Possible archaeological evidence of the Queen of Sheba’s visit with King Solomon discovered

The Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon
By Giovanni Demin (1789-1859), Wikipedia, Public Domain

One of the more interesting characters making an appearance in the Biblical narrative is the Queen of Sheba. She is believed to have been the ruling monarch of a country, that is today known as Yemen or more probably Ethiopia.

Having heard of King Solomon’s reputation, Sheba traveled to Jerusalem with a ‘great’ camel caravan to visit Israel’s monarch ‘to test Solomon with hard questions’ (1 Kings 10:1-13).

Sheba also brought with her camels carrying spices, gold and precious stones, (1 Kings 10:2), which she gifted to Solomon, who in turn offered her goods from his treasury.

Jesus also speaks of Sheba calling her the Queen of the South and suggests that during this visit she embraced Jehovah as her God (Matthew 24:12), a conversion also hinted at in the Biblical account (1 Kings 10:9).

According to the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology, archaeologists may have uncovered actual evidence of this ancient encounter or at the very least evidence of trade between Israel and North Africa.

The discovery, which topped the list of the institute’s major archaeological discoveries for 2023, involved the interpretation of the writing on a fragment of a clay jar discovered in Old Jerusalem in 2012.

Over the years, researchers have been unable to decipher the strange writing on the broken fragment of a storage jar.

While many in the past proposed it was an unknown form of Canaanite, that changed in early 2023, when Dr. Daniel Vainstub, an expert epigrapher, studied the unusual writing.

He concluded that it was actually a South Arabian script and using that as his reference, he successfully deciphered the word that had been engraved on the pot.

It reads “…]šy ladanum, 5 […”

This meant that the pot had contained ladanum, a spice that originated in the South Arabian Peninsula, the very area where the Queen of Sheba was said to be from. The number 5 also found written on the container probably indicated the quantity, literally five epaphs.

The fact, the pot was found in the Ophel, which is located only 50 yards (ca. 46 m) from the Temple Mount, is also not a coincidence. It is believed that ladanum was one of the spices used as incense in both the Tabernacle and Temple (Exodus 30:34).

Dried spirals of ladanum
Dried spirals of ladanum
Credit: Zinnmann, Wikipedia, CC BY 4.0

This combined with the shard being found in the 10 Century B.C.E layer, which falls within King Solomon’s reign, leaves the tantalizing possibility it was part of the vast quantities of spices that the Queen of Sheba brought with her to Israel.

Ladanum, which is a brown resin derived from shrubs found around the Mediterranean, is produced today primarily for the perfume industry. According to Wikipedia, Ladanum’s “odor is very rich, complex, and tenacious.”

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