Monday, November 20, 2017

Timna and the United Monarchy?

ARCHAEOLOGY: Did David and Solomon's United Monarchy Exist? Vast Ancient Mining Operation May Hold Answers. Archaeology has provided precious little evidence for the biblical account of a powerful Judaic kingdom 3,000 years ago, but the sheer extent of copper mining in Timna, when Egypt was in a state of collapse, is otherwise hard to explain (Philippe Bohstrom, Haaretz).
The biblical narrative may have gone overboard on extolling the virtues of the two kings, but a preponderance of evidence indicates that some kind of powerful polity did rule from Jerusalem. One of the best arguments is the massive copper production during the 10th century B.C.E., at Timna, three hundred kilometers south of Jerusalem.

Mountains of slag

There, in the dry desert, Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University has spent 14 years excavating copper mining and smelting sites of Jordan and Israel, dating to the 10th century B.C.E. The mines in the Aravah valley are in the very territory the Bible says David won from the Edomites, who then became subject to Israel (2 Samuel 8:13-14).
This article is especially interested in the "minimalist-maximalist" debate about whether and to what degree the Hebrew Bible tells us any useful historical information about the so-called United Monarchy. I am more interested in the article's detailed coverage of the Timna Valley excavation. Lots of organic material from the 10th century BCE has been excavated there. This leads me to hope that someday the excavators may recover scroll fragments there from the same period. It's a long shot, but we'll see.

Background on the many fascinating discoveries in the Timna Valley excavation is here and follow the links.

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