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Solomon’s Negev Defense Line Contained Three Fewer Fortresses, Rudolph Cohen, Biblical Archaeology Review (12:4), Jul/Aug 1986.

Ein Avdat, Negev

Ein Avdat, Negev. By Andrew Shiva / Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In the May-June 1985 BAR,a I reported on a large number of Iron Age fortresses in the central Negev desert. I argued that these fortresses (more than 40), formed Solomon’s defense line on the south. Together with their associated settlements, they revealed a uniform fortification effort involving the systematic construction of substantial strongholds. Such a building program, I asserted, had to have been directed by a strong central authority, like the one that existed in Solomon’s time (tenth century B.C.). The plans of these fortresses were oval for the most part, but some were rectangular with unequal sides, and four were square.

As a result of excavations conducted in the spring of 1985, it is now clear that three of the four square fortresses were misdated.b They should be dated to the Persian period (sixth to fourth centuries B.C.) rather than to the tenth century B.C., as I previously dated them.

I hasten to add that redating these three square fortresses does not materially affect the thesis presented in my article. There are simply three fewer fortresses to support it. That is all. Dozens of fortresses in the area still unquestionably date to the Iron Age (tenth century B.C.).

Read the rest of Solomon’s Negev Defense Line Contained Three Fewer Fortresses in the online Biblical Archaeology Society Library.

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