Like many peoples mentioned in the Bible but otherwise almost unknown, the Edomites are coming to life through the wonders of archaeology. Ironically, however, some of the most dramatic finds are being excavated in Israel rather than in the Edomite homeland east of the Arava, the valley that extends from the southern end of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat.
The origins of the Edomites, like those of the early Israelites, remain obscure archaeologically. They seem to have emerged as a people about the same time as the Israelites, in the period archaeologists call Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.E.).
Unlike the Israelites, however, the Edomites have left us no literature comparable to the Bible. Therefore we know them