Biblical Archaeology Review 12:4, July/August 1986

Solomon’s Negev Defense Line Contained Three Fewer Fortresses

By Rudolph Cohen

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.

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