by Staff Writers
Oxford, England (UPI) Sep 4, 2013
Evidence shows ancient Egypt's transformation from a land of disparate farmers to a state ruled by a king was quicker than previously thought, researchers say.
Scientists at the University of Oxford in Britain say radiocarbon dating and computer models suggest the civilization's first ruler, King Aha, came to power in about 3100 B.C.
The pre-dynastic period, when early groups began to settle along the Nile and farm the land, had been thought to have began in 4000 B.C.
The new study revealed this process started later, between 3700 and 3600 B.C., and the society had transformed into one ruled by a king just a few centuries later.
"The time period is shorter than was previously thought -- about 300 or 400 years shorter," Oxford's Michael Dee told the BBC. "Egypt was a state that emerged quickly -- over that time one has immense social change.
"The formation of Egypt was unique in the ancient world. It was a territorial state; a state from which the moment it formed had established borders over a territory in much the same way we think of nations today," he said. "This is interesting when one compares it with other places. In Mesopotamia, for example, you have agriculture for several thousand years before you have anything like a state."
Archaeological evidence suggests King Solomon's mines existed
Copper mines previously thought to have been built by ancient Egyptians in the 13th century B.C. actually originated three centuries later during the reign of the legendary King Solomon, they said.
Scholarly research and analysis of materials found in the area -- the Timna Valley in Israel's Aravah Desert -- suggest the mines were operated by the Edomites, a semi-nomadic tribal confederation mentioned in the Bible as warring constantly with Israel, a release from the American Friends of Tel Aviv University reported Tuesday.
"The mines are definitely from the period of King Solomon," Tel Aviv archaeology Professor Erez Ben-Yosef said. "They may help us understand the local society, which would have been invisible to us otherwise."
Excavation revealed a massive smelting camp containing the remnants of hundreds of furnaces and layers of copper slag, the waste created during the smelting process.
Cooperation among thousands of people would have been required to operate the mines in the middle of the desert, the researchers said.
"In Timna Valley, we unearthed a society with undoubtedly significant development, organization, and power," Ben-Yosef said. "And yet because the people were living in tents, they would have been transparent to us as archaeologists if they had been engaged in an industry other than mining and smelting, which is very visible archaeologically."
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