A fascinating article was recently published in the London Times Newspaper, September 19, 2019, entitled, “Cornish tin found in Israel is hard evidence of earliest trade links.” Twenty-three large tin ingots were recovered from shipwrecks off the coast of Israel dating to the 12th and 13th centuries, B.C. The Times article states, “Analysis of the chemical composition of the 10-15kg ingots by researchers at the Curt Engelhorn Archaeometry Centre in Mannheim and other institutions indicates that the metal [came]…from tin deposits in Cornwall or Devon.” This provided proof, “the first hard evidence,” of extensive trade and mining between ancient Israel and Britain.
Bob Johnston, a specialist in British prehistory at Sheffield University, said: “This is a very exciting find. While we’ve speculated the southwest of Britain was an important source of tin at this period, due to the relatively few sources of the metal we didn’t have direct evidence of trade linking it to the eastern Mediterranean.”
This scientific proof that God’s Israel spread across the Mediterranean in early times has Biblical ramifications. For many years the idea of trade and colonization between ancient Israel and Britain has been denied, especially from the pulpits. Theologians have long promoted the idea that God’s chosen people were completely land bound with no interest in seafaring or missionary activity in other lands. Ingrained false traditions are a difficult task to correct. The American Journal of Archaeology, no. 84, 1980, complains of the same sort of difficulty, stating, “…classical archaeologists, weighed down by the Great Tradition with often ‘more enthusiasm for neatly ordered material than for new ideas,’ had too long stayed away from the important developments in ‘World Archaeology.’” Important evidence has long been ignored if it upsets the popular mindset. In fact, some scholars have been accused of having “strayed light-years away from whatever consensus the general run of Indo-European studies has managed to achieve.” (Colin Renfrew, “British Prehistory: A New Outline,” 1975, p. 14, n.8)
Yet despite being largely disregarded, evidence for trade and colonization between ancient Canaan and Britain has been quietly mounting for many years. Colin Renfrew, late professor of archaeology at the University of Southampton, England, revealed over forty years ago these significant early trade relations. He wrote of “the evidence afforded by the finds of certain small imported objects which serve as a direct link between prehistoric Britain and the Mediterranean world. These are beads and quoit-like pendants of faience, or Egyptian porcelain, found chiefly in the south of England, as well as in various parts of Scotland and Ireland.” (ibid. p.9) These items were dated to the middle of the 14th century, B.C., which would be within a few years after the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt.
Did this trade between ancient Canaan and the British Isles result in colonization? Daniel Berger, lead author of the research reported in The Times remarked, “That there could have been long-distance trade or exchange systems between the British Isles and the eastern Mediterranean is not a new idea…we have to assume that the amount of tin traded in the Late Bronze Age must have been enormous.” This was clearly not a small operation by a handful of people, but an immense industry produced by a large and growing population of immigrants who came to help produce the ore.
Bronze was a metal highly prized and in great demand in the ancient world and is an alloy of copper and tin. The Times article revealed that much of the tin used in the ancient Near East came from Spain and Britain. They state, “There is a rich historiography and folklore around ancient Cornish tin. The historian Diodorus Siculus of the 1st century BC wrote what is believed to be a description of tin-mining and trading in Cornwall based on an earlier account by the Greek explorer Pytheas of Massalia (Marseilles).”
This intercourse across the Mediterranean to Britain was in full force by the 13th century, B.C., or even earlier, and continued for centuries. The Times article states, “In one legend that inspired the poet and painter William Blake, Joseph of Arimathea, the Christian disciple, travelled to Cornwall for tin and may have brought the young Jesus with him.” So, trade and colonization between Canaan and Britain had continued for 1,300 years by the time of Christ.
Early Britain was sparsely populated, and many people were needed to work the mines as well as produce the requirements of the emergent civilization. Where did they all come from? It should not be surprising to learn that colonists from Israel and Phoenicia settled in early Britain to work the mines and serve the needs of the growing community. This has now been documented in DNA studies. In the book, “Archaeogenetics: DNA and the Population Prehistory of Europe” (University of Cambridge, 2000), we are informed, “The findings indicate that…ancient samples turned out to belong to haplogroup H, the most frequent in Europe and one that is also common in the Near East” (p.175).
The Archaeogenetics authors also reported, “The result of the studies reviewed…suggest that most European genes come from ancestors who did not live in Europe, but in the Levant…” (p.127) The Levant is the Near East, centered in ancient Israel’s homeland in Canaan. This Cambridge University study tells us, “According to the archaeological records, the European gene pool…[is] characterized by population movements from the Near East into much of Western and Northern Europe.” (p.131) The Bible tells us that Israel was to spread north and west from Canaan (Isa. 49:12), exactly as the DNA studies attest, and would colonize desolate places (Isa. 49:8; 54:3), which accurately describes the early British Isles.
In the Book of Genesis we learn that the ancestral homeland of the patriarchs was in Anatolia, in the region of the Biblical Padanaram (Gen. 28:1-5). The Cambridge University study reported, “In the case of Europe, it is natural to take the Near East (including Anatolia, the region of the fertile crescent and its vicinity and the Arabian peninsula) as a potential source for European DNA, since the archaeological record suggests that agriculture evolved in the Fertile Crescent (in particular in Syrio-Palestine) and spread from there (Henry 1989)” (p.145). An early population movement spread from Palestine and Anatolia north and west across Europe into the British Isles.
Bible students have long pondered the particulars of the Biblical covenant given to Abraham and his seed, such as the promise that his descendants would be “many nations” (Gen. 17:4-6; 48:19) and “a company of nations” (Gen. 35:11). They would be found in the seas (Deut. 33:19; Isa. 60:5). They would dwell in the isles and coastlands (Isa. 49:1-3). Such Divine guarantees have long been ignored from the pulpits as if they were unfulfilled or are of no importance. Dr. Bruce Vawter, in “A Path Through Genesis,” disagreed saying, “If God did not covenant with Israel, neither did the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob raise Jesus from the dead, for there is no fulfillment without a promise.” (1965, p.8)
How very important, then, are these recent scientific confirmations of the Biblical promises! Over a hundred such covenant promises are listed in appendix 1 of “The Story of Celto-Saxon Israel” by W.H. Bennett, available from CBIA at www.migrations.info.