The archeological news from Israel keeps coming in.
First there is this: a new Dead Sea scroll cave has been found in the Judean desert. There was one small scroll, but it was blank. There is evidence that other scrolls were plundered by thieves.
“It is the first time in 60 years we have the first evidence of a new scroll cave,” Oren Gutfeld, a researcher at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Archaeology, told the Washington Post by phone Thursday morning. “We knew about 11 caves, and now we have 12.”
Second, there is a find from the 10th century BCE at the mining camp at Timna. This may relate to the mines ascribed to King Solomon, not by the Bible, but in novels and movies. There was a highly organized mining operation at Timna near the gulf of Aqaba at the right time. (Mining operations there had been going on for centuries, in previous times sponsored by the Egyptian pharaohs.)
Erez Ben-Yosef led a team that excavated a gatehouse in the camp’s defensive wall. The evidence is that the government, presumably Israel, prioritized security for the mines.
“Copper was a rare product and very challenging to produce,” Ben-Yosef said. “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 at that time in the region.”
The description of Solomon’s wealth in 1 Kings 9:10 ff. stresses gold and silver. But it is clear that the account is idealized. It would be more reasonable to think that Solomon’s wealth was based on copper.