King Solomon's fabled mines found in Palestine
Archaeologists in Israel have reportedly discovered more evidence of the fabled King Solomon's Mines.
Archaeologists excavating a site among thousands of copper mines scattered about the Timna Valley in the Arabah Desert, have found a well-preserved ancient military fort that they have estimated to be around 3,000 years old.
Dating back to the tenth century BC, during the reign of King David and Solomon, the gatehouse complex has donkey stables and well-organised defences.
"While there is no explicit description of 'King Solomon's mines' in the Old Testament, there are references to military conflicts between Israel and the Edomites in the Arava Valley," said Dr Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University's Institute of Archaeology, author of a study on the site published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.
During the dig, Ben-Yosef's team found bones and dung piles so well preserved in the harsh arid climate that they could tell what the animals had eaten hay and grapes, likely delivered from the Mediterranean region, hundreds of miles away.
They said the fortifications were designed to protect the copper mines underneath the Timna Valley region.
"According to the Bible, David traveled hundreds of miles outside of Jerusalem and engaged in military conflict in the desert - striking down '18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt.' Now, having found evidence of defensive measures - a sophisticated fortification - we understand what must have been at stake for him in this remote region: copper," Ben-Yosef said.
He added: "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 … in the region."
The mines are mentioned in the Bible and were said to have created so much wealth they paid for the grand temples and ornate palaces in Jerusalem.
While the findings are not hard evidence that these biblical conflicts really occurred, Ben-Yosef argues that they are an important part of the puzzle.
"The historical accuracy of the Old Testament accounts is debated, but archaeology can no longer be used to contradict them."