Thursday, November 16, 2023

Archaeological evidence for the United Monarchy?

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE: David and Solomon’s Biblical Kingdom May Have Existed After All, New Study Suggests. Monumental structures at Gezer have been redated to the early 10th century B.C.E., which means maybe Solomon built them after all, biblical archaeologists say. But colleagues remain skeptical (Ariel David, Haaretz).
Most likely, the debate on the existence and extent of the United Monarchy will not be solved by this study, says Prof. Aren Maeir, an archaeologist at Bar-Ilan University who heads the dig at the ancient Philistine city of Gath.

The paper provides “seemingly solid dating to the 10th century B.C.E. for the fortifications and public structures at Gezer 8. This very logically could be connected to the United Monarchy,” Maeir tells Haaretz. “I doubt though this can provide a final answer for the historicity of David and Solomon.”

Probably not.

Those six-chambered city gates at Gezer, Megiddo, and Hazor sure have given archaeologists something to argue about since Yadin noticed them.

The underlying PLOS ONE article has a lot more going on than just the 10th century dating of a stratum. The Haaretz article gives a nicely readable summary. If you want the nitty-gritty details:

The chronology of Gezer from the end of the late bronze age to iron age II: A meeting point for radiocarbon, archaeology egyptology and the Bible

Lyndelle C. Webster , Samuel R. Wolff, Steven M. Ortiz, Marcella Barbosa, Cameron Coyle, Gary P. Arbino, Michael W. Dee, Quan Hua, Geraldine E. Jacobsen

Published: November 15, 2023


The ancient southern Levantine city of Gezer is well-known from Egyptian, Biblical and Assyrian sources, associated with power struggles, conquests, and intriguing tales involving figures such as Milkilu and Amenhotep III, Merneptah, the Philistines, Solomon and his unidentified pharaonic father-in-law, and Shishak / Sheshonq I. Since the identity of Gezer with “Tell Jezer” is quite literally ‘set in stone’ by some dozen boundary inscriptions, along with impressive Bronze and Iron Age remains, research at this site provides a unique opportunity to compare text and archaeology, as well as bring to light the undocumented everyday lives of the city’s inhabitants. In this endeavour, independent scientific dating is crucial for anchoring the remains chronologically. This paper presents the first substantial radiocarbon dataset and Bayesian chronological analysis for Gezer spanning the last part of the Late Bronze Age (LBA; LB IIB) through Iron Age II. The dataset derives from an essentially continuous stratigraphic sequence exposed in recent years by the Tandy expedition along the central-southern edge of the site. The results allow us for the first time to independently determine the site chronology, test the viability (from a chronological perspective) of proposed historical correlations, and contribute to debates on Philistine and Iron Age chronology.

For some PaleoJudaica posts on whether archaeology supports the existence of a Davidic and Solomonic United Monarchy, see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and links.

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