The Temple of Solomon
THE HOUSE OF DAVID AND THE QUEST FOR KING SOLOMON’S MINES
Solomon's Stables under the Temple Platform
The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon
YOSSI GARFINKEL: So these are animal bones and you can see these are teeth and part of a mandible. And this is sheep or goat. And in our site, we have only sheep, goats and cattle. We don't have pig bones.
NARRATOR: Philistine settlements are full of pig bones. So could this be a sign that at Qeiyafa, the Israelite taboo on pork was already being observed?
When Yossi and his team had organic remains from the site dated, their excitement grew.
YOSSI GARFINKEL: According to radiocarbon dating, this is from the late 11th, early 10th century B.C. So this is really from the time of King David.
NARRATOR: If Qeiyafa was an Israelite city, it would be the earliest ever found. Another discovery suggests an Israelite site in an even more dramatic way. It was made by a teenager working here on his summer break.
ODED YAIR (Student): When I found it, I thought it was just another piece of pottery. Me and my friend Sanyo were digging up pieces of pottery, lots of them. But among them was this one piece with writing on it, the ostracon.
NARRATOR: The ostracon is a piece of pottery with writing painted on it.
YOSSI GARFINKEL: It was a nice geometric shape. It was quite strange, because usually pottery shard are much smaller and they don't have a geometric shape. Only in the afternoon, when it was washed in water, suddenly we saw that it has inscription on it. And then the question is, what is the language?
NARRATOR: The ostracon is faded and almost illegible.
Before Yossi can decipher it, he has to be able to read it clearly. That means sending it to Greg Bearman, in Santa Barbara, California, who uses a unique imaging technology.
GREG BEARMAN (ANE Image): The reason you're unable to see things on pottery or papyrus or any kind of thing like this is the substrate has somehow gotten faded. It's dark. And so you're looking at a dark background with dark text. It's very hard for the human eye to see. It's, you know, looking for the black cat at midnight situation.
NARRATOR: The photo spectroscopy system takes hundreds of pictures of the ostracon at different wavelengths to find out where the contrast between writing and background is highest.
GREG BEARMAN: Here's an example taken with 365 nanometers. It's blank; it may as well not be anything on there. So this shows that, in this wavelength, the pottery and the ink basically reflect the same amount of light and you don't see anything. As you go up in wavelength, we're stepping into the blue, and we're now into about 500 nanometers, and you see text is starting to show up.
NARRATOR: By combining and processing photos taken at many different wavelengths, Greg finally arrives at a clear image of the text. A replica of the ostracon was sent to Bill Schniedewind at U.C.L.A.
WILLIAM SCHNIEDEWIND (University of California, Los Angeles): This is really the most important early alphabetic text that we have. Frequently, when we talk about texts from this time period, there are three letters, four letters, five letters. Here you have five lines!
NARRATOR: The letters are Canaanite, the first alphabetic writing system that would give rise to many others, including Hebrew and our own. But deciphering what the script says is a challenge. To the ancient writing experts working with Yossi in Jerusalem, they seem to be written in a haphazard way, sometimes upside down, sometimes standing up, sometimes on their sides.
HAGGAI MISGAV (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): The 'a', the aleph, which is the same as the 'a', stands here three times: one on the, one on the legs, the other time on the head, which is the original one, and then on the side.
NARRATOR: Struggling to piece together the words which the letters form, the experts can hardly contain their excitement.
EXPERT: This is definitely a Hebrew word.
NARRATOR: They can make out other Hebrew words too: "eved," worship; "shafat," judge; "nakam," revenge; and "melekh," king. The writing is Canaanite, but the words are Hebrew.
BILL SCHNIEDEWIND: So it's not quite Hebrew script yet, um, but, eventually, this script will develop into Hebrew.
NARRATOR: It makes the ostracon a historic find, a remarkable testament to the birth of Hebrew writing in the process of being systematized.
HAGGAI MISGAV: I only can say that I hold in my hands the most ancient Hebrew text so far found.
NARRATOR: But what everybody really wants to know is what does it say? That question is not easy to answer.
BILL SCHNIEDEWIND: This is a very difficult inscription. Hebrew was written without vowels. So imagine a poorly preserved, vowel-less text. There's a lot of different ways to read a word. It could be a noun, it could be a verb. It's much more problematic than I think most people realize.
NARRATOR: Haggai Misgav is cautious.
HAGGAI MISGAV: You can say, very carefully, it's a text and not just a list of names. There are sentences there. And there may be sentences with a judicial or a moral meaning, and that's all.
NARRATOR: The exact meaning of the Qeiyafa ostracon may never be deciphered, but its significance is undeniable. It shows that in Solomon's century, in fortified cities, texts were being copied in a very early version of written Hebrew. The finds at Qeiyafa suggest a solution to the long running debate about Solomon. Like Hebrew writing, Solomon's Israelite kingdom was in the early stages of its formation, a small kingdom struggling to become a bigger one. This may make sense of one of the few facts about 10th century B.C. Israel we can be sure of: the Bible notes that five years after Solomon died, an Egyptian army invaded, and Solomon's kingdom was crushed.
BIBLE VO (2 Chronicles 12: 2-3): In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, King Shishak of Egypt marched against Jerusalem with 1,200 chariots, 60,000 horsemen and innumerable troops who came with him from Egypt.
NARRATOR: Many scholars claim the biblical account of Shishak's invasion of Israel is backed up by a giant relief in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Figures containing images of bound captives and city walls represent the places Shishak ransacked.
AMIHAI MAZAR: We can see that this raid was intended to cross the central hill country just north of Jerusalem. No pharaoh before him did this. They always just moved along the coast. That means he, in particular, wanted to reach the area of Jerusalem. Perhaps the Solomonic kingdom threatened some Egyptian interests in this region.
NARRATOR: If that is the case, Shishak's raid is one last piece of compelling evidence for the rising power of Solomon's kingdom. If ancient Israel was a land of tribal chiefdoms, why would Shishak bother to invade? Perhaps this was a Sherman's march through the ancient Near East to flatten its upstart kingdoms. And at Khirbet en Nahas, there may be evidence that one of Shishak's targets was copper production in the Dead Sea Rift Valley. In a cross section of a slag heap, Tom Levy sees layers of slag laid down regularly year after year. But then there is a break.
THOMAS LEVY: And what you see is this disruption in the metal production activity at the end of the 10th century.
NARRATOR: The thin layers suggest a stoppage of work at the smelters. Levy believes this corresponds to the time of Shishak's invasion. While scholars debate the details of Shishak's campaign, they all agree on one thing.
ISRAEL FINKELSTEIN: To put your hand on the copper supply at that time was really critical. Whoever controlled or tried to monopolize this was in power.
NARRATOR: So were these King Solomon's mines?
THOMAS LEVY: I hope that in our excavations at Khirbet en Nahas we'll ultimately find inscriptions that can tell us about biblical characters, whether they were Edomites or the early Israelite kings like David and Solomon. But that's a hope.
NARRATOR: Perhaps control of the mines changed hands as different kingdoms came into power. Whoever controlled the mines, we know copper from Wadi Feynan was traded throughout the region and probably reached Jerusalem.
AMIHAI MAZAR: I believe that if, one day, we should find the copper objects from the temple in Jerusalem, it will prove to come from this area.
NARRATOR: One thing is certain: the finds at Khirbet en Nahas and Qeiyafa have transformed our image of the mysterious 10th century B.C., Solomon's century. It was a time of walled cities and scribes, of rising kingdoms that could command a flourishing copper industry.
King Solomon's marker?Ron Wyatt stated (he is dead now) that this pillar is another piece of evidence that Moses crossed the "Red Sea" here at Nuweiba. He stated that this pilar was erected by King Solomon to mark and commemorate the site, and that there is a corresponding pillar on the Saudi side of the Gulf of Aqaba.
It is apparently quite difficult for people to get to the area around Jabal al Lawz in Saudia Arabia, to try to confirm claims that people have seen archaeological evidence that the Israelites were once there. The Saudis are said to be understandably cagey about letting people look for evidence that God led the Israelis to Saudia Arabia first!
Finally I have to say that the evidence I have seen on the internet arguing that this was Moses’ crossing point and that Mount Sinai is in Saudia Arabia, looks thin! Most scholars feel the same way. The arguments are unbalanced. The arguers have started with a hypothesis and done everything they can to prove it without doing anything to disprove it. An explanation that suits the argument is taken as proof. Critical argument is ignored.
But you never know, there have been a lot of other crack-pot ideas over the years that have eventually turned out to be correct!
Israeli archaeologists have uncovered a rare temple and religious figurines which date back nearly 3,000 years to the time of the Kingdom of Judah.
They say the finds provide rare testimony of a ritual cult in the Jerusalem region at the beginning of the period of the royal House of David.
Such idol worship was a major theme in the chapters of the Old Testament relating to the era, and is given in the holy book as a cause for the downfall of the Jewish kingdom.
An Israeli Antiquities Authority worker holds figurines found at the Tel Motza archaeological site: The IAA said on Wednesday they unearthed a maze-like construction and a cache of sacred vessels some 2, 750 years old
The discoveries were made at Tel Motza, outside Jerusalem, during archaeological work taking place ahead of new highway construction in the area. They were announced yesterday in a release by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 'The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea,' the dig directors said in a statement. 'The uniqueness of the structure is even more remarkable because of the vicinity of the site's proximity to the capital city of Jerusalem, which acted as the Kingdom's main sacred center at the time.'
2,000-year-old stone podium that may have been Jerusalem's Stone of Claims is unearthed
- Stone podium found on main street through ancient Biblical City of David
- Archaeologists say had an official function as it formed part of the street
- Someone standing on it would have attracted attention of passing pilgrims
- It could have been used to make official announcements or could be a stone mentioned in historic texts where pilgrims reclaimed lost property
JERUSALEM'S RUINS THROW UP NEW MYSTERIES
Archaeologist Anna Eirikh shows a horse figurine at the site on the outskirts of Jerusalem: Experts say the finds provide rare testimony of a ritual cult in the region at the start of the period of the royal House of David. Tel Motza and the surrounding region are well known for their archaeological importance. Many finds have previously been uncovered at the site, from a range of different periods.
This map shows the location of the Tel Motza archaeological site, just outside of Jerusalem, Israel