Archaeology Magazine

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New Dates on “King Solomon-Era” Copper Mines

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

CTV1TEL AVIV, ISRAEL— Archaeologists say that new excavations in Israel’s Timna Valley are showing that ancient copper mines there were not controlled by Egyptians, but by a semi-nomadic people known as the Edomites, who according to the Bible warred with Israel during the time of Kings David and Solomon. In 1969, a temple erected to the Egyptian god Hathor and dating to the 13th century B.C. was discovered in the valley, leading archaeologists to assume that Egypt controlled the mines from the 14th to 12th centuries B.C. But now radiocarbon dating of date seeds and an olive pit unearthed at an ancient smelting camp known as Slaves’ Hill show that the mines were active in the 11th to 9th centuries B.C., when the Edomites ruled the area. “In Timna Valley, we unearthed a society with undoubtedly significant development, organization, and power,” says Tel Aviv University archaeologist Erez Ben-Yosef. “And yet because the people were living in tents, they would have been transparent to us as archaeologists if they had been engaged in an industry other than mining and smelting, which is very visible archaeologically.”