What I like about Biblical archaeology is how it consistently confirms some of the smallest, seemingly irrelevant details, mentioned in Scripture.
In 1 Kings 10, we have a bit of an idea of King Solomon’s wealth gained through tribute paid by subdued nations and as well taxation of those doing business in his realm (1 Kings 10:14-15).
One of the displays of Solomon’s wealth is found in a description of the king’s great throne, which is described as being “covered with ivory and overlaid with fine gold” (1 Kings 10:18-20).
It also had a huge rounded back, and appeared to have a full-sized lion on either side of the throne. There were also six massive steps going down to the palace floor, with a lion on both ends of each step (12 in total).
But in the midst of this grandiose description, the first thing the writer noted is that Solomon’s throne was decorated with ivory, and it is mentioned before the gold and lions.
This is not surprising because ivory was considered more valuable than gold during this period of ancient history.
Ivory was a status symbol and an indicator of immense wealth and 200 years later, the Prophet Amos was condemning the nobles of Israel who were adorning their beds with Ivory (Amos 6:4).
Recently, archaeologists working with Israel Antiquities Authority and Tel Aviv University announced they have discovered ivory tiles from the First Temple period, Solomon’s temple in the old section of Jerusalem. They are dated to the 8th or 7th century BC.
This is the first time ivory has been discovered through archaeological digs in the city. The plaques or tiles had been broken into hundreds of pieces and were located in the ruins of an ancient palace.
The archaeologists were able to fuse the 1,500 pieces, with many showing signs of burning, into their original shapes and believed the ivory tiles would have been embedded in furnishings or wood panels decorating the palace.
The tiles were intricately carved with geometric designs, ornate trees or lotus flowers, and were probably carved in Assyria because similar designs have been found there. However, it appears the Israeli nobles were not interested in the mythical creatures the Assyrians often carved on the ivory plaques.
Because of their rarity, the ivory plaques made from elephant tusks, are considered among the most outstanding finds in Israel.
The archaeologists suspect that the tiles decorated a throne-styled sofa located on the second floor of the palace, which was ransacked and destroyed when King Nebuchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the temple in 586 BC.
READ: First Discovery of its Kind: Rare collection of ivories from 1st Temple Period found in City of David AND ‘Extraordinary Discovery’: Archaeologists Unearth Ivory Referenced in 1 Kings, Amos AND Rare First Temple period ivories discovered in Jerusalem