King Solomon’s Mines found

Based on multi-disciplinary investigations, Erez Ben-Yosef concluded that the copper mines at Timna formed part of an extensive economic/industrial system operated by the Edomites.

Timna Park. (photo credit: JNF USA)
Timna Park.
(photo credit: JNF USA)
People are fascinated by King Solomon and his fabled wisdom, fantastic wealth, and tantalizing liaison with the beauteous Queen of Sheba. For 3,000 years, there have been numerous efforts made to locate King Solomon’s mines, and in the last year alone, there have been two cable television documentaries investigating recent discoveries confirming that the legendary mines are in Timna Park, located deep in the deserts of  Southern Israel. This is the most important archaeological breakthrough since the naming of King Solomon’s Pillars there 90 years ago by world-famous archaeologist Nelson Glueck. 
For the last 70 years, many archaeologists assumed that King Solomon was at best a minor local chieftain, simply because no credible evidence had been found documenting his Biblical realm in 900 BCE. However, discoveries beginning 10 years ago at Timna, led by Erez Ben-Yosef, a young articulate archaeologist (who sports a leather hat but does not carry a bullwhip), have upended these theories. Ben-Yosef examined the 1,000 copper mines at Timna and found materials which could be carbon-dated. He was quite surprised to find that they were from 900 BCE, corresponding with the specified period of Solomon’s rule in the Bible.
This year, Ben-Yosef made further revolutionary discoveries of food, dung, and pristine clothing amazingly well-preserved by the region’s dry climate, which was also carbon-dated to the Solomonic period. Based on multi-disciplinary investigations, Ben-Yosef concluded that the copper mines formed part of an extensive economic/industrial system operated by the Edomites, a local tribe also described in the Bible.  Furthermore, it appears the Edomites smelted copper ore and traded it in exchange for passage through Solomon’s territory.  As part of the trade, Solomon also supplied luxury foods—not available locally—to Edomite artisan smelters at the mines.  Ben-Yosef states that “if King Solomon had mines, they were of copper, and were here [at Timna].”
Copper was the most valuable mineral of that age, equivalent to oil in our day. Experts now believe that Solomon traded copper from Timna’s mines for the gold and silver used in the Temple in Jerusalem and his cities. 
These facts are fully described in a fascinating episode of “Smithsonian Secrets” (Season 5, Episode 6), told like a detective story, where Ben-Yosef and other investigators make findings which cause us to “totally rethink history.” Another prominent English historian describes Solomon as a “savvy entrepreneur” who extorted copper tribute in exchange for passage rights, like a modern industrial tycoon.
A History Channel installment of “In Search Of” (Season 2, Episode 4) shows recent finds at Tigray, Ethiopia, by Louise Schofield, a former curator at the  British Museum.  In it Sisay Tsegay, a noted historian, states that the Queen of Sheba was probably the source of Solomon’s gold. They have already uncovered the queen’s palace and soon hope to discover her mines.
My family has been working with Jewish National Fund-USA (JNF) and the Israeli government in Timna Park for 30 years, donating and raising funds in the US and overseeing the park’s development. My father, Avrum Chudnow, was instrumental in building an artificial lake which is now a focal point of the park, and one of the first in the Middle East. I have been involved in constructing the park’s Visitor Center and other attractions. I have served on Jewish National Fund’s Greater Los Angeles Board for 35 years. These recent archaeological developments at Timna bring the park the validation and recognition which has been long overdue.
The park is located 20 miles north of Eilat, in Israel’s vast Negev Desert. The Ramon-Timna Airport has just opened across from the park; it is the third largest airport in Israel and currently receives about 80% of its traffic from former Eastern bloc countries. It is anticipated to receive up to two million tourists a year. A luxury hotel is also planned near the entrance of the park. 
In addition to its historic and geologic splendor, Timna affords many opportunities for recreational activities, be it biking, hiking, boating, stargazing, camping, ballooning, rock climbing, or yoga. With these recent discoveries, Timna now also offers the opportunity for visitors to walk in King Solomon’s footsteps, and gain a glimpse into Israel’s rich Biblical past.