Solomon became ruler c. 967 BCE of an empire that stretched from the River Euphrates to Egypt in the south. Solomon had great wealth and controlled the trade routes on all his borders, enabling him to tax all movement of goods. He welcomed the South Arabian Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem, who came on camels ‘bearing spices’. Whether this story is completely accurate, there was a buoyant spice trade in the region, with aromatic resins, incense and medicinal potions being exported from the Arabian peninsula. Land and sea routes branched out from Israel to Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Egypt, Africa and Sheba. The King’s Highway was of importance as it connected Africa to Mesopotamia and crossed Solomon’s Empire. Solomon received cargoes of gold, silver and sandalwood at Ophir on the Red Sea. Solomon also shared merchant ships with the Phoenicians, skilled navigators who sailed the Mediterranean and beyond and who were believed to have brought back commodities such as monkeys, apes, ivory, gold and silver.
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