A 3,000-year-old military complex has been unearthed in the Negev Dessert by archaeologists from Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology.
Erez Ben-Yosef, one of the leaders of the excavation, told Fox News this weekend that a recent analysis of finds from a gatehouse complex uncovered in 2014 reveal the remains of the stables and other artifacts actually date back to the time of Kings David and Solomon.
In an article slated to appear in the February 2017 issue (Vol. 11, pp 411-426) of the Journal of Archaeological Science, Ben-Yosef and his colleagues, Dafna Langgut and Lidar Sapir-Hen describe the site as an “Iron Age gatehouse and associated livestock pens in one of the largest copper smelting camps in Timna Valley – Site 34 (“Slaves’ Hill”).”
In an exciting yet wordless Hollywood-style trailer produced for his “Central Timna Valley Project (CTV) in 2014 to recruit student volunteers, Ben-Yosef manages to convey all the excitement, determination and anticipation associated with archaeology — and still show the thankless hard work that can also go along with it — in less than sixty seconds.
“Join us in the field to excavate ancient mines and discover if those were really the legendary ‘King Solomon’s Mines.’ The excavations are taken place in the Iron Age smelting and mining sites of southern Israel (Timna Valley),” reads the text below the trailer on YouTube. “This is a Tel Aviv University project that include a field school with academic credit.”
Two years later, a second YouTube video shows how far strong muscles and cheerful team work will get you.
Now, two years later, he and his colleagues report the extraordinary state of preservation of organic materials allowed the archaeologists to investigate animal bones as well as seeds and pollen found in dung piles.
The scientists concluded the gatehouse was used for keeping donkeys or mules and probably goats, which were fed with “grape pomace and hay (rather than straw) that originated from the Mediterranean regions… This food reflects special treatment and care, in accordance with the key role of the donkeys in the success of copper production and trade in a logistically challenging region…. The gatehouse and walls also indicate substantial investment in deterrence and defense, reflecting a period of instability and military threat in 1 0th c. BCE Timna.”
“When we uncovered the stables, the material was so well preserved and ‘fresh’ that we could not believe it [was] 3,000 years old,” Ben-Yosef told Fox News. “Only when the dates came back from the lab were we reassured that indeed these were the remains… from the time of David and Solomon.”
The multi-year project continues, with the field work team to continue working in the February 2017 season, carrying out probes at several sites and surveys of manganese mines.Hana Levi Julian