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The analytical approach advocated here argues for an historical biblical archaeology rooted in the application of science-based methods that enables subcentury dating and the control of the spatial context of data through digital recording tools.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.The new radiocarbon dates push back by 2 centuries the accepted IA chronology of Edom.Data from Khirbat en-Nahas, and the nearby site of Rujm Hamra Ifdan, demonstrate the centrality of industrial-scale metal production during those centuries traditionally linked closely to political events in Edom's 10th century BCE neighbor ancient Israel.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).
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.