Biblical view of carbon dating
Archaeologists such as Glueck metaphorically carried the trowel in 1 hand and the Bible in the other, searching the archaeological landscape of the southern Levant for confirmation of the biblical narrative from the Patriarchs to the United Monarchy under David and Solomon to other personages, places, and events mentioned in the sacred text.Beginning in the 1980s, this paradigm came under severe attack, primarily by so-called biblical minimalist scholars who argued that as the HB was edited in its final form during the 5th century (c.) BC (3), any reference in the text to events earlier than 500 BC were false (4).The work reported here represents the large-scale excavations at the IA copper production site of Khirbat en-Nahas (KEN) (12) and is a part of a deep-time study of the impact of mining and metallurgy over the past 8 millennia in Jordan's Faynan district.Faynan is part of an IA polity known from the HB as Edom, located in the Saharo-Arabian desert zone in southern Transjordan. BCE, Edom extended westward across the Wadi Arabah, from Transjordan into the Negev Desert.It was initially sampled by the German Mining Museum (GMM) in the early 1990s (14).In 2002, we excavated the fortress gatehouse (Area A), a building devoted to copper slag processing (Area S), and ≈1.2 m of the upper part of a slag mound (Area M) by using stratigraphic methods. These dates confirmed the radiocarbon dates published earlier by the GMM (17). BCE, the stratified excavations in the lowlands of Edom provided an objective dating technique that linked this metal production center with the period of the early Israelite kings and their neighbors mentioned in the HB. BCE portion of this Levantine chronology is known as the IA IIa, a highly contentious period, but especially important for historical archaeology because it is partially dated on the synchronism between biblical texts related to Solomon's successor and son, Rehoboam (1 Kings –26 and 2 Chron.1200–500 BCE) copper production center in the southern Levant demonstrate major smelting activities in the region of biblical Edom (southern Jordan) during the 10th and 9th centuries BCE.Stratified radiocarbon samples and artifacts were recorded with precise digital surveying tools linked to a geographic information system developed to control on-site spatial analyses of archaeological finds and model data with innovative visualization tools.
As part of the expedition, an ≈5 × 5-m excavation square was opened in the industrial slag mound from the surface to virgin soil, following the contours of the 2002 excavation, to a depth of ≈6.1 m (Fig. This excavation revealed 35 superimposed layers of crushed slag, tapped earth and clay, and other materials related to copper smelting in this area.On the basis of the dating of the Edom highland excavations, Glueck's excavations at Tell el-Kheleifeh (which he identified with Solomon's Red Sea port of Ezion Geber in south Edom) and most IA sites in this region were reinterpreted as belonging to the 7th c. BCE phenomenon were discarded and assumed to date to the 7th–8th c. The C dates associated with smelting debris layers from Faynan reported here demonstrate intensive 10th–9th c.BCE industrial metallurgical activities conducted by complex societies.Accordingly, the events ascribed to the early Israelite and Judean kings from the 10th–9th c. BCE editors of the HB who resided in postexilic times in Babylon and later in Jerusalem. When British archaeologists carried out the first controlled excavations in the highlands of Edom (southern Jordan) in the 1970s and 1980s (7), using relative ceramic dating methods, they assumed that the Iron Age (IA) in Edom did not start before the 7th c.Some of the casualities of the scholarly debate between the traditional biblical scholarship and biblical minimalists has been the historicity of David and Solomon–the latter of which is traditionally cross-dated by biblical text (1 Kings ; ; and 2 Chronicles 12:2–9) and the military topographic list of the Egyptian Pharaoh Sheshonq I (Shishak in the HB) found at the Temple of Amun in Thebes and dated to the early 10th c. The power and prestige of Solomon as represented in the Bible has been most recently challenged on archaeological grounds by I. BCE, confirming the minimalist position concerning the HB and archaeology. Coinciding with the general “deconstruction” of Solomon as an historic figure, Glueck's identification of the Faynan mines as an important 10th c.