Research, Technology

King Solomon's gold mines weren't fiction?

King Solomon is a legendary biblical figurelived in the 10th century BC. He became famous not only for his wisdom, but also for his wealth. According to the biblical narratives, God, in gratitude for his fidelity, offered Solomon a choice of one of three gifts - wisdom, wealth or power. Solomon chose wisdom, which helped him achieve both power and fabulous wealth. According to the legend, which became widespread thanks to the book of Henry Rider Haggard, King Solomon owned gold mines, that is, mines. However, according to the information of the "Third Book of Kings" and chronicles, Solomon's treasures were made not of gold, but of bronze or copper. This is confirmed by the decorations from the legendary temple of Solomon. From this it can be assumed that the mines were not gold, but copper. It seems that archaeologists have now found confirmation of this version.

King Solomon's Mines May Have Really Existed, But They Weren't Gold

When did people start making copper in ancient times

According to scientists, the Timna Valley is one of theancient places where ancient people began to produce copper. The valley is a depression located in the south of the Arava desert, 25 km north of Eilat. This region is a continuation of the Great African Rift. Here, many minerals that originated deep in the bowels of the Earth are close to the surface, as a result of which they are easy to extract.

Archaeologists excavate a major copper production center in the Timna Valley

As scientists have established, the earliestevidence of copper smelting in the Timna Valley is about 7,500 years old. In other words, copper began to be smelted here during the Eneolithic, which is also called the copper-stone period. True, the secret of the alloy of tin and copper was discovered only 1000 years later. Since then, more wear-resistant bronze has been smelted. By the way, the same bronze was smelted in ancient China 3000 years ago, as we talked about earlier.

Why ancient copper mines were abandoned

In a recent study that waspublished in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists examined fragments of charcoal that was obtained in the Iron Age, that is, about 3,000 years ago. It was during this period that Timna's industry was at its peak.

As the researchers explain, for copper smelting inthose times in the beginning prepared charcoal. To do this, they burned wood with a small amount of air in special pits. Charcoal gave more heat than wood, and it also burned longer.

Such furnaces were used by people 6000 years ago to smelt copper.

Using an electron microscope, scientistsdetermine what rocks were used to make coal. According to the cellular structure, it was possible to find out that initially people used acacia and other high-quality wood. But later in Timna, the quality of wood began to decline. At the end of the operation of the mines, even the trunks of palm trees were used to melt copper. Eventually the mines were abandoned. As the researchers suggest, the reason for this was the lack of wood near the mines.

By the way, it is possible that deforestation andturned the area into a desert. The decrease in the number of trees growing here led to the fact that the area became even more arid. Therefore, when they stopped cutting trees for mines, she could not recover.

The copper mines were abandoned for about 1000years. They resumed their work only when the Nabataeans (a semi-nomadic Semitic people), and then the Romans, began to import wood from which high-quality coal was obtained.

Under King Solomon, coal became available for smelting copper.

King Solomon's Mines

It is believed that the biblical king David and his sonSolomon, if they really existed, lived between the 11th and 9th centuries BC. For example, archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, a professor at Tel Aviv University, is sure that David and Solomon were indeed historical figures who lived in the 10th century BC. That is, they ruled just at the time when the copper mines resumed their work.

Scientists suggest that copper from ancient minesused to make decorations for Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. Perhaps later the ancient writers made a mistake and described the jewelry as golden. In 1885, writer H. Ryder Haggard wrote his adventure novel King Solomon's Mines, which featured gold mines. However, it is not clear whether he borrowed this myth from somewhere or simply made it up.

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It must be said that recently manybiblical stories are scientifically confirmed. For example, last year scientists found out how the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. As it turned out, the Bible quite accurately describes the moment of the death of ancient cities.