Recent Radiocarbon Results and King Solomon

By Finkelstein, Israel; Piasetzky, Eli | Antiquity, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Recent Radiocarbon Results and King Solomon


Finkelstein, Israel, Piasetzky, Eli, Antiquity


Introduction

The search for material remains of the United Monarchy of David and Solomon, who ruled in the tenth century BC (Cogan 1992), has been one of biblical archaeology's main endeavours (e.g. Yadin 1970; Dever 1997). One of the major problems it has had to contend with is that relative chronology in the field (what was built first and what came later) can be tied to an absolute chronological system only with the help of finds which anchor the local system to the great cultures of the Ancient Near East: Egypt or Mesopotamia. Such anchors exist for the twelfth century BC (late Ranaesside finds at sites such as Megiddo and Beth-shean; see, e.g. Weinstein 1981) and for the late eighth century BC (the Assyrian campaigns to Palestine; e.g. Ussishkin 1982). But the four centuries in between, which cover most of the history of monarchic Israel, lack such anchors. Inscriptions which could have provided the link-the Moabite Stone, the fragment of the Shoshenq I stele from Megiddo and the Tel Dan stele (for the latter see Biran & Naveh 1995)--were not found in clear archaeological contexts. Thus, archaeologists have been forced to turn to circumstantial evidence, mainly biblical verses, which describe building activities by the early Israelite monarchs.

The conventional theory was formulated by Yigael Yadin (1970). Yadin noted the great similarity between the city-gates at the sites of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer and the fact that these specific sites are mentioned in I Kings 9:15 as having been built by King Solomon. He suggested that these gates represent the "blueprint" architecture of the United Monarchy in the tenth century BC. Two ashlar palaces unearthed at Megiddo, which according to Yadin belong to the same stratigraphic horizon, have become the symbol of the grandeur of Solomonic Israel (e.g. Mazar 1990: 368-402; Dever 1990:85-117).

Yet, in recent years, this conventional dating has come under attack from different directions. The stratigraphy of Megiddo has been challenged (Ussishkin 1980); similar gates have been found at other sites, some later in date (Finkelstein & Beit-Arieh 1999), others located outside the borders of Israel at the time of Solomon even according to maximalist reconstruction (Dothan & Porath 1982). And it has become increasingly doubtful if the biblical description of the Solomonic period consists of reliable information on the tenth century BC (Van Seters 1983; Knauf 1991; Miller 1997; Niemann 1997).

Solomon's kingdom

Over a century of intensive archaeological investigations in Jerusalem, the capital of the Solomonic kingdom, has failed to reveal any meaningful monument that dates from the tenth century BC (Steiner 2001: 52; Finkelstein 2001). Well- preserved remains from the Middle Bronze Age and from the eighth century BC indicate that the reason for this cannot be sought in damage caused by later layers of occupation. Hence, tenth-century BC Jerusalem was no more than a small, poor village. And archaeological finds and historical sources alike show that territorial states appeared in the Levant only in the early ninth century, as a response to Assyrian imperialism (Finkelstein 1999).

All this can be considered as negative evidence. More straightforward data emerged from two northern sites, known to have been built at the time of the Omride Dynasty of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, in the early ninth century BC. The biblical references to the Omrides, and especially to their building activities, is widely considered to be more reliable historically than the descriptions of the United Monarchy, among other reasons because it is backed by Assyrian sources, which refer to the Northern Kingdom as "The House of Omri," that is the kingdom whose capital was built by King Omri. The destruction layer of the Omride compound at Jezreel--which dates to the mid-ninth century yielded a pottery assemblage identical to the one dated at nearby Megiddo to the tenth century (Zimhoni 1992; on the excavations see Ussishkin and Woodhead 1994; 1997). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Recent Radiocarbon Results and King Solomon
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.