ARE these the gates to King Solomon’s mines? Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a fortified trading post dating to the earliest days of the ancient Jewish state. Researchers from Tel Aviv University have uncovered what they call an ‘advanced’ military fortification in the Timna Valley, in Israel’s south.
It’s a site that’s long been associated with the legend of King Solomon’s mines. Dating techniques indicate the structure, and the cluster of copper smelting camps it protects, is about 3000 years old. That puts it squarely in the era of stories attribute to Solomon’s and King David’s reign.
Biblical archaeologists are elated: “The historical accuracy of the Old Testament accounts is debated, but archeology can no longer be used to contradict them,” says archaeologist Dr Erez Ben-Yosef, one of the research teams’ leaders. “On the contrary, our new discoveries are in complete accordance with the description of military conflicts against a hierarchical and centralised society located south of the Dead Sea.”
“While there is no explicit description of ‘King Solomon’s mines’ in the Old Testament, there are references to military conflicts between Israel and the Edomites in the Arava Valley,” says Dr Ben-Yosef. But the location has been linked to Biblical accounts.
“According to the Bible,” Dr Ben-Yosef says, “David travelled hundreds of miles outside of Jerusalem and engaged in military conflict in the desert — striking down ‘18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt.’
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