It took Turkish bees to make Israel flow with milk and honey.
When archaeologist Amihai Mazar and colleagues turned up 3,000-year-old remains of hundreds of preserved beehives from the ancient town of Tel Rehov in 2007, it was the first confirmation of the ancient beekeeping suggested by Egyptian paintings and Biblical references. Now, three years later, the team has published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with the analysis of the “honeybee workers, drones, pupae, and larvae” found inside those hives. Surprise—they’re from Turkey, hundreds of miles away.
The findings “would imply an incredible amount of commodity trading of bees,” said bee expert Gene Kritsky of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, editor of American Entomologist. The importation of Italian bees to the United States in the 1860s “was thought to be a big deal then,” he said, “but the Israelis may have been doing this as far back as the first millennium BC” [Los Angeles Times].
Researchers say they have found the copper mines ruled over by the biblical king Solomon, bolstering the position of scholars who argue that Solomon was a historical figure and not a mythological one. In a controversial find, a team of archaeologists has dated charcoal samples from a copper ore smelting operation, and says the oldest samples date from the 10th century B.C. when the Bible says Solomon ruled Israel and Judah. “We can’t believe everything ancient writings tell us,” [lead researcher Thomas] Levy said. “But this research represents a confluence between the archaeological and scientific data and the Bible” [Telegraph].
The existence of Solomon 3,000 years ago has been questioned by some scholars over the last two decades because of the paucity of archaeological evidence supporting the biblical record and the belief that there were no complex societies in Israel or Edom capable of building fortresses, monuments and other sophisticated public works, such as large mines, in the 10th century BC. “This is the most hotly debated period in biblical archaeology today” [Los Angeles Times], said Levy.