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Solomon So Long?

Archaeology dig in Israel causes reassessment of ancient Middle East

The findings of a dig underway this month in central Israel could cast doubt on the previous existence of a mighty Solomonic kingdom and lead to a re-evaluation of dating processes throughout the Middle East.

The dig at Tel Jezreel could finally reveal that the biblical royal kingdom of Israel, contrary to tradition, reached its height a hundred years after Solomon.

John Woodhead from the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, who is leading the team, says the results from previous seasons at Tel Jezreel already point towards this controversial conclusion. Findings over the next few weeks could yield more vital clues.

Perched on the westernmost spur of Mount Gilboa and overlooking a green and fertile valley, ancient Jezreel was built, according to the Old Testament, by King Omri and his son Ahah in the ninth century BC.

The city – or tel – is linked with one of the first recorded arguments over civil rights in history. Urged on by Jezabel his wife, King Ahab wanted to acquire the vineyard of Naboth the Jezraelite which was next to his royal palace. Naboth refused to let Ahab have it and was stoned to death. The prophet Elijah warned Ahab that as a consequence the dogs would eat Jezabel and the Omride kingdom would collapse.

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