Continuing discoveries in the Timna Valley in southern Israel near the Gulf of Aqaba show the widespread and dominant influence of Solomon’s kingdom.
At Fox News, James Rogers reports about new findings at the extensive copper mining operations at Timna. In “King Solomon-era fort in southern Israel reveals its secrets,” he shares the new radiocarbon data from organic remains at a fortress near the mines that dates to the reigns of David and Solomon.
The gatehouse complex, which dates to the 10th century B.C., was unearthed in Southern Israel’s Timna Valley in 2014. Recent analysis of organic remains found within the fortification’s donkey stables, however, has given experts vital clues about the people who inhabited the fort.
Experts were able to study animal bones and dung preserved in the hyper-arid climate of the Timna Valley. “When we uncovered the stables, the material was so well preserved and ‘fresh’ that we could not believe it is 3,000 years old,” Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology, one of the excavation leaders, told FoxNews.com via email. “Only when the dates came back from the lab we were reassured that indeed these were the remains of stables and other activities from the time of David and Solomon.”
Researchers were even able to determine what the soldiers fed their donkeys and other animals.
Built of sturdy stone to defend against invasions, the fortification had pens for draft animals and other livestock. By studying pollen, seed and fauna in the dung, experts found that the animals were fed with hay and the remains of grapes, which was delivered from the Mediterranean coast hundreds of miles away.
An extensive communications network would have been required to establish trade links and defense capabilities hundreds of miles from the coast and from the capital in Jerusalem. “The evidence demonstrates long-distance connections with the Mediterranean region,” said Ben-Yosef. Timna is about 150 miles south of Jerusalem, and about 220 miles from Acco, if that could be considered one of the nearest ports for delivery of animal feed.
The Timna site, discovered in 1934 and first thought to be a slave camp, turned out to be much more. Ben-Yosef proved in 2014 that the Iron Age remains were not from a slave camp, but indicated a “hierarchical, sophisticated society.” Finds like this overthrow revisionist notions that David and Solomon were mere tribal chieftans with limited knowledge and influence. Timna speaks of a kingdom capable of widespread trade, coordinated defenses, and sophisticated resources. Engravings show that Timna was under Egyptian control in the first half of the 12th century BC under pharoah Rameses III, but that was two centuries later.
The fact that the two-room fortification is located within one of the largest ancient smelting plants in the Timna Valley is particularly important, according to Ben-Yosef. “Until now we didn’t have evidence for military conflicts in the copper mines of Timna at this period,” he told FoxNews.com. “Moreover, they are in accord with the biblical accounts depicting wars between David and the Edomites who inhabited this region.”
The archaeologist added that, with biblical historians hotly debating these accounts, any evidence is of great importance.
Work is continuing under the auspices of Tel Aviv University.
Update 1/14/17: Live Science says that the remains do not indicate a diet of slaves. Instead, “the metalworkers ate good cuts of meat, pistachios and fish imported from the Mediterranean, suggesting they had a rather high status and were valued for their craft.”
When you hear archaeologists scoff at Biblical narratives, stating that they have only “spiritual” meaning for “faith” but don’t represent actual history, just wait. Further evidence usually shows the critics wrong. Two documentaries about the Exodus, Patterns of Evidence and The Exodus Revealed illustrate that theme clearly. Experts can be wrong, just as they are about evolution. Taught the consensus in the universities, their biases reinforce each other. The scoffing often comes first – then the interpretation of evidence. Remove the scoffing attitude, look at the evidence with an open mind, and conflicts with Scripture often evaporate.