The renowned mines of King Solomon, purportedly responsible for amassing a legendary gold fortune exceeding £2.3 trillion ($3 trillion), are labeled a “complete myth” by a historian. According to the Old Testament, King Solomon accumulated an impressive 500 tonnes of pure gold from these mines, an idea that has sparked hopeful speculations about their potential existence and ongoing abundance of precious metals.
Contrary to these beliefs, a British expert challenges the narrative, asserting that the fabled source of Solomon’s incredible wealth is nothing more than a myth, devoid of historical reality. Additionally, this historian proposes a groundbreaking reinterpretation, suggesting that Solomon was not the king of Israel, as conventionally thought, but rather an Egyptian pharaoh. According to this perspective, the story of Solomon has been fundamentally “misinterpreted,” urging a reassessment of historical accounts and challenging established beliefs about the biblical ruler’s wealth and reign.
Is this the face of King Solomon? Mr Ellis suggests kings Solomon was Shoshenq I, who ruled an expanding empire that Egypt and Israel at the end of the 10th Century BCE
British historian and author Ralph Ellis believes King Solomon was in fact a pharaoh called Shoshenq I who ruled Egypt and Israel at the end of the 10th Century BCE.
Mr Ellis said finding Solomon’s lost mines is ‘about as likely as taking a dip in the Fountain of Youth’ – the mythical spring that supposedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks from its waters.
He led 20 years of research into the story of Solomon, which is told in the Old Testament books of Kings and Chronicles, in a bid to trace the fabled mines.
But Mr Ellis said the tales of staggering riches buried beneath the ground are likely a ‘gross misinterpretation’ of historical texts.
He said there is still a ‘grain of historical truth’ to the story of Solomon’s spectacular wealth, but in a far less legendary capacity.
His study, which began in 1997, ‘strongly indicates’ Solomon was not a rich king of Israel at all, but rather a feared and powerful Egyptian Pharaoh.
Mr Ellis believes neighbouring rulers plundered royal tombs located in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and presented the riches to Solomon as ‘tribute’ to prevent invasion.
Speaking about his book, ‘Solomon, Pharaoh of Egypt’, the 54-year-old historian said: ‘According to the Bible, King Solomon was staggeringly wealthy.
French archaeologist Pierre Montet discovered a treasure trove of plundered grave goods in the tombs of Tanis (pictured), which biblical historian Ralph Ellis believes were the historical basis for the fabled King Solomon’s Mines
The remnants of Tanis, identified as the capital city of Egyptian pharaoh Shoshenq I, form a crucial backdrop to Ralph Ellis’s unconventional perspective. Ellis posits that notable parallels exist between biblical figures David and Solomon and the historical counterparts Psusennes and Shoshenq.
He questions the longstanding quest by theologians and archaeologists in the Holy Land to locate the capital city, palace, temple, and wealth of Solomon, emphasizing the lack of success in these endeavors. Ellis proposes a critical reevaluation, suggesting that either the biblical narrative is entirely fictional, or the search might be misguided in terms of location and objectives.
According to his research, Ellis contends that there is a factual foundation for the tale of Solomon and his wealth. However, he asserts that biblical scribes significantly altered and obscured this historical account. This perspective challenges established beliefs and encourages a reconsideration of the biblical narrative within a more nuanced historical context.
The treasure trove discovered at Tanis, including a solid silver sarcophagus, now showcased at the Cairo Museum, plays a pivotal role in Ralph Ellis’s alternative interpretation of biblical history. Ellis challenges the conventional narrative by proposing that neighboring rulers, seeking to avert invasion, looted royal tombs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and presented the acquired riches to King Solomon as a form of ‘tribute.’
In opposition to traditional views, Ellis contends that a wealthy and influential Israelite dynasty did exist, as asserted by the Bible. However, he suggests these rulers were not exclusively Israelite kings, and their capital city was not situated in Jerusalem. According to Ellis, the biblical accounts become less perplexing when viewed through the lens of his alternative interpretation.
Ellis acknowledges that his theory may be met with resistance, particularly from Israeli archaeologists, due to political and cultural considerations. However, he maintains that his perspective provides a more coherent explanation for the seemingly conflicting biblical narratives. In his view, later biblical authors may have found the notion of Israelite kings also being pharaohs “unpalatable and unacceptable,” prompting a modification of their history to portray a ‘purely Israelite’ hero.
If Ellis’s theory holds true, he suggests that Solomon’s treasures, linked to the acquired riches from neighboring rulers, could potentially be identified among the artifacts on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. This assertion opens up intriguing possibilities for reevaluating historical records and challenging established interpretations of biblical stories.
Pictured is a priceless golden mask discovered at Tanis. Mr Ellis said there is still a ‘grain of historical truth’ to the story of Solomon’s spectacular wealth, but in a far less legendary capacity
Golden tableware (pictured) was among the many treasures looted from the Valley of the Kings to pay tribute to Shoshenq I
According to the Old Testament, King Solomon ruled over the United Monarchy of Israel and Judea from 970 to 931 BC, amassing an astounding 500 tonnes of pure gold. The primary source of this wealth was believed to be a region referred to as ‘Ophir.’ However, the Bible provides limited details about Ophir’s exact location, leaving it shrouded in mystery.
Despite numerous expeditions inspired by Rider Haggard’s 1885 novel, ‘King Solomon’s Mines,’ which explored Africa, Arabia, and Asia, no universally accepted evidence confirming the existence or location of Ophir has been found. Author Ralph Ellis proposes an intriguing theory that challenges traditional beliefs. Ellis suggests that if his theory holds true, Solomon’s treasures might be readily found at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where numerous artifacts from that era are on display.
Ellis’s theory goes further, proposing that King Solomon and his father, David, were, in fact, the pharaohs Psusennes II and Shoshenq I. He points out compelling parallels between the biblical accounts of David and Solomon and the historical records of Psusennes and Shoshenq. Ellis asserts, “Even the ancestors and family members of these ‘two’ royal dynasties appear to be exactly the same.” According to him, understanding these ‘Israelite’ kings as pharaohs of Lower Egypt could reconcile inconsistencies in the biblical narratives. This perspective opens up new avenues for interpreting the historical and biblical records, challenging conventional views on the ancient rulers and their wealth.