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Edom’s Copper Industry.

21 September 2019

At https://phys.org/news/2019-09-technological-edomite-kingdom-10th-century… … a paper on the emergence of the kingdom of Edom in the Iron Age has been published in the open access journal PLOS ONE by an Israeli team of researchers – see https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221967 … It concerns excavations of copper mines in the Wadii Arabah and central Timna Valley locations. They advance the theory there was a sudden and rapid 'leap' in 'technological knowhow' and seek to understand how it came about. They propose a comparison to the 'punctuated equilibrium' model for evolutionary change characterised by long term stasis punctuated by shor lived episodes of rapid change. This idea was in stark contrast to the original evolutionary theory, a model of gradualist and constant change and update. In this instance, the sudden leap in technological innovation in Edom's copper mining industry was preceded by a long priod of established smelting techniques.

Vigilant readers may recognise another possibility – the arrival of new immigrants with a superior technology as we are talking about the period immediately following the end of the LB age (or even a technology that came into fashion in the dregs of the LB age and was carried on over into the early Iron Age). ONe might think in terms of Solomon – but more pertinently one might think of Ramses III who claims to have campaigned in Edom (and the only reason he might have done that was to renew Egyptian interest in the copper mines). Peter James made just this point in one of his papers and that was that Ramses III regained control of Edom and the Transjordan valley after the vicissitudes of the late dynasty 19 period. In other words, it might have been overrun by tribes from the desert (including Arabia). The campaign therefore can be seen to re-establish the Egyptian empire in the southern Levant – and the copper mines may have been an addition, not previously exploited by Egyptian technology. One might also bear in mind that at the end of the LB age the Levant was in upheaval, throwing people up from regions in Anatolia and the Aegean with technology foreign to Edom – and to Egypt. One should not jump to the conclusion it was a home grown innovative technology as it could equally have been introduced from abroad. Solomon, for example. was closely aligned with the Phoenicians, and sea peoples became an element in their population at the end of the LB age – and the same goes for peoples washed up in what became known as Philistia (SW Canaan). Significantlyh, the authors of the study see a possible correlation with Shoshenk I who also appears to have campaigned through the Transjordan valley (and therefore Wadi Arabah etc). They subscribe to the mainstream dating of Shoshenk , in the second half of the 10th century BC. In Peter James 'Centuries of Darkness' scheme Shoshenk I would have been active in the 9th century BC, somewhat later. It would be interesting to know what dates these innovations actually were introduced. For example, if Iron IIA is implicated and then no connection with Solomon is possible (in a revised chronology). If, on the other hand, the innovations are earlier than Iron IIA and then we have a variety of permutations.

The story is also at https://eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-09/afot-tau091819.php … we have a slightly different slant, which begins by quoting Genesis 36:31 which says of Edom, they had … 'kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned.' The PLOS ONE paper says the kingdom of Edom flourished in the Arava Desert in the 12th and 11th centuries BC (much closer to Ramses III). They attribute the change in technology to Shoshenk I (or the aftermath of his campaign which in mainstream chronology is dated mid 10th century BC, an Egyptian excursus into Arabah (both Timna and Faynan).

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