Archaeologists in Jordan have located the remains of a copper mine that they say was in operation during the reigns of Israel's Kings David and Solomon.
"We're conclusively showing that the Iron Age chronology [of this region] has to be pushed back another 300 years," Thomas Levy, an anthropologist at the University of California, San Diego, told Discovery.
The shift in estimated Iron Age dates means the Jordan copper mine would have been in operation during the reigns of Kings David and Solomon who are referred to in the Old Testament but have not been verified as actual historical figures.
"Now we have to readdress many of the questions about the relationship between the Biblical text about this region in those centuries and the archaeological record," Levy said.
The study appears in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
According to the Bible, God chose King Solomon to build Jerusalem's first temple.
Hundreds of tons of copper were given to the project, as well as smaller amounts of gold and silver, the Bible says. Some English versions of the Old Testament use the word bronze instead of copper as a result of a mistranslation, Levy said.
If the Biblical account is historical, King Solomon and his father King David would have had to rule Israel during the tenth century BC, scholars agree.
"If he built the temple during the tenth century BC, he - according to the Bible - had to bring a lot of copper to Jerusalem, and the copper had to come from somewhere," said Amihai Mazar, an archaeologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was not involved with the study.
If the Bible's accounts of David and Solomon are rooted in reality, it is reasonable to figure the copper came from the closest known source, the contemporaneous site excavated by Levy and Jordanian archaeologist Mohammad Najjar in the area the Bible calls Edom, Discovery says.
King Solomon's Mines Rediscovered?