaeologist Beno Rothenberg drew a connection to Egypt after finding a small Egyptian temple at Timna. Up until then, it was thought that King Solomon had controlled the mines – hence their name. Rothenberg wasn't a fan of carbon dating, says Ben-Yosef, who scanned through the late researcher's footnotes. He decided to dig deeper into the truth. 
"We now have a strong indication that the mines are not Egyptian, but from the days of the Iron Age," says Ben-Yosef.

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