Published October 28, 2008
WASHINGTON – The fictional King Solomon's Mines held a treasure of gold and diamonds, but archaeologists say the real mines may have supplied the ancient king with copper.
Researchers led by Thomas Levy of the University of California, San Diego, and Mohammad Najjar of Jordan's Friends of Archaeology, discovered a copper-production center in southern Jordan that dates to the 10th century B.C., the time of Solomon's reign.
The discovery occurred at Khirbat en-Nahas, which means "ruins of copper" in Arabic.
Located south of the Dead Sea, the region was known in the Old Testament as Edom.
Research at the site in the 1970s and 1980s indicated that metalworking began there in the 7th century B.C., long after Solomon.
But Levy and Najjar dug deeper and were able to date materials such as seeds and sticks to the 10th century B.C.
"We can't believe everything ancient writings tell us," Levy said in a statement. "But this research represents a confluence between the archaeological and scientific data and the Bible."
Their findings are reported in Tuesday's issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.