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A new, laboratory-based affirmation of the existence of a united Israelite monarchy headed by kings David and Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E. has been revealed as the result of excavations carried out by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archeology.

The findings have particular significance in view of the debate existing among archaeologists as to the authenticity of the biblical account of the two kings and the period and extent of their reign.

The late, famed Hebrew University archaeologist Prof.Yigael Yadin argued more than 40 years ago that a series of monumental structures and particularly the city gates of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer as well as certain palaces at Megiddo were founded by Solomon, corroborating the text in I Kings 9:15. However, during the last decade various scholars criticized this view and claim that the United Monarchy of David and Solomon should be dismissed as a real historical period of any value in the history of Israel. Indeed, it has even been argued by these critics that the findings described by Yadin were only from the 9th century B.C.E., the period of the Israelite kings Omri and Ahab.

Writing in the April 11 issue of Science magazine, Prof. Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University, Dr. Hendrik Bruins of Ben-Gurion University, and Prof. Hans Van der Plicht of Groningen University, Holland, tell of their findings from excavations at Tel Rehov, located some 5 kilometers south of the town of Beit She'an in the Beit She'an Valley. The scholars argue that these findings conclusively prove that they found at Tel Rehov signs of an urban society from the 10th century B.C.E. which can be compared with finds from other sites in Israel, such as Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer, which were attributed in the past to the United Monarchy.

The excavations at Tel Rehov have been carried out since 1997 under the direction of Prof. Mazar, the Eleazar L. Sukenik Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, with the financial support of John Camp of Minneapolis, Minn. The excavations revealed several strata from the time of the Judges (12-11th centuries B.C.E.) until the Assyrian conquest of Israel in the 8th century B.C.E.

In the article in Science, Mazar, Bruins and Van der Plicht write of radiometric carbon 14 tests that were carried out at Groningen University on charred grain and olive pits found in various strata at Tel Rehov. The dates achieved in this research were particularly precise, with minimal range. The authors further state that this is one of the best sets of radiometric dates based on stratigraphic sequence from any site related to the biblical period.

The results show that two strata at Tel Rehov are safely dated to the 10th century B.C.E. One stratum was destroyed in heavy fire. The date of this destruction fits very well with the reign of Shishak, the Egyptian Pharaoh who invaded the Land of Israel around 925 B.C.E. and whose invasion is mentioned both in the Bible (I Kings 14:25) and in his monumental inscription at the temple of Amun at Karnak, Egypt, where Rehov is mentioned among many other places conquered at that time.

Since the Shishak conquest occurred a few years after the death of Solomon, the identification of a city destroyed by him at Tel Rehov provides an anchor for dating other sites with similar material culture. This similar culture was found at Hazor and Megiddo in occupation levels which were identified as "Solomonic" in the past.

Thus, these results provide a new foundation for the traditional view concerning the attribution of occupation strata and buildings at Tel Rehov (and conjunctively other locales in the region ) to the time of the United Monarchy of Solomon and David, and negates the view that all these finds should be dated to the 9th century.


Contact: Jerry Barach,, 972-2-588-2904, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Source of the given news and the copyrights belong to a Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Publishing date: April 21, 2003



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