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ARCHAEOLOGY: Dates Boost Conventional Wisdom About Solomon's Splendor
Science Magazine ^ | 2003-04-11 | Constance Holden

Posted on 04/11/2003 6:13:20 PM PDT by Lessismore

Carbon-14 dates from Israel may help settle a scholarly debate that has raged over the past decade: whether David and his son Solomon, founders of the ancient kingdom of Israel, were the larger-than-life nation builders the Bible describes or largely mythical figures, as some recent historians have claimed. The new dates from Tel Rehov, a major Iron Age site in northern Israel, favor the traditional view that King Solomon was both real and powerful. "The implications are enormous for recreating the history of ancient Israel," says archaeologist Lawrence Stager of Harvard University.

Researchers led by Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem based their conclusions on olive pits and charred grain from one of Tel Rehov's three "destruction layers"--strata marking times when Rehov was ravaged before being rebuilt. The results, reported on page 315, place the layer between 940 and 900 B.C. Mazar and colleagues say the dates peg the devastation to a whirlwind plundering tour of Palestine by the Egyptian Pharoah Shoshenq, a well documented historical event that both Egyptian records and biblical writings date at about 925 B.C. The Bible adds another key detail: According to the books of I Kings and II Chronicles, the pharoah (whom the Israelites called Shishak) launched his invasion 5 years after Solomon's death.

If Mazar and colleagues are right, the destruction layer at Rehov--along with contemporary layers that archaeologists have identified at other sites--gives a definitive glimpse of Solomon's realm. That information may make clear which of two radically different versions of Solomon fits the facts. The mainstream view, Stager says, holds that the great leader Solomon transformed the "rather rustic" early 10th century B.C. Israel of his father David into a sophisticated kingdom, with architecture and material culture to match. In the mid-1990s, a handful of "revisionist" scholars rocked the establishment with an audacious alternative: that biblical accounts of Solomonic splendor were mostly hype.

According to archaeologist Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, the temples, palaces, and political structures usually attributed to David and Solomon had nothing to do with those rulers at all (Science, 7 January 2000, p. 31). Finkelstein says his excavations of Megiddo, 40 kilometers west of Rehov, show that the so-called Solomonic palaces and gates there actually belonged to later, 9th century B.C. rulers known as the Omrides. In his alternative "Low Chronology," Solomon and his family were at best minor chieftains, not the great kings of biblical fame, and at worst myths.

The status of 3000-year-old monarchs is a politically charged issue in modern Israel, says archaeologist William Dever of the University of Arizona in Tucson. "In the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict, people are increasingly invoking archaeology in support of their cause," he explains. "Some Israelis think that the very foundations of Zionism's claim to the land have been undermined" by the Low Chronology. For that and other reasons, he says, "we've all been waiting for science to come to our aid with carbon-14 dates."

That's where Tel Rehov comes in. If Finkelstein is right, Dever says, the 10th century B.C. Shoshenq was "laying waste to ephemeral ... settlements and not to the royal cities." Instead, the Rehov of Mazar's grain and olives was a well-planned 10-hectare urban center whose material culture connects it with sites of Solomonic ruins. The carbon-14 date, Dever says, strongly bolsters the case for "a historical Solomon and a real 'United Monarchy' in the 10th century." Stager says Mazar's study "puts the nail in the coffin" of Finkelstein's theory.

Undeterred, Finkelstein says he is collaborating with Tel Aviv University physicist Eliezer Piasetsky to reinterpret Mazar's new data. New, unpublished carbon-14 readings from Megiddo and elsewhere, he says, contradict the Rehov readings and show that the "Solomonic" layer was destroyed a century later by someone other than Shoshenq. "The diehards of the conventional dating are in a desperate situation," Finkelstein concludes. "The Low Chronology is as solid as ever, if not stronger now."

But most biblical archaeologists say Finkelstein is swimming against the tide. The Bible may well have overexalted Solomon, says archaeologist Steven Rosen of Ben Gurion University, a specialist in radiocarbon dating, but radical revisionism is not the answer. "Demythologizing Davidic and Solomonic glories does not require that we redate everything," Rosen says, "only that we put it in better perspective."


TOPICS: Front Page News; Israel
KEYWORDS: ancienthistory; archaeology; christianlist; economic; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; kingsolomon; letshavejerusalem

1 posted on 04/11/2003 6:13:20 PM PDT by Lessismore
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To: All
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3 posted on 04/11/2003 6:41:03 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: Lessismore
Finkelstein is going down.
4 posted on 04/11/2003 6:45:43 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: aruanan
Biblical archaeology has a long history of this sort of thing. These guys go after proof the Bible is wrong and then can't handle it when they find evidence the Bible is right.
These are the same people who insisted Sodom & Gomorrah didn't exist (found about the 7th layer down with 6 other cities above and with significant evidence that they'd been burned from the roofs down) and that the Philistines didn't build temples (like in the Sampson saga) where pulling down two pillars would collapse the entire building - then they found two temples in the region that were built with two pillars dead in the middle, just far enough apart that a large man could reach both - and bring down the whole building.
God is great.
5 posted on 04/11/2003 7:03:40 PM PDT by DED (Liberals Never Learn. *LNL*)
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To: Lessismore
Bump for later read.
6 posted on 04/11/2003 7:05:16 PM PDT by k2blader ("Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful." - C. S. Lewis)
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To: Lessismore
Bump.
7 posted on 04/11/2003 7:27:19 PM PDT by thatdewd (Billboards for the rich, spraycans for the poor, and taglines for the rest...)
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To: Lessismore
bump and read later
8 posted on 04/11/2003 7:29:20 PM PDT by LiteKeeper
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To: DED
}Biblical archaeology has a long history of this sort of thing. These guys go after proof the Bible is wrong and then can't handle it when they find evidence the Bible is right.

Right on! They more they dig the more evidence is found.

9 posted on 04/11/2003 7:33:19 PM PDT by DensaMensa (He who controls the definitions controls History. He who controls History controls the future.)
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To: RnMomof7
bump
10 posted on 04/11/2003 7:41:24 PM PDT by George W. Bush
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To: DensaMensa
There is a book called "The Bible As History", printed circa 1950, that goes through all of the biblical archeological evidence recorded throughout history. The question has been settled already -- anyone that disputes it has simply not done their research like the author of that book, that spent his life poring over every detail of every biblical archeological find throughout the middle east.

What is even more amazing, is that there are today large stores of archeological discoveries from the middle east that sit in storage in various great museums in Europe.

It is my opinion that some great discoveries that would favor the Biblical identity and historical accuracy of the Israelite lineage are being left alone on purpose.

11 posted on 04/11/2003 9:20:17 PM PDT by ImaGraftedBranch (Education starts in the home. Education stops in the public schools)
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To: ImaGraftedBranch
}It is my opinion that some great discoveries that would favor the Biblical identity and historical accuracy of the Israelite lineage are being left alone on purpose.

Thanks for that book reference. I saw the book years ago but lost track of it. Will chase it down again! (PS: I also feel the "scales will fall from their eyes" at the appropriate time.)

12 posted on 04/11/2003 9:27:15 PM PDT by DensaMensa (He who controls the definitions controls History. He who controls History controls the future.)
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To: Lessismore
Read David Rohl's "Pharoahs and Kings" in which he redates the entire Egyptian conventional timeline which makes the problems of Biblical dating go away... and provides proof of his chronology that fits the observed evidence better than the "conventional" and accepted Egyptian chronology that was established very early on by an erroneous assumption that the Pharoah that Moses interacted with was Ramses (II) the Great.

This redating puts the rise of the Davidic lineage of kings into a power vacuum when the era's two great rivals, Egypt and Babylon, were both in the midst of political unrest at home. In fact, after redating the Egyptian timeline, a series of writings (the Amarna letters) were found that exactly describe the events of the ascension of Saul, the rebellion of "The Young Lion" (an appellation of David), the death of Jonathon in battle... and actually cites people referred to in the Biblical version by name such as Jesse.
13 posted on 04/11/2003 10:45:06 PM PDT by Swordmaker (Tagline Extermination Services, franchises available, small investment, big profit)
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To: Swordmaker
bttt
14 posted on 04/12/2003 8:46:42 AM PDT by tang-soo
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To: *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; blam; seamole
Something has changed!

System is accepting

*Gods, Graves, Glyphs

as a valid entry!

15 posted on 05/26/2003 2:15:31 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (Recall Gray Davis and then start on the other Democrats)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs
Also accepts Gods, Graves, Glyphs
16 posted on 05/26/2003 2:19:24 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (Recall Gray Davis and then start on the other Democrats)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; blam; FairOpinion; StayAt HomeMother
Just updating the GGG information, not sending a general distribution.

And this is a bit of FRchaeology (I just coined that, AFAIK), because it shows the first of the old-style bump list pings for GGG. That was still in effect when I got the job, but not for long thereafter. :')

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
Gods, Graves, Glyphs PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)

17 posted on 09/09/2006 9:25:12 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Saturday, September 2, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: 75thOVI; AndrewC; Avoiding_Sulla; BenLurkin; Berosus; CGVet58; chilepepper; ckilmer; demlosers; ...
A topic from 2003 -- reply at your own risk. :')

· Catastrophism ping list · join · view topics · view or post blog messages · bookmark ·

18 posted on 09/09/2006 9:26:48 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (updated my FR profile on Saturday, September 2, 2006. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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