King Solomon's Mines

6 Apr 2017

At ... it seems archaeologists came across some donkey manure dating back 3000 years ago, preserved in the arid environment of the Timna Valley. It had accumulated in an ancient mining camp at the back of a mesa like sandstone formation known as Slaves Hill. They were probably pack animals used to transport the metal and ores - and bring in supplies to the miners. The area is peppered with copper mines and smelting sites (where the ore was heated and the metal extracted). It is known that New Kingdom Egypt (Late Bronze Age) had an interest in the Timna Valley (18th, 19th and some of the 20th dynasties) but it seems C14 methodology comes up with a date in the 10th century (which is defined as the Iron Age and the early Israelite kingdom). A case is being made solely on the C14 dates - not just of the donkey dung but of other finds at the site. One has to wonder how reliable C14 dating is in the region when it comes up with a glaring anomaly at Nineveh - by about 150 years too late. On that basis, the correct C14 date might well be in the 9th century (even perhaps in the early 8th century), and therefore have nothing to do with Solomon at all - or his mines.

You can make of that what you will but the link to Solomon is guesswork - an invocation of a well known historical personality. Even is you consider the C14 date correct (within a small error margin)  you may like to contemplate that a 10th century date would not be too distant from where the New Chronology of David Rohl (and the rival version, that of Peter James in Centuries of Darkness) place dynasty 19 and 20. The calibration curve appears to have been concocted to get the Egyptologists onboard the lucrative C14 laboratory business. The Nineveh data seems to clearly contradict the necessity of calibration. An adjustment to offset plateau events (injections of C14 into the atmosphere) was what caused it to happen in the first place - but why only one calibration when there were multiple plateaus?

Having said that there is no reason why Iron Age Israel and Judah may not have exploited the Timna copper - and if we consider there might have been Egyptian interest in the region during dynasty 22 (in the 9th/8th centuries) that would not be surprising. Bringing Solomon to life is of course more newsworthy. Whatever, the mining operations probably took place over a long period of time as 1000 tons of smelting waste remains on Slaves Hill. The problem here might be that iron was the metal of choice in the Iron Age (which would include the 10th century on mainstream chronology) although bronze and brass continued to be made - and still are in the modern world. Not the last word on the subject we can be sure.