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An advanced military fortification -- a well-defined gatehouse complex -- unearthed recently at Timna, including donkey stables, points to the community's highly-organized defense system and significant dependence on long-distance trade.
The research was recently published in The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.
"While there is no explicit description of 'King Solomon's mines' in the Old Testament, there are references to military conflicts between Israel and the Edomites in the Arava Valley," says Dr. "According to the Bible, David traveled hundreds of miles outside of Jerusalem and engaged in military conflict in the desert -- striking down '18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt.' Now, having found evidence of defensive measures -- a sophisticated fortification -- we understand what must have been at stake for him in this remote region: copper." Military threats "Copper was a rare product and very challenging to produce," Dr. "Because copper -- like oil today, perhaps -- was the most coveted commodity, it landed at the very heart of military conflicts.Erez Ben-Yosef of TAU's Institute of Archaeology and one of the leaders of the Timna research and excavation team, along with his colleagues Dr. The discovery of the fortification indicates a period of serious instability and military threats at that time in the region." In the remarkably intact two-room fortification, located in one of the largest smelting camps in the Timna Valley, the researchers also found evidence of a complex long-distance trade system that probably included the northern Edomite plateau, the Mediterranean coastal plain and Judea.