Sources for Part 1 of Nahas Video

For Levy’s claim Khirbet en-Nahas had something to do with Edom, see here.

The Nahas pottery (and F&SA’s analysis of it).

The cooking pots.

The Late Iron IIa bowl picture.

The Negebite ware picture.

Levy’s PNAS paper (from where I got the radiocarbon dates from).

For some radiocarbon dates which further confirm the idea Khirbet en-Nahas was founded in the 11th-Late 12th C BC, see here.

The Nahas layers picture.

The Tel Masos picture.

The Tel Masos papers.

The Arad picture.

For other finds at Khirbet en-Nahas (including two Late Iron I scarabs from Area S and some Qurayyah pottery), see here. Please ignore (or notice) the horseshit on the top of page 867.

NOVA: Quest for Solomon’s Mines: Review

The PBS program “NOVA” had, in December(?) of 2010, shown a program called “The Quest for Solomon’s Mines”. As all know, “Nothing in the Levant which is called “Solomon’s” is Solomon’s“.

Now, as we know, not even the Bible mentions Solomon operating any mines. The whole “mines” thing came from the idea Solomon actually owned gold mines in Ophir, a baseless hypothesis in itself (division of labor!). The NOVA program, like most television (Frontline‘s program on Jesus excepted), has its flaws. The basic idea behind it (King Solomon has no evidence behind him, but those Nahas&Qeiyafa sure do illuminate the United Monarchy!) shows a startling misunderstanding of methods “we” can use to reconstruct the United Monarchy.  The most important part of it all is the dispute regarding when the Iron IIA (“Solomonic Gates” period, Megiddo gate possibly excluded) began, since this is key to interpreting what building projects mentioned in 1 Kings 9 (esp. vs. 15)  were actually done. The earlier NOVA Bible program tried to argue that the beginning of Iron IIA was sometime in David’s time, but this program assumes this to be in the later 10th century. This dispute can only be solved by radiocarbon dating. So far, it’s working against Solomon. The program, by adding music and inducing Petra, which was Nabataean Arab, not Edomite, romanticizes and sensationalizes Edom as a “mysterious land” something which only distracts from the main point of the program. Kh. en-Nahas  (30°40’51″N, 35°26’10″E) is not in the Wadi Feinan (Punon), nor is it in any way “mysterious”.

Tom Levy happens to be a Syro-Palestinian Archeologist, not a biblical one. He does not do archeology in the manner of the Albright school. The description of copper production was, however, one of the best parts of the show, explaining the process of copper manufacture quite well. The 3-D image of Khirbet en-Nahas was, by far, the best part of the show (but why the dark sky?). The description of site analysis was also done well. But why! Why use the term “Dead Sea Rift Valley” for the Aravah? Then, why remove the word “rift”, when you’ve already established the program’s word usage for the Aravah?

Also, one does not need a state to mine copper. Most of the copper mining at Nahas was probably done by the well established Iron IIa Tel Masos chiefdom (itself controlled by the Philistines). The Kingdom of Judah’s later fortresses (Lachish IV, Arad XI, Tel Beersheba V) were quite different, although Judah might have done some mining in the later stages of the 9th century BC, since the Bible mentions Jehoshaphat as ruling over Edom and, in 2 Kings 8:20, Edom revolting from Joram, even in 2 Kings 3, where Mesha of Moab is a well-attested king (he made a stele in Dibon, which might also support Judean conquests in the E. Dead Sea Region if it mentions the House of David). In any case, the copper certainly reached Jerusalem (what other functioning copper source was there, but Cyprus, which eventually destroyed the Tel Masos chiefdom)? The fortress was certainly built under Assyrian auspices.

As for Khirbet Qeiyafa, the Late Iron I probably Israelite (not early Iron IIa!) site was inhabited from after 1050 BC to sometime in the 10th century BC-when, we don’t know-anyway, it has little to do with David. The inscription, however, does provide a late 11th century “no-longer-missing link” of alphabetic script written in a Northwest Semitic language (like the one discovered at Izbet Sartah, 32° 6’16″N, 34°57’51″E).

The most funny part about the program was the delicious quote mining of Israel Finkelstein and Amihai Mazar, making them switch roles from their actual positions (read the transcript)- the latter is usually taken as a “maximalist”, the former, a “minimalist”-even though they are both far from both the Baltimore and Copenhagen schools.

In short, the glory of the United Monarchy is not added to by either Nahas or Qeiyafa; however, both reveal things of great importance when reconstructing the history of the Near East between 1177 and 734 BC.

O Say, Iron IIA…

The dating of Iron IIa is, perhaps, the most important issue in TBU (we can skip Finkelstein’s explanation of the origins of Israel for the while; it is basically correct). This is mainly due to this archeological period’s association with the United Monarchy and the Yadin Trinity of 1 Kings 9:15. This period is characterized by the presence of red-slip, hand-burnished pottery, distinguishing it from the later Late Iron II, characterized by its wheel-burnished pottery, and, towards its end, red-slipped unburnished pottery. Iron IIA pottery is found at the following sites:

1. Jezreel Enclosure (pg. 167)

2. Arad XII (first Israelite settlement at Arad, early) and XI (late, first fort).

3. Negev forts (early)

4. Dan IVA

5. Shechem X (and IX?)

6. Tell el-Far’ah (N,  32°17’14″N, 35°20’16″E) Stratum VIIb

7. Beersheba VII to V (had some RSHB before)

8. Lachish V(early)-IV (fortified, late)

9. Taanach II A and B

10. Rehob VI-IV

11. Hazor X-IX

12. Megiddo VB (early) and VA-IVB (late)

13. Gezer VIII (late)

14. Tel Masos II (early)

15. Tel Qasile IX-VIII (had RSHB in previous stratum)

It was only shown Iron IIa began in the so-called “Solomonic” period in 1990. Before that, any date between 1200 and 940 BC could be picked as the date of these wares’ beginning. The five-acre casemate-fortified Late Iron I site of Khirbet Qeiyafa is not included in the list.

Traditionally, the days of the Iron IIa were dated from c. 1000 to 926 BC, largely due to the excellent correlation between this chronology of Iron IIa and the claims of the Bible (see PBS, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, first, Nov 19, 2008 edition, or the second, April 13, 2011 edition, from 1:06 mark onwards, which, however, actually bothers to give viewers a good look at the Low Chronology from the 57 min mark).

However, after Finkelstein introduced the Low Chronology in 1994, radiocarbon was put up to the task to solve the chronological conundrum existing between proponents and opponents of the Solomonic paradigm. After all, there was no real archeological objection to the Solomonic Paradigm. First, dates from Tel Dor in 1997 put the start of Iron IIa in the early 9th century. These were rejoined by dates from Tel Rehov in 2003, which put the transition a century earlier. Finally, a great radiocarbon dating project begun, which concluded its preliminary results in 2007. This project, using 40 good samples, managed to conclude, with a 68.2% probability, that the transition between Iron IB and Iron IIa took place between 925 and 885 BC (mode=905 BC) and the transition between formative and “classic”(Solomonic) Iron IIa  between 865 and 830 BC (mode=850 BC) (Focused, Combined). Using the composite model, the 68.2% probability of the Iron I/II transition would be between 925 and 895 BC (mode=910 BC), the 28.3% probability of the transition to the classic Iron IIa would be between 905 and 885 BC (mode=900 BC), and the 39.9% probability of the transition to the classic Iron IIa would be between 875 and 845 BC (mode=857 BC) This made the tide begin to turn. The stronghold of Tel Rehov was shattered, yielding a 65.3% chance of the Iron I/II transition being between 960 and 914 BC,  the mode being 925 BC. Even Mazar’s own paper (pg. 113) admitted the most likely date for the Iron I/early Iron IIa transition was around 926 BC.

Megiddo and Taanach (mentioned in the Shishak list) were in their early Iron IIa phases already by the time of Shoshenq, as may have been Tel Arad. The Arads may have, as Lipinski suggested, been in entirely different locations from the Iron II Arad. The Solomonic Paradigm, therefore, seems to be having a slow and quiet funeral. The writing of Solomon’ acts must, therefore, be ascribed to the time of Hezekiah, before the compilation of the anti-Solomonic Deuteronomistic History. David and Solomon, therefore, must have been ordinary kings of the West Bank (or, at least, its southern part). The glories of the Solomonic kingdom are now ascribed to the kings Omri and Ahab, well attested from Assyrian and Moabite monuments (the Omride kingdom itself had little evidence of mass literacy). If the tide of Radiocarbon evidence is not reversed, the whole history of Palestine before Hezekiah must be revised in a Finkelsteinian manner.