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King Solomon’s Mines?

January 31, 2014
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In 1969, archaeologists uncovered an Egyptian temple at Timna and, on the basis of this temple, dated the site to the 13th and 14th centuries BC when Egypt ruled the area—several centuries before King Solomon. However, recent archaeological excavations at Timna have yielded evidence that shows this hypothesis to be incorrect.

www.archaeology.tau.ac.il In a 2013 dig, archaeologist Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University, uncovered some materials at a site called “Slaves’ Hill” that date copper mining in the area to three centuries after the Egyptians ruled the Levant. Organic finds such as date and olive pits, textile fragments, rope, and fish and animal bones, well-preserved in the desert climate, have definitely dated the area to the 10th century BC, during the time King Solomon ruled Israel.

www.archaeology.tau.ac.il Slaves’ Hill is a large plateau containing numerous smelting furnaces and layers of copper slag. It was so named because early archaeologists could not imagine anyone enduring the intense desert conditions compounded by the heat of the furnaces except those who were forced to. That hypothesis, too, has been overturned. Food remnants recently found indicate that the copper miners and smelters were not slaves, but highly-skilled craftsmen who consumed a rich diet of beef, goat meat and mutton, as well as pistachios, dates, figs, olives, wheat, grapes and barley.

Could the 9,000 copper mines found at Timna have belonged to King Solomon, augmenting his already famed and fabulous wealth? Dr. Ben-Yosef says that they haven’t found anything to connect King Solomon to the mines and he speculates that it was the Edomites, a local semi-nomadic tribe, who worked in the mines, though no one yet knows for certain who operated them. Excavations will resume in February 2014.

Source: By Kathy DeGagné, BFP Staff Writer

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