C14 dating affirms Scripture/Scripture affirms C14 dating!
San Francisco Chronicle
A judgment about Solomon
Evidence supports Hebrew kingdoms in biblical times
David Perlman, Chronicle Science Editor
Deep in the ruins of a Hebrew town sacked nearly 3,000 years ago by an Egyptian Pharaoh, scientists say they have discovered new evidence for the real-life existence of the Bible's legendary kingdoms of David and Solomon.
The evidence refutes recent claims by other researchers who insist that the biblical monarchs were merely mythic characters, created by scholars and scribes of antiquity who made up the tales long after the events to buttress their own morality lessons.
The debate, however, is not likely to subside, for archaeology is a field notable for its lengthy quarrels among partisans, however scientific they may be.
The latest evidence comes from Israeli and Dutch archaeologists and physicists after seven years of digging at a historic site called Tel Rehov. The site is in the Jordan valley of Israel, where successive settlements rose and fell over the centuries.
Using highly sophisticated techniques for establishing dates through the decay rate of radioactive carbon, the scientists have pinned down the time of a disputed moment in history, recorded in the Bible, when a Pharaoh now known as Shoshenq I invaded Jerusalem.
As the book of Chronicles relates in the Old Testament, Shoshenq (the Bible called him Shishak) came "with twelve hundred chariots and threescore thousand horsemen" and plundered Israel's capital, as well as such towns and fortresses as Rehov, Megiddo and Hazor.
The Pharaoh later listed those conquests on a monument in the temple of Amun at Karnak, where the Egyptian city of Luxor now stands.
The new timetable places Shoshenq's rampage and looting at Rehov in the 10th century rather than the 9th, a highly significant difference. It sets the date at about 925 B.C., some five years after Solomon was said to have died, and some 80 years earlier than other archaeologists maintain.
Those scholars, known in the world of archaeology as "minimalists," insist that both David and Solomon were little more than tribal chieftains, and certainly not the mighty monarchs of the Bible.
A report on the new evidence appears today in the journal Science by Hendrik Bruins, a desert researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, Johannes van der Plicht of the Center for Isotope Research at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, and Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the principal archaeologist at Tel Rehov.
In a telephone interview, Mazar said that one specific "layer of destruction" at the site yielded a harvest of charred grain seeds and olive pits that enabled his colleagues to date them with an unusually high level of precision. The dates of both earlier and later layers showed clearly how the successive layers of occupation could be determined from the 12th through the 9th centuries B.C., he said.
"They provide a precise archaeological anchor for the united monarchies of the time of David and Solomon," Mazar said. "The pottery we found there also tells us that the conquest dates from the same period as Meggido, when its mighty gates and walls and temples were also destroyed by Shoshenq's armies."
More than 40 years ago the late Yigael Yadin, who won fame as an army officer during Israel's war for independence, turned to archaeology and after excavating the imposing ruins at Megiddo maintained that they were in fact destroyed during the so-called Solomonic period.
Recently, however, a group of archaeologists led by Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University working at Megiddo has insisted that the so-called Solomon's gate there dates from a much later time -- perhaps 100 or even 200 years after Solomon.
Finkelstein read a copy of the Mazar report that was sent him by e-mail. After replying that Mazar "is a fine scholar," he insisted that "there are many problems with his archaeological data" and that the samples of material used for the radiocarbon dating are at best questionable.
In the past, Finkelstein has accused Mazar of harboring a "sentimental, somewhat romantic approach to the archaeology of the Iron Age," according to an earlier account in Science.
On Thursday, however, one of the leaders in the archaeology of Israel, Professor Lawrence E. Stager, who is director of Harvard University's Semitic Museum, dismissed the claims of Finkelstein and the other archaeologists who share his views.
"Mazar and his colleagues have now put another nail in the coffin of Finkelstein's theories," Stager said. "There's no question that Rehov and the other cities that Shoshenq conquered were indeed there at the time of Solomon.
"We don't need to rely any more only on the Bible or on Shoshenq's inscriptions at Karnak to establish that Solomon and his kingdom really existed, because we now have the superb evidence of the radiocarbon dates."
copied from http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2003/04/11/MN24970.DTL
Radio-dating backs up biblical text
11 September 2003
HELEN R. PILCHER
The 500 meter-long tunnel still carries water to the
city of David
An ancient waterway, described in the Bible, has been located and radiocarbon-dated to around 700 BC1.
The half-kilometre Siloam Tunnel still carries water from the Gihon Spring into Jerusalem's ancient city of David. According to verses in Kings 2 and Chronicles 2 2, it was built during the reign of the King Hezekiah - between 727 BC and 698 BC - to protect the city's water supply against an imminent Assyrian siege. Critics argue that a stone inscription close to the exit dates the tunnel at around 2 BC.
To solve the conundrum, geologist Amos Frumkin, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and colleagues looked at the decay of radioactive elements - such as carbon in plants and thorium in stalactites - in tunnel samples.
The plaster lining the tunnel was laid down around 700 BC, says Frumkin's team. A plant trapped inside the waterproof layer clocked in at 700-800 BC, whereas a stalactite formed around 400 BC. "The plant must have been growing before the tunnel was excavated; the stalactite grew after it was excavated," explains Frumkin.
The study "makes the tunnel's age certain", says archaeologist Henrik Bruins of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. The Siloam Tunnel is now the best-dated Iron Age biblical structure so far identified.
The remains of buildings and structures described in the Bible are notoriously difficult to find. Specimens are rare, poorly preserved, hard to identify and often troublesome to access. Says James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, UK: "This scientific verification of historical details in the Bible challenges those who do no wish to take it seriously."
The samples also help to explain how the tunnel was built. The passage is sealed with layers of plaster, the deepest and oldest of which is directly above the bedrock, with no sediment between. This shows that the plaster was applied immediately after the tunnel was built, Frumkin says.
"It's also quite unique to find well-preserved plant remains in plaster," says Bruins. Workers may have made up huge quantities outside the tunnel, where the plants could have become mixed in, and then taken it inside.
Large enough to walk inside, the Siloam Tunnel zigzags through an ancient hill. Its carved inscription describes how two teams of men, starting on opposite sides of the mountain, managed to meet in the middle. They may have followed a natural fissure in the limestone rock, Bruin suggests.
It's quite unique to find well-preserved plant remains in plaster
Unusually, the inscription does not name King Hezekiah - other monarchs commonly boasted of their architectural achievements in stone. The carving is six metres inside the tunnel, so it must have been made by lamplight.
"It wasn't meant to be seen by the public," says Biblical historian Andrew Millard of Liverpool University, UK. "I think it was the workmen recording what an extraordinary feat they had accomplished."
- Frumkin, A., Shimron, A. & Rosenbaum, J. Radiometric dating of the Siloam Tunnel, Jerusalem. Nature, 425, 169 - 171, (2003). |Article|
- 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:3,4.
© Nature News Service / Macmillan Magazines Ltd 2003
copied from http://www.nature.com/nsu/030908/030908-9.html
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