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A group of archaeologists say that they've found the ancient biblical kingdom of Edom
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A group of archaeologists say that they've found the ancient biblical kingdom of Edom

The Bible says that Edom was founded by Jacob's brother Esau

A team of archaeologists say that they've found the ancient kingdom of Edom.

Remind me — what was Edom?

Edom was an ancient kingdom that bordered, and often fought with Israel. According to Genesis Chapter 36, Edom was founded by Jacob's brother Esau and his descendants. Timna was the name of one of "the chiefs descended from Esau."

The Edomites were nomads who lived in part of the region that is now Jordan, but there was a lack of extra-biblical historical evidence about these people. Archaeologists also believed that the Edomites as a unique nation had only begun to exist several centuries later than the Bible claimed, which directly contradicts the biblical accounts.

But now that could all change.

What happened now?

A group of archaeologists from Jordan, Israel, and the United States say they have found proof that the Edomites were more advanced than previously thought, and that they lived at least 300 years earlier than the prevailing belief.

On Wednesday, the teams, led by Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University and Thomas E. Levy, from the University of California San Diego, published a paper in PLOS One, a scientific journal, detailing their findings.

"Using technological evolution as a proxy for social processes, we were able to identify and characterize the emergence of the biblical kingdom of Edom," Ben-Yosuf said, according to the Times of Israel. "Our results prove it happened earlier than previously thought and in accordance with the biblical description."

According to the Israeli news outlet Haaretz, Ben-Yosef and Levy, along with their teams, had tested slag, the impurities released from metal (in this case, copper) during smelting. The researchers could tell from this slag that the Edomites where using the same metal smelting techniques that had been used by other people who lived far away from the site around 3,000 years ago. The researchers said that this proved there was a societal system in place that allowed the Edomites to communicate and trade ideas across distances.

"It supports the notion that indeed not only were there people in the region at that time period, but a strong kingdom. It was responsible for making this large scale industry in producing copper. You cannot exaggerate the importance of copper at the time," Ben-Yosef said.

Copper was crucial in the ancient world since, in addition to having many uses of its own, it could be mixed with tin to make bronze.

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