Inspired by Biblical accounts of the massive, gold- and copper-flecked splendor of his temples and palaces, countless treasure-seekers (and more than a few Hollywood adventure story peddlers) have set off in search of King Solomon’s mines, trekking through burning deserts and scaling the forbidding mountains of Africa and the Levant. Yet the actual evidence supporting the existence of Solomon and other early kingdoms in the Bible has been highly controversial. In fact, there is so little physical evidence of the kings who ruled Israel and Edom that many contend that they are no more real than King Arthur. The PBS-fronted edu-doc Quest for Solomon’s Mines attempts to sort out some of this mystery.
Produced and directed by Graham Townsley through National Geographic Television, the hour-long Quest for Solomon’s Mines offers up a couple new clues buried in the pockmarked desert of Jordan, as it tries to pin down the source(s) of the great material wealth that shaped regional political might in the Dead Sea Valley, and helped empower the first mighty Biblical kingdoms. As with tele-news magazine reporting, this program blends speculative historic reenactments with some talking head footage, in this case from University of California-San Diego Levantine Archaeology Lab hands Mohammad Najjar, Thomas Levy and others. The carbon dating of new-ish archaeological excavations at Khirbet en Nahas bring up some interesting facts, illuminating an era and making a convincing case that slave labor — and with it probably all the attendant human rights abuses and faulty criminal convictions, to ensure a large enough workforce — powered a regional rise much earlier than previously known. It’s an interesting title, even if its conclusions are ultimately rather glancing.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Quest for Solomon’s Mines comes to DVD presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, with an English language stereo audio track, divided into seven chapters. There are unfortunately no supplemental features of note. To purchase the DVD, phone (800) PLAY-PBS, or click here; if it’s Amazon that’s your thing, meanwhile, click here. C+ (Movie) C- (Disc)