Timna (Israel) : King Solomon’s Mines Could be Copper Supercomplex

Seth Augenstein

Source - http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2017/01/king-solomons-mines-could-be-copper-supercomplex

Timna valley gatehouse israel solomonPhoto: Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University

King Solomon had enormous wealth, in addition to his legendary wisdom, as the Old Testament recounts. Now archaeologists may have found a major economic source for his Biblical reign: a series of fortified mines for producing copper.

A militarized gatehouse complex in the Timna Valley of Israel has preserved organic materials that survived 3,000 years in the arid climate. The evidence depicts a complex that was apparently a key objective of power for the Israelite kingdom, as described in the latest issue of The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Copper was a rare product and very challenging to produce,” said Erez Ben-Yosef, leader of the Tel Aviv University team investigating the gatehouse site, originally discovered in 2009. “Because copper – like oil today, perhaps – was the most coveted commodity, it landed at the very heart of military conflicts. The discovery of the fortification indicates a period of serious instability and military threats at that time in the region.”

The evidence – including animal bones and traces of food remnants – gives a view into a structured and hierarchical society, dating to the 10th century B.C. – the era of Solomon and his father, King David, the authors write.

Donkeys appeared to be used as draught animals, and they were fed grape pomace and hay, which was considered special treatment.

Animal dung appeared to be piled against the inner wall of the complex, apparently to use in heating the furnace for the smelting process.

The metalworkers’ garbage at the site indicates they had a rich diet of meats and seeds from vast distances, apparently established through trade, they find.

The huge smelting complex at Timna, originally unearthed in 1934, continues to back up Biblical accounts. Although the legend of “King Solomon’s mines” were never explicitly mentioned in the Old Testament (and were instead popularized by a 1885 novel by the Victorian novelist H. Rider Haggard), the wealth and power of the wise Biblical king appears to be backed by the physical evidence at the copper-smelting complex.  

This historical accuracy of the Old Testament accounts is debated, but archaeology can no longer be used to contradict them,” said Ben-Yosef. “On the contrary, our new discoveries are in complete accordance with the description of military conflicts against a hierarchical and centralized society located south of the Dead Sea.”