In Spain, an Archaeologist Discovers Traces of King Solomon’s Commercial Success

April 29, 2021 | Dalya Alberge
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While there is ample archaeological and documentary evidence corroborating the Davidic monarchy described in the Hebrew Bible, none of it confirms the reign of David himself, or of his son Solomon—who would have lived in the 10th century BCE. But the marine archaeologist Sean Kingsley, by focusing on the biblical account of Israelite prosperity and flourishing international trade under Solomon’s rule, may have changed that. Dalya Alberge writes:

Over ten years, Kingsley has carried out a maritime audit of “the Solomon question.” By extending the search beyond the Holy Land, across the Mediterranean to Spain and Sardinia, he found that archaeological evidence supports biblical descriptions of a partnership between Solomon, who “excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom,” and the Phoenician king Hiram, who “supplied Solomon with cedar timber and gold, as much as he desired.”

[Kingsley] explored Andalusian port towns from Mezquitilla to Málaga and found that the archaeological evidence reveals “a Phoenician coast.” He visited the site of the great mine of the ancient world, Rio Tinto—43 miles inland from Huelva—which produced gold, silver, lead, copper, and zinc. . . . Kingsley said that lead isotope analysis has shown that silver hoards excavated in Israel originally came from Iberia. Recent digs in nearby Huelva have found evidence of the Israelites and Phoenicians, including elephant tusks, merchants’ shekel weights, and pottery. The Near Eastern link can be dated as far back as 930 BCE, the end of Solomon’s reign.

Kingsley has concluded that Huelva is “the best fit for the capital of the biblical Tarshish,” the ancient source of imported metals, which archaeologists have “signposted wildly” everywhere from southern Israel to the Red Sea, Ethiopia to Tunisia. . . . “Neither Israel nor Lebanon could tap into local gold and silver resources,” [said Kingsley]. “The biblical entrepreneurs were forced to look to the horizon. The land of Tarshish was a vital source for Solomon’s silver. As the book of Ezekiel recorded: ‘Tarshish did business with you because of your great wealth of goods.’”

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