The latest in a series of archaeological digs that is shedding light on historical accuracies or inaccuracies in the Bible is taking place at Khirbat en-Nahas, a region south of the Dead Sea in what was once Edom and is today Jordan’s Faynan district.
Led by Thomas Levy of UC San Diego and Mohammad Najjar of Jordan's Friends of Archaeology, an international team of archaeologists have excavated what is believed to be an ancient copper-production center. The archaeologists have dug down to virgin soil through more than 20 feet of industrial slag, debris from heavy smelting.
The archaeological team found numerous artifacts – such as date seeds, sticks of tamarisk and woods used for charcoal – and using high precision radiocarbon dating and Bayesian analysis, dated the remains to the 10th and 9th century BCE. This puts the discovery in line with Biblical accounts of the time.
Furthermore, Egyptian artifacts were also found at the site. A scarab and an amulet were found in a layer of the excavation which is linked to a serious disruption in production that took place at about the end of the 10th century BCE. This could hesitantly link the site to the military campaign of Pharaoh Sheshonq I, known in the Bible as Shishak, who attempted to crush economic activity in the area following the death of King Solomon.
"With data from the first large-scale stratified and systematic excavation of a site in the southern Levant to focus specifically on the role of metallurgy in Edom,” said Levy, director of the Levantine Archaeology Lab at UCSD and associate director of the new Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture and Archaeology, “we have evidence that complex societies were indeed active in 10th and 9th centuries BCE and that brings us back to the debate about the historicity of the Hebrew Bible narratives related to this period."
Looking past the current discoveries, Levy and his team will hope to focus on who actually controlled the copper industry discovered – whether it be Kings David and Solomon, or maybe regional Edomite leaders not recorded in biblical texts – and the environmental impacts that the industry had on the region.
"We can't believe everything ancient writings tell us," Levy said. "But this research represents a confluence between the archaeological and scientific data and the Bible.
"Our work also demonstrates methods that are objective and enable researchers to evaluate the data in a dispassionate way. This is especially important for 'historical archaeologies' around the world where sacred texts – whether the Mahabharata in India or the Sagas of Iceland – and the archaeological record are arenas for fierce ideological and cultural debates."
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Did King Solomon Control the Ancient Copper Trade?: