Is The Old Testament Historically Accurate?

There are plenty of kings and empires in the Bible — especially in the Old Testament — but the existence of these historical empires is often a source of debate for archaeologists, who sometimes struggle to find physical evidence of the biblical past.

The Timna Valley in Israel is one site that causes confusion, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Archaeologists previously found evidence of copper mines on the site and linked them to King Solomon. Later developments revealed ties to Egypt, but little evidence of the kind of kingdom Solomon was said to have led.

But recent papers suggest that empire still might have existed. According to the study "The Archaeological Bias in Current Biblical Archaeology," the reason we can't find evidence of those kingdoms might just be that the people were nomadic and lived in tents or less permanent structures, which obviously would not have survived long enough to be rediscovered today.

Verifying the Bible is a tricky process

The Timna Valley is at the center of the controversy over biblical accuracy. While the mines located there were assumed to be part of an Egyptian settlement, carbon dating shows they were most active after the Egyptians were gone, according to Smithsonian Magazine. That left room for cultures mentioned in the Old Testament, like the Edomites, to take over.

Previous archaeological papers suggest some of the stories of the Bible are inventions of the imagination rather than factual reports on historical events, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. Some studies have even revealed camels were not present in certain regions when the Bible claims they were (Gawker).

Some scholars are still working to verify how much of those stories are based in reality. The push to consider nomadic cultures and structures that weren't as permanent has brought new ways to seek verification for biblical tales, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Yet, there are many archaeologists who argue that even when accounting for at other signs besides buildings and structures, there isn't enough evidence to prove some of those great kingdoms existed (via the Smithsonian Magazine).