In 1941 the results of Nelson
Glueck's expedition to the coast of the north tip of the Red Sea near Akaba (Aquaba), Jordan were published
by the Smithsonian Institute (DC) Annual Report (1941) and issued by the US government printing office.
Nelson Glueck reported that he discovered the seaport used by Jotham and the Judean kings.
Some of the following information was taken from Glueck's government
report, his books, journal articles and Gary D. Practico's 1993
reappraisel of his work at Akaba/Eilat.
In the Bible it was written:
And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is beside Elath, on the shore of
the Red Sea, in the land of Edom. 9:27 And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen
that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. 9:28 And they came to
Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it
to King Solomon. (ASV 1901)
After a survey of parts of Southern Jordan, the Negev, and
the Wadi Arabah; Nelson concluded that the ruins about 550 meters north of the
Red Sea between Akaba, Jordan and Eilat, Israel (British Palestine) named Tell
Elath written about in the Bible. There were numerous copper and iron
mines on the west and east sides of the Arabah rift valley between the Red
Sea and the Dead Sea. The site of Tell Kheleifeh was equipped with a forge
during the first period of occupation (dated by Glueck to the 10th cent.
BC), it stood for several centuries. It may have used ventilation from the prevailing north
wind that reached gale force during times of wind storms. The metal
working area wall had many holes
in its sides. At first Glueck thought this was a reduction furnace for
melting ore, later he thought it was an area where they remelted copper
ingot forms as they only found small quantities of slag. The holes
might have been formed after half round (split) logs either rotted or were
burned away. The logs might have been used to strengthen the walls,
or they might have been put there to form ventilation holes as these were
also found in a wall near an area where numerous ovens were found. The mud brick (adobe)
workshop area was heated until the sides
became baked hard like fired brick. There was a layer of green oxidized
copper compound on the sides of the smelter reported as originating from
copper sulfide compounds that were oxidized in the flames. There were numerous copper
objects found in the complex with clay crucibles on site that had been
filled with charcoal, ore, and lime as a flux. There were containers
filled with green copper ore in the ruins. The plaster was fused to the hardened walls. Not much slag was
found in the immediate area. The slag found was of high tin
content. Glueck abandoned his theory that the site was a blast
furnace, but indicated it might have been a foundry where metal ingots
were melted and poured into forms. An area to the north of the workshop remained unexcavated
into the 21st century. There was a recent Jordanian military
Nelson Glueck used
errant pottery methods to date the
first level of the tell to the 10th century time of Solomon. The
casemate wall structure of the early ruins was typical of 10th century
fortresses. Glueck indicated a fortress at Yotvatah to the north of
from the time of Solomon in the 10th century. More recent
excavations have focused on a Roman structure there. Archaeologist
Jodi Magness who was part of the excavations of the fortress indicated
they had found a Roman fortress in the area of the Yotvata Oasis north of Eilat. Glueck's pottery dating techniques
may not have been well defined in those days.
The second period of occupation of Tell Kheleifeh
probably began with the reign of Amaziah or Uzziah (Azariah) in the early 8th century
and extended to the reign of his son Jotham. There was a signet ring
engraved, "Belonging to Jotham (YTM)" found in the ruins: jotham.htm.
According to the Bible the Judeans won a battle over the
control of the Dead Sea area c. late 9th century BC. This was during the reign of Judean King Amaziah. After
Amaziah the Judean King Uzziah (Azariah) reigned in the early 8th century BC. According to the Bible
he rebuilt Elath. He ruled at age 16 and continued for 52 years winning
numerous campaigns. His son Jotham, probably an older man when he began to
rule, reigned 16 years. According to the Bible the following reign of Ahaz
was a corrupt administration and the Edomites captured Elath. According to
archaeological evidence the port was occupied during periods when Biblical
authorities described it was under Judean control; as was the case for much of the 8th century.
During the period dated to the time of Israeli rule (8th century) there
was a brick tomb complex that contained some pottery, animal bones, and a
camel buried with the remains of a man. Grave robbers had found the tomb
before the archaeologists and only a few artifacts remained.
During the fourth period of occupation from c.
600 - 400 BC a jar with a South Arabian (Minaean) writing was found. Nelson
concluded that either the jar was from South Arabia or a South Arabian was
living in Elath.
From Greek times in the 3rd century until late Roman
and Byzantine times a town a few kilometers SE of Elath flourished.
It was called Aila. This was in the vicinity of Akaba near its sweet water wells and groves
of date palms.
The 10th century BC shipyard of Solomon, Ezion
Geber was supposed to have been near Elath. The ancient shore line was further
inland than today's shore, probably quite close to Tell Kheleifeh
according to Glueck. The tenth century occupation of Tell Kheleifeh
may not be confirmed at this time. According to later studies of
the Kheleifeh pottery by Gary Pratico, there was
pottery collected that may be dated to the time of Jotham, but none from
the time of Solomon. There was a note that what might be the earliest phase of
construction at the site was not well consolidated nor was there pottery
available to date it. (Nelson Glueck's 1938-1940 Excavations at Tell
el-Kheleifeh a Reappraisal, by Gary Pratico, 1993)