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Archaeological Find Supports Biblical Account

Within the ruins of a large copper-processing center in the lowlands of Jordan, an international team of archaeologists has found evidence that shows Edom may have been an advanced society as early as the 12th century B.C. The evidence proves that it was most definitely an advanced society by the 10th century.

Why is this significant? In biblical history, the Edomites were the descendants of Esau and a continual thorn in Israel's side. Edom, though smaller than Israel, occasionally had to be dealt with by force, perhaps most notably by kings David and Solomon.

Scholastic society has long debated the reliability of the Bible as history. A significant contingent of scholars has long held that the Edomites, who were a nomadic people, could not have become a cohesive society by the 10th century B.C.—thus negating the biblical accounts of a genuine rivalry between the Israelites in Judah and the Edomites. This school of thought believes that the biblical writers exaggerated the advancement of both states.

But Dr. Thomas Levy—an archaeologist from the University of California, San Diego, and a leader of the excavation—concluded that the findings in the Jordanian lowlands fortify the biblical account. Radiocarbon dating of charred wood, grain, and fruit has yielded the first high-precision dates in the region, and the discovery of hammers, grinding stones, scarabs, and ceramics is telling evidence of Edom's stature at the time.

Levy and his fellow researcher, Dr. Mohammed Najjar, have met with both enthusiastic support and heated criticism from their academic peers. Still, they maintain that the excavation of the copper works at Khirbat en-Nahas "demonstrates the weak reed on the basis of which a number of scholars have scoffed at the idea of a state or complex chiefdom in Edom at this early period."

They added, "The biblical references to the Edomites, especially their conflicts with David and subsequent Judahite kings, garner a new plausibility."

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