Archaeologists uncover gates of Solomon's desert fortress described in 1 Kings

Solomon's pillars in Timna Park. | Wikimedia Commons/Dr. Avishai Teicher

Archaeologists have uncovered what are likely to be the gates to Solomon's desert fortress during a five-day dig at the Biblical Tamar Park in southern Israel.

Participants in the dig believe that the new discovery provides evidence to the Biblical account of Judean control of Tamar.

"The Bible says that Solomon built a fortress in the desert. The archeologists are sure that they have found all the hallmarks of the gate of Solomon – all the hallmarks of the fortified city. They believe this was a fortress built by Solomon," Paul Lagno, Bible student and participant in the excavation, told Breaking Israel News.

"The archeological evidence is consistent with 1 Kings 9:19, where it says Solomon built Tamar in the wilderness. In addition, the pagan altars destroyed by King Josiah as described in 1 Kings 13:3 were also found, right outside of the gates," he added.

Dr. Tali Erickson-Gini, an excavator and archaeologist employed by the Israel Antiquities Authority, said that the gates were the earliest fortifications at the Biblical Tamar excavation site, likely dating back to the First Temple Period.

Breaking Israel News noted that the gates were partially uncovered by Dr. Rudolph Cohen and Dr. Yigal Israel in 1995, but the site was filled with sand again because the group could not finish the excavations.

"We are working on very ancient parts of the site, which includes a four-chambered gate. We found some deposition in what we believe to be the street level next to the gate," Erickson-Gini said.

She said she is hoping to find new evidence that will help the researchers understand the settlement process and construction that were carried out at the site during different time periods.

The Biblical Tamar Park, one of the oldest archaeological sites in southern Israel, is curated by the Christian organization Blossoming Rose, which was founded by Dr. DeWayne Coxon in 1983.

The organization has poured millions of dollars of donations into the park in the last 30 years to provide security and beautification.

Lagno, who has worked as a Bible student with Blossoming Rose since 2010, said that the latest discovery at the park would shed light on the Jewish religion as well as the foundation for Christian beliefs.

Other archaeological discoveries in Israel are also providing researchers with more insight about the biblical king Solomon.

Last year, archaeologists uncovered a 3,000-year-old dung in an ancient mining camp atop a sandstone mesa known as Slaves' Hill in Timna Valley.

Before the excavation project began in 2013, the site was initially linked to the New Kingdom of Egypt in the 13th and early 12th centuries B.C. However, the high-precision radiocarbon dating of the dung revealed that the mining camp's heyday was during the 10th century B.C., the era of the biblical kings David and Solomon.

The Bible states that King Solomon had embarked on several building projects, including a temple in Jerusalem that was lavishly decorated with gold and bronze, but the scriptures are silent about the location of such projects.

While the mining operation in Timna Valley is not yet linked to Solomon himself, the new findings suggest that the region was home to a complex society, most likely the Edomites, who were said to have been defeated by King David.