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Title:Timna: Valley of the Biblical Copper Mines, Beno Rothenberg, 1969 AD
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Body:Timna: Valley of the Biblical Copper Mines Beno Rothenberg 1969 AD

(Timna, Beno Rothenberg, 1969 AD)

Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

The Middle White horizon in the carboniferous Nubian sandstone The mines

of the Timna Valley is a discontinuous sedimentary formation from Fig. 15

10-30 m. high, interrupted by red Nubian sandstone intrusions and the narrow and rugged side arms of the four main wadis of the Valley. Most of this horizon contains some copper ore nodules but the ancient miners must have noticed that some of the rocks contain more nodules than others and concentrated their efforts accordingly. This is why eight large centres of mining activities were found along the to km. long white sandstone formation, operating at the end of the Late Bronze Age and well into the Early Iron Age I, from the fourteenth to the twelfth centuries B C. As the Arabah Expedition's excavations proved, this was a Pharaonic Egyptian enterprise of the Ramesside Dynasties, working in conjunction with the local Midianite and Amalekite tribes.

The mining faces of this period show clear evidence of open cast Plate 16

mining and, sometimes, shallow digging following rich concen-trations of copper ore nodules. Many hard flint, granite and gabbro

hammer stones and anvils, mortars and pestles, as well as red, saddle- Plates 20, 21

backed, hard gritty sandstone grinders were found at the mining face. Some pottery was also collected there.

Numerous horizontal surfaces below the actual mines were found

covered with saucer-shaped hollows, [-5-z m. in diameter, called Plates t5, VI

`plates', and filled with white sand, near which are remains of crude stone structures or shelters. Many grinding tools were found around these plates. These are ore dressing areas for grinding the ore at the mine in order to remove superfluous gangue before smelting.

At all the Ramesside mining areas tubular cisterns were found, up Plate 17

to 17 m. deep and 70-90 cm. in diameter. These cisterns, carved with metal chisels into the sandstone wadi-bed or into the mining face were used for the storage of run-off rain water. Their mouths showed rope marks and footholds that had been cut into the wall to facilitate cleaning out the accumulated silt. A large quantity of water must have been stored in the zoo or so cisterns found in the Timna Valley.

bird's form and movement, and no more. The ostrich on the right is drawn front view, its legs as one strong line; the bird to its left is drawn in profile, with the body beautifully carved out in relief and the two legs given as two short lines with almost human feet. The third ostrich, drawn from rear view, has an unusually long neck; its wings are strongly drawn upwards and its two legs represented by two parallel strokes. The fourth bird is much smaller than the others and details of its body are not quite clear. The four ostriches are not drawn on the same plane but more as if a flock of dispersed birds was caught unawares by the artist. A date within the Chalcolithic period is suggested for these two groups of engravings.

All over this wall, next to the two large groups described above, numerous tribal marks (wasm) were carved by Beduin, apparently over a considerable period of time, but great care was taken by the latecomers not to harm the early engravings. Some of the Beduin engravings seem ancient, others fairly recent, but all show the same characteristic geometrical style. Several small human figures, with outspread hands and fingers, and a schematic 'tree-of-life' also appear on this wall. Many more small Beduin engravings are carved on the rocks outside the enclosed area, but none are found anywhere else in the vicinity. It appears that this extraordinary, isolated spot, with its Chalcolithic enclosure and engravings (which may be assumed to be a Chalcolithic cult centre or shrine), also aroused the curiosity and attention of the desert nomads who carried on the ancient tradition of rock engravings here, perhaps with a similar magic intent.

62 63

Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

One of the cisterns at Site 9 was found split by a fissure, apparently caused by an earthquake. It was empty of silt, 17 m. deep, and its mouth shows deep rope marks. Near the mouth a sign was carefully cut into the rock and behind the cistern was found a line of much eroded signs or letters, as yet undeciphered. Plate 18

The smelting sites

Ten camps of the Ramesside period, directly connected with copper smelting, were found in the Timna Valley, set up in a semi-circle west ofthe Timna massif. As only Site 2 was excavated it is impossible at present to establish detailed chronological data for these camps, apart from the fact that the pottery found on all of them indicates a Ramesside date as the general period for their operation. It would seem certain, however, that not all of the ten camps were in operation at the same time.

Camps 13, 15, 14, 3, 12 and 35 are groups of stone buildings, some consisting of one or two rooms only, others containing several rooms. The house walls stand today up to T •5 m. high; built of dry stone walling with rough field stones, they rarely show signs of primitive tooling.

Only very small quantities of slag were found in these camps, or on the slopes around, and it is obvious that no copper smelting took place here, but there could have been some casting activities. The

stone tools, pottery and installations found indicate that, besides Plates 23-25 being simple quarters for the smelters working in the neighbouring smelting camps, many of these stone houses must have served as workshops and storehouses. In fact, stores of ready smelting charge, charcoal and decayed foodstuffs were found inside some of the buildings.

Actual smelting took place at sites 30, 34, 185 and 2. Here, con-siderable quantities of copper smelting slag were found, usually thrown on to a heap next to the actual smelting-installations which, however, are today not visible except in the excavated camp 2.

Camp 3o, located in Nahal Nehushtan, at G.R. 14479093, next to Plates 19, II a solitary high mountain, is surrounded by a massive semi-circular stone wall, and is approximately 8o m. in diameter. This wall abutted against the sides of the mountain and even climbs up its sides for several metres. The wall is 1.5-2 m. high and 1'2 m. wide. On its north side, two collapsed towers guard the only entrance to the camp. A large heap of big slag pieces of semi-circular shape is piled up in the western half of the camp and here, undoubtedly, smelting took place. The eastern half of the camp shows several






ve.- CLIFF








22 8- -

' ....C'. TIMNA

P.14 ce-

_ . EDOM -



CF )

/-* c.







15 Ramesside and Late Bronze Age—Early Iron Age sites in the Arabah and adjoining Negev mountains

Timna Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

Plate 19

destroyed workshops. Very many saddle-backed red sandstone querns and granite and flint hammerstones were collected and also a quantity of charcoal. A low stone dam built across a small side arm of Nahal Nehushtan diverted the run-off floodwater into a rock-bound cistern, cut into the hillside about 4o m. west of the smelting camp. Two rock-carved troughs, next to the cistern, must have been used for watering the pack animals.

In 1969 a small trial hole was excavated next to the large slag heap. No structure was found but several very large clay protectors for bellows-ends came to light, the like of which we had not found any-where else in Timna. Similar tuyêre-ends were found by the Sinai expedition in 1969 at the large copper-smelting camp near Bir Nasib and identified as early New Kingdom smelting remains. It therefore seems likely that camp 3o belongs to the earliest phase of copper-smelting in Timna, although future excavation will have to verify this assumption. The fact that camp 3o is defended by a strong circumvallation may point to the same conclusion, i.e. at the very beginning of Egyptian exploitation of Timna's copper ore the local tribes were apparently unfriendly and proper defence measures had to be taken. As at Serabit el-Khadem in Sinai the local tribes, first considered as the enemy, later on became partners or employees and defence walls were no longer necessary.

Similar considerations must be applied to camp 34 (G.R. 14509090, located on top of a flat mountain, about 200 m. south-east of camp 30. Here too, a defence wall of rough fieldstones was piled up along the edge of the plateau, wherever the slope could easily be ascended. A tower-defended gate can be found on the north-west side of the hill. The central part of the flat hill top is covered almost completely with broken slag, presumably broken and dispersed by later people who did not themselves smelt copper but only came to extract residual copper pellets from the old slag heaps. At this stage of the investigations sites 3o and 34 are assumed to belong to the initial phase of the Egyptian copper works at Timna, although these major smelting camps could have been in operation also during the subsequent phases. The pottery found on the surface of sites 3o and 34 does not, however, seem to differ essentially from the pottery found at the other Timna sites. We shall return below to the problem of the Timna pottery and its chronology (pp. 152-163), but at this point it is sufficient to note the variance.

The two unwalled smelting camps in the Timna Valley, sites 2 and 185, certainly belong to the later and last phase of Egyptian copper smelting in Timna, but might have been operating earlier.

Camp 185 is a long line of small ruined structures, standing along a narrow side arm of Nahal Nehushtan (at G.R. 14599090), which runs down from the southern slopes of Har Timna. Most of the buildings consist of one or two rooms and a lot of pottery was found all over the site as well as grinding stones, hammers and anvils. The metal-lurgical activities were restricted to the south end of the camp. Here a quantity of slag indicates copper smelting as well as casting. Camp 185 was not a major smelting-plant but served mainly as a working and habitation site. The pottery found here places the site well within the Ramesside period.

Explorations and soundings 1959-63

Site 2 was first discovered in 1959. Unlike most of the other sites in Plate 27

Timna, it had not been previously located and ransacked by archaeologists and visitors and a large number of working tools, pottery and even some copper implements were found on the surface at the time of the Expedition's first visits to the site. Several big slag-heaps and a lot of slag dispersed all over the very large camp area made it clear that this was one of the major copper producing sites in the Timna Valley. For that reason and because the surface finds, including the pottery, seem adequately to represent all other sites of the same period in the Timna Valley, the main efforts during the following years were concentrated on Site 2; first by minute surface explorations and small soundings, followed by analytical research in the laboratory, and later by systematic excavations.

Site 2 is located in a southern, small side arm of Nahal Timna, at Fig. 16

G.R. 144,89107. Coming from the main Timna road, which runs along the northern side of Har Timna, one drives up a low ridge

----betwten two dark mountains and faces, rather unexpectedly, a large, beautiful stone 'mushroom' and behind it a small, sandy valley. The mushroom, about 6 m. high, is the erosional product of the strong north winds, prevalent in this area. The valley is formed by three flat slopes, ending in a narrow, red, sandy wadi bed. On both sides of this small wadi, slag heaps indicate the site of smelting. Further concentrations of slag, charcoal and burnt ground, indicating metallurgical activities, can be found at the extreme east side of the valley, where the slope gradually rises towards the mountains. All three slopes, measuring approximately 15o X 18o m., are covered by piles of medium-sized rough stones with many, although completely destroyed, structures still discernable. Some of the rough building stones seem to have been in secondary use for the erection of simple, mostly circular, enclosures. In fact, at the time of the first survey it




Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

Plates 23-25

Plate 69; Fig. 29, 1,8


17 Bun-shaped copper ingot found in the Arabah (wt. 42.2 gin.)



was not suspected that beneath the ruined primitive structures, there existed large, well-built workshops, stores, and numerous metallurgical installations, in an excellent state of preservation. The structures today visible on the surface are either a late phase of the use of the smelting camp or simply the collapsed tops of previously free standing walls, their lower courses still partly preserved under-ground.

Two structures in areas A and F, which are an exception to this, were found standing isolated from the actual smelting site; they will be dealt with below, in Chapter IV.

Numerous stone tools - round, square and oblong flint, granite and sandstone hammer-stones, many large mortars and especially

16 Site 2: Location map showing areas excavated in 1964, 1966, and large slag heaps

I itt)






ir-RIF Arroniff




...-i m










the typical saddle-backed red standstone querns - were found in and around the structures and in the debris. Surface copper finds were, of course, rare but, nevertheless, a complete knife, a spear-butt and many lumps of raw copper were found, besides a quantity of copper pellets which had been extracted from the slag by breaking some of it into smaller pieces.

Slag and charred ground on the slope west of the small wadi bed, somewhat outside the main camp site, was proof of metallurgical activities. However, the main location of copper smelting at Site 2 was across the wadi, also along the edge of the slope. Here, three large slag heaps, mixed with clay furnace lining, charcoal, stray ore pieces and clay tuyere ends were obvious signs of copper smelting and, already in 1962, remains of several furnaces were found next to the slag heaps. Small soundings were made in 1963 in areas E and G which helped in the preliminary reconstruction of the smelting process, later fully confirmed and augmented by systematic excava-tions.

Even at that stage of the investigations it became absolutely clear that copper ore was reduced here to metallic copper in small, earth-bound and partly stone-built, bowl furnaces. The finding in one of the houses of a store of ready smelting charge, in the form of a dark powder, and of the contents of a furnace that seemed to have gone out, showing the actual smelting process - slag on top, and under-neath it partly reduced ore and burned and unburned charcoal, mixed with a large number of metallic copper pellets, evidently stopped on their way to the furnace bottom - helped a great deal towards the understanding of the method of copper smelting used in Timna.

A great deal of time was spent on metallurgical research as the generally accepted theories about mining and smelting activities in the Arabah suggested some kind of preliminary roasting of the ore at Timna and the actual smelting/refining was said to have taken place only at Tell el Kheleife, on the shores of the Red Sea. The facts discovered by the survey did not substantiate these theories. First, and most important of all, solid metallic copper was made in the small smelting furnaces of Timna. The ore was crushed by means of the numerous stone-crushing and grinding tools of all sizes (found on the surface), mixed with fluxes, also found at the site, and was then reduced to metallic copper on a charcoal pile inside small bowl furnaces. A bun-shaped copper ingot of about 7 kg., an earlier find inthe Arabah, fitted well into this picture of the smelting method and represents the end product of the Arabah smelters.






Plate 31

Plates 42, 43

Plates 44, 4S

Plates 48-54

This first reconstruction of the Timna smelting process still did not explain all the facts found at Site 2 but it could, nevertheless, be accepted as a preliminary working hypothesis. Much of the slag in the big heaps consisted of large, circular, lumps of slag weighing up to 4o kg., and most had holes in the centre. All of these slag circles seem to have been broken into several parts at the time they were thrown onto the slag heap. Several of them could be completely reconstructed. A number of questions immediately arose: where and how were these circular lumps of slag formed, inside or outside the furnace, and why was there a hole in their centre? Furthermore, besides the large, heavy and dark coloured slag, many smaller pieces of porous appearance and of light brown-grey colour were found at Site 2. There was no archaeological or metallurgical explanation for the appearance of these two different kinds of slag and it became obvious that these questions could only be answered by systematic excavations of actual smelting installations.

The pottery from Site 2, right from the beginning of the survey, created a complex problem and, although the excavations at the site in 1964-66 produced a lot of stratified material, the absolute dating of the Timna pottery remained for years the subject of protracted arguments and deliberations, to be finally resolved only in 1969 by the excavation of the Timna Temple, Site zoo, and the consequent dating of the pottery by the inscriptions found.

All over Site 2, as at most sites in the Timna Valley, sherds of three distinct kinds were collected:

I 'Normal' ordinary wheel-made pottery, plain but well-fired, consisting mainly of many-handled storage jars, carinated bowls, jugs and juglets.

2 Coarse, hand-made, deep as well as shallow bowls used for cooking and domestic purposes, akin to that previously found in the Central Negev Mountains, and named 'Negev-type ware'. Many of the flat bottoms of these bowls show mat-impressions.

3 Unique, pink-buff ware, decorated with bichrome geometrical designs (red-brown and black), made of well-levigated, evenly fired clay. Most of these sherds found at Site 2 belonged to large deep and shallow little bowls, with flat bottoms and straight sides, and having an occasional knob-handle projecting from the rim. There were also fragments of deep cups, decorated with bichrome `Union-Jacks' and similar geometrical decorations, and shallow bowls with a floral design in the centre. No pottery of this kind has ever been found in Palestine but it has been picked up on the

Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

surface of sites in Jordan, and had been named 'Edomite pottery'. Since there is evidence for a Midianite origin of this ware, it should now be called 'Midianite' pottery.

The Negev ware and the Midianite pottery, for which no stratified comparisons existed at the time, could not help in dating Site 2. The 'normal' pottery could be compared with the Late Bronze Age -Early Iron Age I pottery of Palestine, but not enough identifiable pottery was found on the surface, especially none of the distinctive cooking pots of these periods, to help towards a definitive date for Site 2. Furthermore, as all sherds were surface finds, there was no way of telling whether the three kinds of pottery represented three different periods of copper workings at Timna or three different ethnic factors, operating at one and the same time. There existed, of course, other possibilities, but it became evident that only systematic excavation could solve both the chronological and the metallurgical problems.

Excavations at Site 2 1964-66

Altogether ten separate areas were excavated, chosen as those likely

to answer the questions which had arisen out of the survey of the Fig. 16 Timna smelting sites, the discovery of several apparently contem-porary sites in the Arabah, and the previous detailed exploration and soundings at Site 2 itself. A number of additional soundings were also undertaken to establish the nature of several tumuli in the immediate vicinity of Site 2. These turned out to be burials, already plundered in ancient times.

The immediate objectives of the excavations were: (1) To locate and excavate metallurgical installations and materials, to enable the ancient processes to be reconstructed. (2) To find workshops, stores and other structures likely to help form a picture of the organization of a large scale copper producing plant of the late second millennium BC. (3) The establishment of a reliable stratigraphy for Site 2 in order to solve the chronological problems of the relevant Timna and Arabah sites. (4) To secure sufficient stratified pottery, and other artifacts of cultural significance, for a reconstruction of the cultural and, if possible, social background of the Timna smelters and the people concerned.

Accordingly, the areas chosen for excavation fell into several characteristic groups: C, E, and G, in the immediate vicinity of large slag heaps; I31, I and K with metallurgical activities other than smelting ; D-K and B2, likely sites of workshops; M was thought to


18 Site z, Area C: Copper smelting furnaces




• sib



• aa'




be a casting installation (but was, in fact, a highly interesting burial), and A and F, two isolated spots near the smelting camp, were chosen for reasons explained in the next chapter.

Smelting furnaces, Area C

Fig. 18 The remains uncovered at Area C are typical for the copper smelting installations of the Ramesside period in Timna and will therefore be described in some detail. The area excavated covers io x 6 m., including part of a slag heap, consisting of a 5o cm. thick, solid mass of dark, heavy, semi-circular slag. Small, porous, brown-









• 1111111'




Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

grey slag pieces were also found in this heap and all over Area C. The slag heap is partly piled up on the slope, partly continuing also into the wadi bed. About t m. from the thinning out east edge of the slag heap, various ruined metallurgical installations came to light. In fact, two copper smelting furnaces, III and IV, were found,' of which Furnace III was in fragmentary condition but IV was in an excellent state of preservation. Apparently parts of Furnace III were removed for further use at a nearby new furnace construction, perhaps for Furnace IV. Like all smelting installations found in Timna from the second millennium onwards, Furnace IV was located on sloping ground. A hollow, measuring approximately i x 2 m., was dug into the red sand layers partly penetrating into the red sandstone below. On the higher side of the slope, the depth of the hollow is about 5o cm., whilst at the other end it rises gradually to ground level. The actual smelting bowl, 40 cm. deep and 45 cm. in diameter, was located at the deep end of the hollow. No stones were used to strengthen its walls, it was simply a hole in the ground with a thick layer of clay mortar as its wall and bottom. A thick layer of slag was found adhering to the furnace walls, extending from the upper rim down to about 5 cm. above the furnace bottom. Here the slag lining was missing and seemed to have been intentionally removed, probably whilst clearing out the furnace at the conclusion of the smelting process. No slag was adhering to the well-preserved, hard-burnt, grey furnace bottom; the front of the furnace, facing west, was also missing. Two flanking stones, about 8o cm. long, formed a compartment in front of the opening which protected a shallow pit, 70 x too cm., dug to a level of about 15 cm. below the furnace bottom. The bottom of this pit, like the furnace bottom, was burnt light grey, and must have been the consequence of very high temperatures.

When the first smelting furnace was excavated, the excavators did not recognize this pit in front of the furnace. All that was seen was a smelting bowl with heavily slagged walls. In trying to under-stand the method of smelting in this furnace it was impossible to fit the large circular slag plates with a hole in their centre into the picture. Most of the slag circles were greater in diameter than the smelting bowl and no technologically sound explanation was apparent for the central hole. Careful study of the slag itself revealed sand and small stones sticking to the underside which could not have come from a clay-lined furnace bottom, and the rim of the slag was `as-case over most of its surface. Invariably a small fraction of the slag rim was found to be broken off and eventually one slag cake

Fig. /9 Plates 35, VII

72 73

Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

I Metre

Thin charcoal layer Slag Tuyere

uneemaxmona...nousINNVIWW --ryMMIMMMAAIIAMMitmoiwimiMMiMMS19WHNIM

ma .1M BEIC1-711.


-Z -

• •

Bottom of tapping pit Hard, burned sand Furnace bottom Mortar lining

Charcoal (mainly) Yellow sand,charcoal and slag

Charred sawd,grey white Red grey

Yellowish sand Grey

lied sand Slag

19 Plan and section of copper smelting Furnace IV

was found with a 25 cm. long 'runner' of slag attached to it. It there-fore became evident that the slag had solidified outside the furnace, i.e., it must have been tapped into a slag pit. The shallow pit between the flanking stones was obviously a tapping pit. The difference in height between the higher furnace bottom and the lower tapping pit guaranteed the fast flow of the hot, liquid slag ; a tapping.hole drilled into the side of the furnace, approximately to cm. above the actual furnace bottom, made sure that the metallic copper did not escape together with the slag.

In the furnaces of Site 2 there was no archaeological evidence for an intentional 'cast-in' of the centre hole in the slag and it must be assumed that it became obliterated or was not recognized by the excavators. Clear evidence, however, for such a device was found in the Roman smelting furnaces, excavated in 1969 near Beer Ora. As will be shown in Chapter VII below, the Roman furnaces are based on a similar principle to that of the furnaces of the Ramesside period in Timna and can, therefore, serve as a reliable technological comparison. It seems certain that the centre hole was cast-in to permit fast removal of the slag from the tapping pit by means of a hook.

Inside the upper half of the furnace wall, opposite the tapping hole, fragments of a clay tube were found, which must have served as a tuyere for the bellows. The aperture was about 10 cm. in dia-meter and almost all the clay protectors of the bellows end, found in great numbers around the furnaces of Site 2, fitted it quite well. As there was only one tuyere in the back wall of the furnace and none at the sides, there could not have been more than two bellows to a furnace. In fact, the two types of clay protectors found indicate the use ofone bellows at the back, with the tuyere at an angle of about 70° to the horizontal, directed towards the centre of the smelting bowl. In this case the clay end of the bellows tube would be pierced by a straight running hole. A second bellows seems to have been operated through the front wall, above the tapping hole. Here, a tuyere went horizontally through the furnace wall and the clay protector was pierced by a hole bent at its end to direct the airflow, as required by the smelting process, to the lower half of the furnace. This second tuyere was not actually found in any of the excavated furnaces, but the reconstruction, based on the evidence of the numerous tuyere ends present with purposefully bent air holes, seems technologically sound.

Around the upper rim of the furnace, which must have projected above ground, several large, flat stones formed a working platform. All the stones used for Furnace IV, as most of those used for furnaces


, / iotietti-09-741


Fig. 20 Plates 32-34



Timna Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna


Plates 36, 37; Fig. 21





10 cm o


20 Reconstructions of details of tuyeres and the two types of clay protectors for the bellows ends

in Timna, were of dolomite, which is the most fire resistant stone in the area. Stratigraphical evidence showed that Furnace IV was dug through two earlier working surfaces, indicated by a change of colour and material, with some metallurgical waste and a thin charcoal layer.

Area C showed everywhere three working-floors, one on top of the other, and evidence of intensive smelting activities in the form of several destroyed and dismantled furnaces. The three working furnaces made up one industrial occupation layer of about 60 cm., above undisturbed red sand and water-laid pebbles. In between the working seasons, most likely interrupted by the hot summer months, the surfaces collected a thin layer of wind-borne, yellowish drift sand. This is evidence for seasonal activities at the site, yet the pottery on all the working-floors of Area C belongs to the three kinds described above, found everywhere mixed together. There is no difference whatsoever between the sherds from the different working floors.

Area G, located next to a large slag heap, was first excavated as a square of 4 x 4 m. in 1964 and a smelting furnace, Furnace II, un-earthed. This furnace is, in principle, the same as Furnace IV except that it is much stronger built. Instead of just a hole in the ground, a semi-circular stone wall of maritime cambrian dolomite was meticulously built into the deep end of the furnace hollow, with itsopen side above the tapping pit, protected by two long flanking stones. As in Furnace IV, the wall and bottom were lined with a thick layer of clay mortar and a clay tuyêre was found going through its back wall. Around the furnace was a solid working-platform of large, flat stones.

In 1966 Area G was enlarged to 7 x 7 m. and excavated to bedrock. Five superimposed metallurgical working-floors were carefully peeled off, and metallurgical materials and waste of each floor taken





21 Site 2, Area C: Copper smelting Furnace II (within the shaded area) in the last phase of activities

76 77


zz Site 2, Area Bt, St. I: Plan and section of furnace for crucible inciting of copper showing the method of furnace construction

for separate analysis. Furnace II belongs to the last phase of metal-lurigical activities at Site 2, with its working-platform actually protruding above the present ground level. The lowest working floor rested on bedrock and consisted of the remains of completely dismantled smelting furnaces, including two furnace bottoms in situ and numerous small slag pieces. Several small, mostly bell-shaped, pits 20-40 cm. deep were found in Area G, dug into every working-floor. In the lowest floor thirty-six pits were counted, many cut directly through into the bedrock, others were dug down from one of the working-floors above, penetrating through one or several floors. The pits, used for storage, were common to all areas of Site 2 and seem to be characteristic of metallurgical sites of this period. Inside the carefully cleared thirty-six pits, a variety of materials was found. It was mainly metallurgical waste, charcoal, slag and burnt sand, which had gradually filled the empty pits. A number of the pits, however, were found to contain some of their original contents, and were highly informative : there were date kernels, many broken bones of fully grown goats, some cattle bones and some bones and teeth of donkeys. A large quantity of ostrich eggshells was also collected. There were also many beads, lumps of copper ore, fluxes and some of the pits next to the furnace opening contained a solid mass of charcoal and donkey dung, apparently for the smelting fire. On each working-floor as well as in many of the pits, found sealed by a floor above, all three kinds of pottery were present.

In Area E an additional smelting furnace, Furnace I, was found next to a large slag heap. This furnace was visible above ground prior to excavation, simply hidden underneath some debris and was, in fact, the first furnace found by the Arabah Expedition in 1962. It was also stone-built, having two large flanking stones along its tapping pit, and several pits were found around the furnace, some full of charcoal. The working-floor of Furnace I was at such a high level, on the higher slope of the valley, that only several centimetres of recent wind-borne sand had to be brushed away to show the outline of the storage pits. The pottery found on the surface and inside some of the pits was the same as everywhere else on Site 2.

Crucible melting furnaces

In Area Bi, square E6, on the east side of Site 2, a large area of the present surface showed a distinct 'dark discolouration, with much small, porous slag and charcoal bits mixed with red sand, overlaying a thin layer of yellow wind-borne driftsand. A trial trench dug across this dark area, which altogether measured about to x 7.5 m., revealed


Dug out pit

Flat stone slabs. 60 cm long

I in

Protruding above floor of construction



Partly protruding above surface

Level of construction

Intermediate layer of stones

Build into dug-out pit



Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

TIMNA 2 1964








300 3.50 400m



b1.1 1 . ' 1 .-

P '''f"%- •••11 . a OMNI

, , .:....- ''' 7 • •

------ 4

I.- 8 9 .,_.--10

Red rock

Loose sand fill


Alternative layers of red 8 grey sand mixed with charcoal (3-5 cm)

2.3 Site 2, Area Bt, St. a: Section of crucible furnace front lasting workshop

.111.73 •

• -arirlo.,

Floor 1 ..

Floor I =


Floor I o— Level of construction —41.

Hard crust

Not excavated


West of section

L and of excavation

Sectioned structure


I Slag in yellow-red windblown sand, small stones

2 Yellow sand with small, stones, few slag pieces

3 Charcoal and charcoal dust

4 Yellow sand, with clear hard crust, pebbles on top S Red sand with pebbles

6 Charcoal, coal-dust, charred and uncharred wood

7 Red sand burned to near orange. very hard

8 Charcoal and charcoal dust

9 Hard red sand

1.50 10 Red rock

Plate 38 Fig. 22

24 Melting crucible found at Site 2 (Plate 41) an oval-shaped, solid central core of charcoal, about 3.5 x 2.5 m. and 3o cm. thick, with charcoal and charcoal dust spreading out over the surrounding ground. As the charcoal also contained a considerable quantity of unburnt wood, mainly branches of acacia trees which still grow in the Arabah, we consider this to be a 'charcoal pile', used to manufacture charcoal for the furnaces of Site 2.

Immediately to the south of the charcoal pile, a square stone compartment, St. I, measuring 4o x 40 cm. with a depth of 8o cm., was excavated. It was in fact a square pit, lined by flat stone slabs and its top was covered with several large stones, leaving a narrow opening at its south side. The installation was found filled with charcoal ash, pieces of charcoal and small bits of slag - it was a hearth used for the crucible melting of copper. Pieces of metallic copper, probably drops and prills of copper, extracted from smelting slag, were melted in small crucibles inside this hearth and cast into moulds.

In Area I another installation, built of flat stones, was found to contain a quantity of black ash and burnt material. Also, a complete, small clay-protector of a bellows and a copper needle with its eye still intact were found nearby. Area I was thus also the site of melting and casting with a crucible-melting hearth operating next to it. A further casting site with several crucible-melting furnaces was found in Area K.

Area D-K is located at the northern end of Site 2 and the building complex unearthed in this area must have been connected with the furnaces and the slag heap of Area C and perhaps also with Furnace II.

During the first season of excavations, in 1964, a two-roomed building was found, measuring 4 x 8 m., and was thought to be a storehouse. In the second season, in 1966, the area of excavation was considerably extended and reached over 40o sq. m. This complete area was taken up by the large building complex of a complete working and storage unit (D-K).

The centre of this structure is a courtyard, 8 x 11 m., with a very large, stone-lined storage pit for ores (Locus 1013). The stone lining, of very heavy large stone slabs, had slipped into the pit and it was therefore only excavated to a depth of approximately a metre, COMPLETE




Fig. 25



though the pit doubtlessly must have been much deeper. Next to it a unique stone platform (Locus 1007-1008) was found with many crushing and grinding tools and crushed copper ore bits in situ. It appears that the courtyard was the centre for the preparation of the smelting charge for the smelting installations nearby. Many ore-grinding tools were found in situ standing in all corners of the courtyard.

Donkey dung was found in a heap just north of the ore pit and a line of droppings ran across the courtyard towards the entrance at the north-west corner, near Locus 1034. These must have been the droppings of the pack-animals which brought the ore from the copper mines.

Solid buildings, mainly of limestone, were joined to the outside walls of each side of the courtyard. The walls were dry built and the method of construction, especially at the corners, was very reminis-cent of the head-and-stretcher building method of the Early Iron Age.

On the west side in Area D two rooms (RM1, RM2) were each found to have an underground water container, and RM2 also had a line of storage pits along its northern wall. The pits contained a store of stone implements and ores as well as some light yellowish clay which was used, apparently, for the preparation of tuyeres, clay protectors for bellows, furnace and cistern linings and perhaps also pottery. The water containers are solid circular structures of stone, built into pits dug into the red sand and sandstone and made water-tight by a clay mortar. The upper rim of Cistern 42 was 100 cm. in diameter for a depth of 5o cm., then it suddenly widened out to P70 m. with a depth of 1.33 m. Cistern 45 was a simple stone and mortar lined pit, 1.25 m. deep and 1.10 m. in diameter.

The two cisterns in RM1 and RM2 were found filled with debris and metallurgical waste and there were many interesting finds, including pottery. Both cisterns belonged to the very first stage of activity in this area and seem to have fallen out of use before being left to fill up. Perhaps the filling-in of these disused water holes was done on purpose, as some large stones were also found with the debris. Yet, at this later stage the 'cisterns' may also have served for the storage of ore. It is clear that water was carried to them in containers for cool storage and that they were not filled by run-off rain water.

On the east side a two-roomed structure, 6.5 x 5 m., was un-covered (Loci 1020, 1021). Although it was used as a workshop, it could also have served as living quarters. A small cooking stove


Plate 29

Plate 28

26 Close to Site a was found a carefully built corbel-vaulted tomb (Figs. 27, 28). It had contained the remains of two individuals of Afro-Egyptian origin. Only one skull was present and this had been deliberately laid on a stone head-rest

27 Aerial view of smelting Site 2, now called the `Mushroom Camp' from the curious natural formation nearby. In the background is the Wadi Arabah and on the hill to the left of the `mushroom' is Area F, the site of a High Place

28, 29 The industrial Arca I)-K. Above, a stone-built cistern in one of the rooms of the workshop. —> Below, a view of the centre courtyard with a stone platform where ore was crushed. Behind it is a storage pit for the ore. Round about are storage rooms and a casting workshop in the background

F 30 Area Bt, a workshop with a semi-circular crushing platform

4- 31 Fragments of circular tapping slag

32-34 Three views of a clay protector for a bellows end (Fig. 2o). Left, the interior side, which is fitted into the bellows tube, is free of slag; centre, the side view shows the slag dripping down and solidifying, and, right, the external side, facing into the furnace, shows the slag build-up

35 Smelting Furnace IV (Fig. 19), showing the smelting bowl with its slagged walls and, before it, the tapping pit between two flanking stones

E- 36, 37 The stone-built Furnace II has a slag pit in front of it. The detail, below, of its mortar-lined smelting bowl shows the remains of a tuyere in the back wall

38-41 Casting furnaces and crucibles in Site 2. Right, crucible furnace St. t (Figs. 22, 23). Below left, crucible melting furnace X in Area D-K (cf. Fig. 25); right, a lump of crude copper retaining the shape of the crucible in which it was melted, similar to the example shown (Fig. 24)

48-52 Midianite pottery from Smelting Camp 2 (Cf. Fig. 32). It was brought to the site from northern Arabia. Most of the pottery is decorated with sophisticated bichrome designs

53. 54 A Midianite jug and bowl decorated in bichrome style. The jug (Fig. 35, I) was found at Site 98, a funerary shrine on top of 'King Solomon's Pillars', and the bowl comes from Smelting Camp 2 (Fig. 32, 2)

55-58 Rock-engraving 2 in the Ramesside copper mines (Fig. 38). The details (opposite) show Egyptian soldiers in ox-drawn chariots brandishing New Kingdom-style battle axes, and straight-horned oryx and their Midianite hunters. Left, white sandstone votive basins found beneath the rock-engravings, similar to those found in the Hathor Temple

Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

(Locus 1017), built of stone slabs, was found outside this structure. More rooms seem to have been attached also at the south end of D-K but this area was not fully excavated.

The north end of D-K was a casting workshop, with well-built crucible-melting furnaces (Furnace X, Locus lot t) standing inside the actual courtyard. The building attached here to the outside of the northern courtyard wall showed several phases of construction and repairs, and altogether five working floors could be distinguished. On each of these floors remains of casting furnaces were found, often only as burnt hard furnace bottoms still in situ, and also very much wood ash, charcoal dust, charcoal pieces, copper pellets and prills, slag and slagged cnicible fragments: An additional 'cistern' (St. 31) was found here, 1.87 m. deep.

With storage of raw materials, ore dressing and the preparation of the smelting charge in workshop D-K, the actual smelting of the copper took place in the smelting furnaces nearby. As some of the product remained in the slag as small drops and prills of metallic copper, it was worth while to collect some by breaking up the slag. The copper bits thus extracted seem to have been smelted and cast into simple implements, ingots or even votive gifts for the nearby Hathor Temple. Areas D-K and C represent, therefore, the full cycle of copper production of Ramesside Timna.

Area B2-3, together with the crucible-melting furnace of Area Bt, described above, was another industrial unit. Here, an approxi-mately 5 X 4 m. structure was uncovered with a deep, stone-lined ore pit and a solid, semi-circular crushing platform. The ore pit was excavated to a depth of 1-1 5 rn. Stone crushing tools and a lot of finely crushed copper ore was found in situ on the working platform. A small domestic fireplace with many crushed bones of goats was found in the vacant corner of the workshop, which also seems to have served for habitation.

The walls of workshop B2-3 were very solid and the ground care-fully levelled by cutting a step into it on the east side of the structure, which is here located higher up the slope. To make sure that the soft sand, laid bare by this cut into the slope, would not collapse into the workroom, an ingenious method of stone casing was devised with the stones standing on their side inside the freshly cut step, thus serving at the same time as foundations for the wall above. The lowest stone layer of the wall itself was partly resting on this line of casing stones and partly on the slope behind.

The construction method of levelling sloping ground by cutting steps at the right spot and encasing them with flat stones, has been


63, 64 Jezirat Fara'un (or 'Pharaoh's Island') appears to have been the mining port connected with the Ramesside mining expeditions to the Arabah ('Atika'). It was later used by the Israelite Kings (as Ezion Gebel.), then by Nabatacans, Romans and Mamehikes

Plate 39

Plates 4o, 41

Fig. 26

Plate 3o


Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna


found also in K (wall zo) and seems to have been standard practice in this period. Complementary to this, on the lower side of the slope, which would drop even below the level attained by the step-cutting opposite, a flat and straight working floor was created by filling in

Fig. 25 the missing ground up to the required level. Wall 2 of D, situated at the very end of a slope but somewhat above the wadi bed, was investigated by trial-hole 8, dug against it from inside. It was quite evident that the wall here was solidly built to its maximum depth, actually right into the wadi bed and down to bedrock, and the space between wall and slope was filled in with a packed mass ofsand.

Another characteristic of the Ramesside construction method in Timna is the frequent use of small, bell-shaped, storage pits, with or without stone lining, found everywhere in the floors of the buildings and courtyards of Site 2.


26 Site 2, Area 132-3, Ramesside ore-crushing installation. The upper, round structure belongs to the last phase of activity at the site, apparently by the local Midianites

On the present surface of Area M a group of medium sized stones was found forming a circle; others, mainly flat stones, were strangely sticking out of the ground as if especially to mark this spot. Nothing besides the small porous slag, charcoal and charred sand, was visible above ground. Yet, as this area was close to the workshops and furnaces of Area B and slag and crucible fragments were found on the surface, it was assumed that Area M was the site of melting casting installations. An explanation for the large quantities of porous, small and light slag, concentrated in this area of camp 2 was hoped for.

Stripping off the present surface layer, it immediately became obvious that the strange standing stones are not actually connected with the circular structure being uncovered, but served as 'markers' of some sort. Digging down further it became evident that here was some kind of fill because all was massive metallurgical waste thrown together without any order, mixed with sand. In the middle of this fill a structure of heavy stones came to light, closed on top by layers of flat stones to form a carefully built corbelled vault.

Clearing down everything around the structure, red sandstone rock was reached after the removal of a large quantity of metallur-gical waste. A shallow pit, about 4-5 m. in diameter had been dug. into the red sand and a stone structure, 2'30 X 2'0 m. and about 1-0 m. high, was erected therein. Clearing out the inside a skeleton was found at its bottom, its head on a flat stone intentionally placed as a head-rest. The skeleton lay contracted on its left side, one arm under the thigh-bone and the other under the skull. The tomb contained no other objects. At the time of the excavation, it seemed that one body only had been placed in the burial chamber without any covering ; the firm sand found above it was drift sand that had in-filtrated through the roof. However, examination of the bones by Dr N. Haas of Tel Aviv University showed that, in fact, 'there were skeletal remains of two individuals. The first one, almost complete, is an adult male, 25-30 years old, with peculiar proto-negroid features. The second one, found without calvarium, was an adult of 18-22 years. No racial diagnosis of these remains was possible.' According to DtHaas, the Timna skull, with its peculiar anthropo-logical typological features, could not in any way belong to a population originating from the Syria-Palestine area, but an African origin is strongly indicated. It is similar to the proto-boscopoid type found in ancient Ethiopia and at Nagada in Egypt. It seems that the second possible comparison to the Timna skull with Early Indian proto-diavidoid types, found in the area of the Harappan culture, can be safely dismissed but should, nevertheless, be mentioned here.

Fig. 27

Fig. 28

Plate 26







27, 28 Site 2, Area M: Seaton and plan of the corbel-vaulted tomb with skeleton in situ

0 im N

Ramesside Copper Mines at Tirana The finds and stratigraphy of Site 2

Site 2 was essentially a copper smelting camp and, besides pottery, only a few non-metallurgical finds were made during its excavation. There were, of course, very many tools, mostly the typical saddle-backed querns of varying size, made of hard gritty red sandstone. There were also very numerous flints, granite and sandstone hammer-stones, mortars and pestles.

Most of the bones found were crushed, often to small fragments, as the meat was scraped off for eating; the majority of the bones came from goats but some might have come from ibexes. There were also numerous donkey bones and the remains of Red Sea fish. It is of considerable interest that several camel bones were found in the excavation, bearing in mind the early date of the site. Whether the camel was domesticated or wild, used as food or as pack-animal remains, so far, an open question.

Several copper implements were found, some showing signs of use, Fig. 29

others were in an 'as cast' stage and quite unfinished. A toggle pin of Early Iron Age type showed a 'cast in' hole, but the hole was found clogged by bits of mould and had never been used. Among the metal finds was a heavy copper spear-butt, found in Area D, a fine knife-blade, a ring, a needle and several awls, also a hook and one arrow-head. All these copper implements seem to have been made locally. Simple beads were found in most areas of the excavation. Whether this means the presence of women amongst the workers or the use of beads by the male workers themselves, or the manufacture of votive beads which evidently took place at Area F, described in the next chapter, cannot be decided.

A scarab was found in Area K. Made of steatite, 1-6 cm. long, 1-2 Plates 46, 47

cm. wide and o•8 cm. high, it shows a standing, human-headed, bearded, sphinx wearing an apron, which is preceded by an uraeus and moat (the sign for truth in the form of a feather). Over the sphinx is written: 'The Beneficent God' and underneath is the sign for 'Lord'. It is dated to the reign of Ramesses II of the XIXth Dynasty and a second scarab found some years ago on the surface of Site 2 by a casual visitor was of similar date.

A large quantity of sherds was found in the excavation of Site 2 and Figs 30-32

made the subject of a detailed study by Y. Aharoni. Compared with the rather meagre pottery from the surface collection, the excavation secured many additional types, including pieces important for dating.

In all areas the same three kinds of pottery, collected on the surface Plates 42-45,

during the previous surveys were found together on most of the 48-54

different working floors and in many of the pits. The excavations



Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna


0 c

I 2 3cm1ICIm1









• •

106 15 Copper needle; 16 Copper pin; 17 Copper hook

29 Copper and iron implements from Timna: 3-2 Spear butts; 3 Toggle pin; 4-5 Copper awl tips; 6 Tiny copper awl; 8 Copper knife; 9 Copper ring; to-,, Iron bracelets; 12 Copper spatula; 13 Copper arrowhead; 14 Tiny copper spatula;




proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that these three distinct kinds of pottery - 'normal' wheel-made pottery, 'Negev-type' pottery and 'Midianite' pottery - were used in Timna at one and the same time. But, important as this conclusion may be from the stratigraphic, historical and ethnographic aspects of the excavations, none but the normal, wheel-made pottery could be of any real help for the dating of the site, because only comparative material for this kind of pottery was available. Luckily, quite a number of distinctive types were secured, including cooking pots of the shallow, open and carinated type, with small, folded, triangular-shaped rims and no handles. These pots closely resemble the typical Late Bronze Age cooking pots of Palestine and of the neighbouring countries. Many large carinated bowls with handles, and storage jars with pointed and

30 Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age I wheel-made pottery from Site 2


L I 1

7 I 1--J




31 Negev-type, hand-made pottery from Site 2

15 16

32 Midianite pottery with bichrome decoration _from Site 2 0 0

Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

thickened bases can also be dated to Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age tradition. Two pithoi with collared rims are of a highly indica-tive type very common in the Early Iron Age of Palestine. Other typical types of Late Bronze Age date are jugs with pinched or rounded mouths, a pyxis, and some fragments of deep lamps with small rims and rounded bases.

Only few details were added by the excavations to the repertory of the Negev ware, including some small cups and bowls with inverted rims and rounded bases, some round-based cooking pots and several vessels with fabric impressions not only on their bases but also on their sides. This latter detail clearly shows an additional method of primitive pottery manufacture in Timna. Conclusive evidence for the origin in Timna of at least part of the Negev-type ware found in the excavation, can be seen in the copper slag fragments included as temper in the clay of many of these cooking pots.

Many new pottery types and decorations were added to the

repertory of the Midianite pottery, including a number of whole Fig. 32

vessels. From these vessels it became possible to learn something

about the Midianite method of pottery making: traces of a turning Plates 48-52, 54

process can be seen on some of the larger bowls but these are different from the lines left behind by the fast potter's wheel. It therefore seems most likely that the vessels were made on a slow revolving base, or even only smoothed by a slow turning process. A thick slip was applied in pink-buff or yellow-brown and well smoothed.

Among the complete vessels found were cooking pots with flat bottoms, straight sides and slightly flaring rims and without decoration, but made of the typical Midianite buff to light red clay, usually slipped and burnished. Additional patterns of decoration add many variations even to the most common combinations of horizontal and vertical lines, wavy and angular zig-zags, dots, crosses and entwined and concentric semi-circles. There are arrangements of metopes and triglyphs with diagonal lines, and alternate criss-cross hatchings or filled triangles. A complex design is applied to some deep cups, consisting of long narrow bichrome triangles with an 'eye' in the upper end, enclosed on three sides by dark brown double lines. A line of crosses and dots in brown, between two red lines, drawn in the upper part of the cup, adds a particular attraction to this design.

The study of the pottery established a Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age date for Site 2, the lowest possible absolute date being the twelfth century B C. The few datable metal finds, especially the early








Ramesside Copper Mines at Timna

type toggle-pin and the spear-butt, correspond well with this dating, whilst the two Ramesses II scarabs indicate a thirteenth century BC date. The copper works at Site 2 are, therefore, dated to the thirteenth to twelfth centuries s c.

The study of the sequences of superimposed floors and their relationship to several building and repair phases, as established in most excavated areas of Site 2, together with a minute stratigraphic recording of all sherds found, allows us to draw the conclusion that there is only one archaeological level here. This means that on and in every floor of this level, as well as in the pits, the same Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age pottery was found.

Buildings and smelting installations were first erected on the red Nubian sandstone covered by a thin layer of red sand. Here, the lowest working-floor was formed with pits penetrating into the rock below. Continued industrial activities led to the formation of several superimposed floors, on each of which remains were found in situ and also a number of pits, penetrating through the floors beneath. The number of working-floors varies from area to area but the distance from one floor to the other does not generally exceed 10-20 cm. The deposits on the working-floor consist chiefly of sand, mixed with ash, charcoal and slag particles, bones, industrial waste and domestic refuse. Often a layer of fine wind-borne or water-carried drift sand, seldom reaching a thickness of more than 1-2 cm., indicates seasonal interruption of the smelting activities.

The brown stratum, common to all working-floors, is seldom more than 6o cm. thick, and ends with an uppermost working sur-face on which were found a number of objects, as well as installations and pits from the final phase of organized industrial activity at the site.

After a prolonged period of intensive, but seasonally interrupted activities, resulting in the series of superimposed, brownish working floors, a violent earthquake struck the site, causing great havoc. Walls collapsed and buried beneath their debris a great many objects and installations. After the destruction no elaborate repairs were made, instead new installations were put up near the demolished, earlier ones. Only minor repairs are evident here and there as, for instance, in storehouse Locus 1021, or in the casting workshop Loci 1037-1038 of Area K. The storerooms, containing water-cisterns or large working installations, were cleared of the debris but other-wise much of it was simply left where it had fallen and new walls built on top or alongside.

There seems to have been a prolonged interruption of work towards the final activities at Site 2. Above the brown stratum ofworking-floors, a layer of reddish-grey wind- and water-borne drift sand was deposited, with a hard crust on top. Traces of metal-lurgical activities were found on this uppermost surface, mainly between the protruding tops of drift-sand covered building walls belonging to the brown main stratum. Here and there primitive, mostly circular structures were constructed from stray debris immediately on this uppermost surface, as was the round structure in Area B2-3. Yet the pottery found here, together with stone implements, furnaces and slag, does not differ in any way from the sherds found in the main stratum underneath. There are convincing indications that the people who worked at the site during this final phase of activity, knew about the remains underneath the drift sand layer and made use of some of the still serviceable installations, and also retrieved many of the stone tools left on the uppermost, brown working-floor. It seems that sometime after organized activities at Site 2 had ceased and drift-sand had started to settle on the installa-tions, local workers, who had worked here previously and knew well the details of the site, returned for an additional period of work. These people are assumed to have been the Midianites of the twelfth century BC who were also found to have re-occupied, for a short while, the Egyptian mining temple of Timna and turned it into a Midianite shrine.




High Places and Rock Engravings in the Timna Valley

The three ethnically different groups, which collaborated in the operation of the Early Iron Age copper works, are represented in different places of worship discovered and excavated in the Timna Valley. Some of these are obviously cult sites, for others there seems to be no other plausible explanation, but all need a lot more study for their final appreciation, especially as regards the details of the actual ritual and their ethnic connections.

A small Semitic temple at Area A, Site 2

South-east of the actual industrial area, slightly higher up on the slope and obviously intentionally isolated from the smelting installa-tions and workshops, a tumulus of stone debris attracted the

Plate 113 excavators' attention during the first survey of the site. Before the excavation, remains of a small, square stone structure (Structure II) could be seen standing on top of a larger, ruined and sand-covered structure (Structure I). The tumulus was partly excavated in 1964 and cleared to bedrock in 1966.

Fig. 33 Structure I, built of local red sandstone blocks of medium size,

was a rectangular building, 9 m. long (east-west) and 8 m. wide, with

Plate I14 its entrance at the east end. Next to the entrance, inside the building, a low stone bench, possibly an offering bench, was built against the eastern wall. A large, square, flat-topped stone stood in the centre and served, presumably, as an altar. All around it were ashes, a large quantity of broken animal bones, fruit kernels, some pottery representative of the three groups already mentioned and beads.

Plate 110 At the west end of the building five large, rough-hewn, stone slabs were standing in line, carefully kept upright by wedges of small stones under their base. These were obviously standing-stones (mazzeboth). A libation bowl stood before them, carefully carved from a sandstone block. The bowl stood on a round, bowl-like cavity, carved into the bedrock, and this must have served as the original libation bowl. One semi-circular annex was built against the outer north walls, another next to the entrance. Much wood ash and

I 12

High Places and Rock Engravings in the Timna Valley

many crushed bones, mainly of goats, were found inside both annexes.

Structure I appeared to have been a small place of worship, of typical Semitic layout, attached to the large smelting Camp 2. It may also have served the workers of camps 14 and 5, located only a short distance across the ridge to the east of Camp 2, who otherwise do not seem to have had their own cult place. It was built after metallur-gical activities had gone on for some time in the adjacent smelting camp, because below its north-eastern walls a thin layer of metallur-gical waste was found. The other walls, altar and mazzeboth stood on a thin, undisturbed, layer of red Nubian sand or directly on the red bedrock. Originally the walls, now about 70 cm. high, must have

33 Site 2, Area A: A small Semitic shrine found, almost completely empty, next to the copper smelting installations. Structure I is the outer perimeter, Structure II the shaded stones area





been approximately 1-5 m. high. A mass of their debris was found laying in orderly lines, mainly on the south-west side of all walls. The seemingly sudden collapse of all the walls must have been caused by an earthquake, attested also in other parts of the Timna Valley and at the excavations of Site 2.

The ruins of Structure I became almost completely covered by wind-borne fine sand. By the time this sand-fill had reached the height of the altar, its top still slightly protruding, Structure II was erected on top of the debris, with the altar in its exact centre. This may, of course, be pure chance, but many other indications in the excavation of Camp 2 make it almost certain that the newcomers to Camp 2, who also built Structure II, were familiar with' the layout of the camp, its stores and installations, and may have continued using the altar.

Structure II was 3-5 x 2.5 m., its entrance also at the south-east side. Its walls were originally about 8o cm. high. Besides some sherds of the rough non-decorated kind, no finds of any sort were made. Like its predecessor, it slowly filled up with fine wind-blown sand.

A High Place at Area F, Site 2

Smelting site 2 is contained in a small valley, enclosed by low, rugged Fig. 16 mountains. About 70 m. west of the actual smelting area, a cone-shaped hill, about zo m. high, ends the chain of hills enclosing the site

Plate 109 from the west. The summit of this hill is a flat area of 5 x 8 m. Here,

Fig. 34 remains of a completely destroyed structure were found, today no more than a group of rough stones, most of the original structure having collapsed onto the steep slope below, forming a large heap of debris. Next to this destroyed structure, an area of about 4 sq. m. was covered by metallurgical waste- small slag pieces, burned stones, ash, fragments of charcoal and a scatter of sherds.

The cone-shaped hill is connected with the main chain of moun-

Plate 24 tains by a narrow saddle of rock, whose maximum width is about 4 m. On this ridge was an oval-shaped tumulus, measuring 4.80 x 3-10 m. and about 50 cm. high. Between this and the slightly higher summit, the ground was covered with a jumble of stones and metal-lurgical waste, which included burnt earth, fragments of small crucibles with adhering slag, charcoal, clay protectors for bellow nozzles, broken stone crushing tools and lumps of furnace wall lining. From this material, collected both here and in the debris heap below, it is evident that a melting-casting installation was being operated with some of the work taking place higher up, on the summit of the hill itself, next to the destroyed structure.

34 Site 2, Area F: Plan of the High Place on top of a hill next to the smelting camp. C debris; D metallurgical waste; E burnt soil, ash, charcoal and slag



• ,,,, .q


Timna High Places and Rock Engravings in the Timna Valley

Although some metallurgical waste extended over the eastern end of the tumulus, subsequent excavation proved that the tumulus itself was not directly connected with the metallurgical installation. The tumulus was completely cleared to bedrock. Before excavation, the shape of the stone heap gave the impression of a small, rectangular structure, the walls of which had collapsed, mainly onto the slopes below, on both sides of the ridge. A section dug across the tumulus showed a depression in its middle, but no clear wall construction could be discerned. The top layer of the tumulus, about 3o cm. thick, was a mass of small disarranged stones, covering what appeared to be a 'floor' of carefully laid flat stones. This orderly core of the tumulus had a maximum thickness of 22 cm. and there was nothing beneath it, only the solid rock on which it was built. An unusually large quantity of pot sherds was found around and within the tumulus, between the stones of its core, and also in the debris on the slopes on both sides of the ridge. There were very many decorated sherds of Midianite type, fragments of blackened cooking pots and large storage jars and also hand-made, rough cooking pots and bowls of the Negev type. Besides the large quantity of pottery there were other finds, rather unexpected in a copper smelting camp : many beads, made of faience, carnelian, mica schist discs, stone and glass, several very small copper spatulae and needles, perforated Red Sea shells and ostrich eggshells. Above the 'floor' itself, and seemingly put there intentionally, were several goat horns, copper rings, two small iron armlets and many beads. Because of its location, the nature of the structures, and the materials found in Area F, this area may be interpreted as a bamah, a High Place, where small copper votive implements, such as we actually found later in the neighbouring Hathor Temple, were cast. Some simple faience beads were also manufactured here. It seems likely that the metallurgical operations, which undoubtedly took place here, were an integral part of the actual ritual and it would appear that the Midianites, the makers of the similar copper votive gifts found in the Hathor Temple, were the worshippers at this site.

A number of perplexing facts should be mentioned in conclusion:

Many stone implements were found in Area F. Yet, in contrast to the finds from the excavation and from the surface of the smelting areas below, all the implements found here were broken.

2 Every scrap of pottery was most carefully collected at the site, excavated down to bedrock. This effort was mainly in order to secure some complete Midianite vessels, such as had never

previously been found elsewhere. The final total was 84 large baskets full of pot sherds. Despite this quantity of material it still proved impossible to restore any complete vessels, although it was possible to reconstruct several vessels from a few sherds found in the area.

3 Utilizing pottery mending as a stratigraphic check, particular attention was paid to the sherds found within the 'floor' or the core of the tumulus in relation to those found above it, as well as in the heaps of debris on the slopes. It became evident that some of the sherds found inside the 'floor' belonged to sherds found both above it and also in the debris on the slope. Yet, there can be no doubt that the core was laid from flat stones and had a radically different structure from the stone layer above and the 'walls' on its sides. It is also noteworthy that no metallurgical traces were found in the area of this core.

Site 34 (G•R• 14509090), located on top of a flat hill of white sand-stone in Nahal Nehushtan, has already been mentioned. Its large mass of finely crushed slag is dispersed over most of the plateau, indicating very intensive metallurgical operations. Only at the extreme north-east end of the hill (at point A), is there no sign of any metallurgy. Here, natural rock steps lead up for about to m. to a raised platform, which shows clear marks of tooling. In fact, the top of this projecting rock, 3 x 3 m., was carefully flattened. At its foot, four large and several small shallow cup marks (15-40 cm. in diameter, to-zo cm. deep) were carved into the natural steps. This platform and the cup marks appear to be the rock altar and libation bowls of a bamah, a High Place, which served the smelters of Site 34. Its sacred nature, as a place of worship, may be the explanation for the fact that no metallurgical waste was found anywhere near it and in this respect it is quite different from Area F at Site 2, which was the site of ritual casting. A small, very primitive and seemingly ancient figure of a camel with a human figure standing or sitting on its single hump, found engraved in thin lines on top of the altar, may give some ethnological indications as to the worshippers at this High Place, but further research will be required. It is, nevertheless, obvious that it is not an Egyptian cult place and it may have been used by the Amalekite makers of the Negev-type pottery, found in abundance at Site 34. Bamah A, towering high above Nahal Nehush-tan, conspicuous from afar, could well have been an inspiring place of worship.

Plate 61

Plate 62

Site 34, a rock altar




High Places and Rock Engravings in the Timna Valley

Site 198, a funerary shrine on top of 'King Solomon's Pillars'

On top of the red Nubian sandstone formation, called `King Solomon's Pillars', it is difficult to move. After climbing upwards for approximately 3o m. on a steep, sandy slope at the south end of the rock formation, the top of the mountain is reached and the going becomes very rugged, with huge boulders and narrow fissures. At G.R. 14579094 the area turns into a labyrinth of narrow passages between straight-sided hillocks of 3-5 m. high. These low hillocks are actually huge blocks of rock, with low, long and narrow empty crevices washed out by wind and water at their bases, many of them closed by small flat stones. In fact, these rock crevices were turned into narrow chambers or cells, most now empty but several are still closed. Scattered human bones indicate that this area, Site 199 on our survey map, must have been a burial place. One complete, large

Fig. 35 Negev-type cooking pot and a beautifully decorated Midianite jug were found here.




About so m. south of Site 199, a huge block of rock slipped down Plate i from above and landed on its side, leaning against the face of the mountain. A triangular, shelter-like space was thus formed between the rock face and the fallen stone, about 4 m. high, 3 m. wide (on the ground level) and about 4 m. deep. Inside this narrow shelter, Site 198, a standing stone, 55 cm. high and 30 cm. wide, with carefully rounded top, was found on a flat, table-like, rock. To keep the stan-

ding stone from falling it was held in position by several small wedge Plate 112

stones and it also leant against the mountain face. A flat stone with a very shallow cup mark was lying right at the foot of the 'table'. Inside and in front of the shelter decorated Midianite sherds were found and also several stone tools and a small quantity of slag and charcoal. This site is undoubtedly a small shrine, connected with the burial site on top of 'King Solomon's Pillars', with a massebah standing on an 'offering table', and a libation bowl right next to it. Considering the pottery found, it seems safe to conclude that this was a Midianite funerary shrine. The slag fragments, tools and charcoal found could belong to some kind of ritual casting, like those at Area F, Site 2, described above.

Votive rock-drawings in the Timna copper mines

The mining sites 24 and 25 arc situated along the northernmost upper reaches of Nahal Timna. Here the Timna cliffs retreat and form a small side valley, flanked on both sides by huge deposits of cupriferous Middle White Nubian sandstone and slopes with very numerous ore-dressing 'plates'. Mine 25 forms a long, rugged triangle, projecting nose-like into the wadi and is conspicious from afar by its light, almost white tints.

About so m. before the southern tip of mine 25, a to m. high pile ENGRAVING I

of rubble and large boulders, evidently caused by heavy stonefall Plate 59

from above, lies against the mining wall. Some 5 m. above the head

of this pile is a 5 m. wide and 2 m. high rock picture (Engraving I) Fig. 36

engraved on a particularly smooth area of the rock wall.

Although it is debatable whether all the details of this picture were Plate 6o

made by one and the same hand, it is evident that it was done pur-posefully as one pictorial unit. The figures are deeply incised with a sharp-pointed implement and several groups of small holes are visible within the area of the picture, mainly on the left upper corner. No meaning could be attributed to them and it seems doubtful whether they are related to the original rock engraving. The picture was conceived as three long rows of figures of which the upper and lower rows are well preserved. The middle row has suffered some


35 Midianite bi-chrome decorated jug and Negev-type cook-ing pot found al the burial site above' the Tirana temple (Site 199)

High Places and Rock Engravings in the Timna Valley

I --,r'v_

1„,,-.1,_i 1/7

,, .,, el A` --- I 'n--77- ir-

is___V-- il r/

ti C

-,. air 74 1? it r".

441 / ‹f-- ----,---„, R

-r T

_.- ----

--.----- A -_-:_-----.p Tr_ j-) ler-- f


A \

0 1m

36 Rock-engraving 1, found on the wall of mine 25

damage and several of the figures are, therefore, difficult to see. A solitary, strange, 'human' figure is carved above the left end of the upper row, its hands raised, showing four widespread fingers only. A curious object, drawn as a straight line ending in an oval sling or handle, projects sideways from his hip, and could represent a weapon. Similar strange figures have been found previously at other Iron Age sites in the Arabah and also at Site 25, Engraving 2, and it is suggested that it may be a magic representation, or some 'higher spirit'. Its isolated position above all other figures should also be noted.

All three rows offigures consist mainly of two types of animals: the ibex (capra ibex) and the ostrich (struthio camelus), but there are also some gazelles (gazella sp.). Several human figures probably represent-ing hunters appear within the rows of animals, some holding a lasso or a shield in their left hand. One ibex is drawn lying on its back. In the centre of the uppermost row there is a curious sign, a square with

Fig. 37 two short legs. The same, unidentified sign was found at Site 251 in the Arabah. At the right end of the lowest row there is a crude representation of a chariot which, curiously enough, seems to have only an axle with no chariot floor and the draught animals are not really connected to the four-spoked wheels. The 'chariot' is drawn by two ibexes with long, drawn-back horns, harnessed together at their heads by a rather heavy looking cross-beam. Presumably the

originator of this chariot engraving never saw a real chariot, but copied his from the memory of another nearby rock-engraving, representing several chariots (Engraving 2).

Before turning to this second rock-engraving, a few relevant details of Site 25 need to be described. The rock wall to the left of Engraving I shows clear evidence of tectonic changes, presumably caused by earthquakes. At its foot are piled large boulders which have obviously broken away from above, leaving a very rough wall with a much lighter patina. The same lighter patina also continues on the lower part of the rock wall below Engraving 1, which, besides the rubble underneath, can provide evidence that here also some stone masses must have fallen down. Next to Engraving I, remains of an earlier tubular cistern were found, with a vertical row of footsteps leading up to about 2 m. below the level of the engraving. This indicates the original height of the top of the cistern. Further to the left of the engraving, a ledge in the rock-wall continues for about so m., ending at the entrance to a small cave, approximately 8 m. above the present surface. Here another broken cistern was found, its upper rim exactly at the height of the ledge in front of the cave. Inside the cave was a fireplace and some pottery. There can be little doubt that, at the time the rock engraving was actually made, there must have been a wide ledge or even a solid slope running all along the wall and the artist must have stood on it, next to the cistern's upper rim.

Continuing westwards for about loo m. along the cliffs, a narrow canyon opens into the mountain side. The canyon is about go m. deep, zo m. high and 3-5 m. wide. On its left side a 9 m. long and

37 Unidentified inscription at Site 251 in the Arabah



Plate 59



High Places and Rock Engravings in the Timna Valley




- - - CARVED & GREY RED COLOUR ONLY j8 Rock-engraving 2, a processional array with apparent magic significance on the walls of mine 25

Fig. 38

Plate 55

1.5 m. high rock-engraving (Engraving 2) was cut into a smooth stone frieze, sheltered from the sometimes torrential rain of this area by overhanging rocks.

Engraving 2 is incised into the rock with a sharp point and many of its lines were filled in with red and white colour. Already from the point of view of its engraving-colour technique this picture is most unusual. Nothing like it has ever been reported in the Near East, although the technology of engraving and subsequent colouring is well-known from Egyptian wall-paintings. The details of this picture convey a great deal of information, although much of it remains enigmatic, mainly due to lack of comparative material. The basic theme of Engraving 2 is an arrangement of four-spoked, manned chariots. The chariots are drawn having rear-positioned wheels, but without a side-screen. The draught animals, which seem to be oxen, are harnessed to the front of the pole and appear to wear some kind of yoke. One or two armed men are standing on the floor of each chariot. Some of the charioteers carry a round-topped or circular shield or a bow, whilst almost all the occupants hold a typical Egyptian New Kingdom battle-axe in their raised hand and have a short, hilted dagger. To free the hands of the charioteer, the reins are tied around his waist, a fashion well-known from New Kingdom wall-paintings and also from the Ugarit gold patera dating to the late fifteenth or early fourteenth centuries sc. All occupants of the chariots and the round-headed, battle-axe-carryingmen standing before them, wear a loin cloth, folded into a pointed apron in front. The artist carefully drew the details of this fashion typical of the Egyptian soldier of the New Kingdom, as can be seen, for instance, on the reliefs of Queen Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el-Bahri.

In the upper centre of the panel we meet men of a different type, their bodies drawn as two long parallel lines to indicate their larger size. These men seem to be wearing some kind of helmet, carry long, hilted, straight-bladed swords, and wear tasseled kilts. This part of the engraving, contrary to the chariot array, is populated by various animals: we have here ibexes, some ostriches, dogs and several representations of the straight-horned oryx (oryx leucoryx). The latter has so far not been found in any rock drawings in the area and a small number of this desert antelope are known still to exist in South Arabia. The dogs seem to chase the animals and one of the hunters has just sent an arrow after an ibex. In the lowest part of the picture, next to the third chariot from the right, appears a horse with a rider (?) on its back. The group of barely discernible scratchings in the upper left corner of the engraving, badly copying some of the figures of the original drawing, is an addition, probably later, made in red and by rubbing with a blunt implement. The solitary figure on the extreme right is incised on a different plane of the rock, and may have been added here by the people that engraved the first rock-drawing. A later hand tried to 'improve' on the general layout

Plate 56

Plate 56



Timna V

Plate 54

of the engraving and pecked a kind of a sloping surface through part of the picture; they also added an unidentified, pecked object near the middle of the picture.

Essentially, Engraving v'seems to contain two different main themes, each with its own and differing `actors'. The ox-drawn chariot groups, manned by battle-axe brandishing charioteers, could not possibly reflect any real local event, neither fighting nor hunting ; they seem to represent a processional array with some cult or magic significance. Right underneath Engraving 2 were found several large bowls made of very soft white sandstone, broken by rocks that fell from above. These bowls, the like of which were not found anywhere else in the mining areas or in the smelting camps of Timna, could not have served any metallurgical purpose because of their extreme softness. Yet similar bowls or basins were found in the Egyptian mining temple at Timna, apparently used there in a ritual context. A quantity of sherds and bowls found in the canyon near the engraving belong, like the Timna Temple described below, to the XIX toe-XXth Dynasties.

The second theme of Engraving 2, concentrated in its centre, seems to be a hunt, with men and dogs chasing ibexes, ostriches and antelopes. It is obvious that the artists intended to differentiate between the Egyptian (?) charioteers and the tall, tassel-kilted hunters. These hunters may be identified with the Shosu of the Egyptian sources, perhaps here the Midianites, inhabitants of southern Transjordan and the Hedjaz. A date in the XIX to XXth Dynasties for Engraving 2 fits well with the date proposed for Engraving Besides, pottery of this period found in the rubble underneath Engraving I should, by all the evidence, be contemporary with the rock-carved cisterns found next to it. These cisterns are known to belong to the Egyptian mining enterprises of Timna, dated by the Timna Temple to this period, the end of the fourteenth to the middle of the twelfth centuries s c. Whether the human figures on Engraving I represent people ethnically different from the two human types of Engraving 2 and therefore a third ethnic factor, perhaps the Amalekites from the Central Negev mountains, known also to have worked in the Timna mines at the same time, is difficult to ascertain. The strange copy of the chariot on Engraving

seems to indicate that Engraving 2 must have been either earlier than or at least contemporary with Engraving 1, and the date proposed for both rock-engravings seems to be well established and their votive character plausible.

The Hathor Temple at Timna

Location and method of excavation

During the detailed survey of the Timna Valley in 1966, attention was paid to the vague outlines of what appeared to be the foundations

or ruined walls of a small structure built against `King Solomon's Plates 65, I

Pillars' in Nahal Nehushtan_ The Pillars', mentioned already above in connection with the Chalcolithic mining operations in the Arabah, are huge, picturesque, eroded formations at the south-western end of the Timna massif, almost in the centre of the ancient mining and smelting area of Timna. The site, numbered zoo on the survey map (G-R. 14579090), was a low mound, measuring 15 x m. and only approximately 1.5 m. in height, leaning against one of

the `Pillars'. Some white sandstone structures protruded slightly Plate 66

above the present surface and here and there some sherds, mainly Midianite, and a small copper arrowhead were found among the piles of rubbish left at the site by the many tourists visiting the `Pillars'. The fact that a building was erected at all at this particular spot, and that it was built of white sandstone (which had to be carried here from quite a distance) instead of the available local red sandstone, was very peculiar. Furthermore, three niches cut into the rock of the `Pillar' immediately above the mound, in the shade of a huge rock-ledge overhanging a great part of the mound, added further interest to this unusual site.

Excavation of the site was begun in March 1969. First, a con- Figs 39, 40

siderable quantity of recent refuse was removed and a one-by-one Plate 67

metre grid laid over an area of 13 x 29 m. This was excavated to bed-

rock with the exception of the building remains themselves, which Plate 69

were left standing, and part of the `white floor' in Loci ro9-1 0, which was also left in situ. A cross of two baulks was carefully kept, right to the end of the excavation, and drawn as stratigraphic sections. One ran NW-SE, from the large niche in the face of the `Pillar' to the lowest end of the slope below the structural remains; the second ran NE-SW, parallel to the face of the `Pillar' and right across the building and the slopes on both its sides. Each metre square was excavated as an independent area and the finds recorded

124 125

The Hathor Temple at Timna

LOC 111

LOC 112

LOC 105


LOC 104

LOC 101

39, go Site 200, The Temple: Plan of excavated loci (Locus 111 is the temple naos), and a simplified section of the temple, showing its location in relation to the rock wall and its major occupation layers

accordingly. The fords on floors, or floor-like surfaces, were usually left there until the whole area was cleared to the same surface in order to present, even during the excavation, a concrete picture of finds relative to structural remains on the same floor. Although the finds were individually recorded in their appropriate squares, a separate record was also kept of these interrelated data.

The excavation of the small mound was originally planned as a trial dig and scheduled to take about two weeks. Yet, right from the first day unusually numerous, uncommon, small finds were made, especially on the northern slope of the mound, necessitating that all excavated sand be sifted through two sets of sieves. The result was a prolonged season of more than two months, and almost 10,000 small finds. It often took several days to clear down to a depth of about so cm. because of the innumerable finds, including hundreds of tiny beads, very fragile faience, glass and wooden objects, not to speak of masses of decayed cloth. The main reason for the prolongation of the excavations was, of course, the nature of the site itself. On the

fourth day of work a rich hoard of metal objects came to light, Plate 95

including copper and iron jewellery, mixed with a large quantity of specially chosen ore nodules, and Egyptian faience objects, some of the latter bearing hieroglyphic inscriptions. A figure of a non-

Egyptian male god (?) was found in this hoard, as well as some Plate XVIII

Midianite sherds. The next day a small copper snake was found in Plates XIX, XX

Locus iii and, immediately afterwards, the excavating team were

amazed to find an exquisite faience face of Hathor, the Egyptian Plates 8o, X

goddess, about zo cm. below the present surface in Locus o. This find made it obvious that the site was an unusual place of worship; in fact, the several representations of Hathor already discovered during the first days of the excavation made it evident that here an Egyptian temple, dedicated to Hathor, was being excavated.

The stratigraphy of the Temple site

The actual habitation layer of the mound consists of sand, structural remains, floors and floor-like surfaces, destruction debris and many unrelated building stones - all these in a layer of less than one metre deep. If we add here that within this layer remains were found which date from the fourth millennium BC to the Roman period, including destruction and secondary uses of structures and floors, the com-plicated stratigraphy of the site becomes evident. Nevertheless, it was found possible to relate many of the finds to certain chronological phases of the site and, in many cases, to certain architectural features as well.

The Hathor Temple at Timna

generation in its occupation. It is suggested that this lacuna coincides with the first destruction of the Hathor Temple, during or shortly after the reign of Sethos II, at the end of the thirteenth century BC, although its accurate archaeological dating was not possible.

Stratum V, the earliest occupation of the site, dated by pottery and flint implements to the Chalcolithic period.

The story of the Hathor Temple

The archaeological stratification, architectural remains and habita- ARCHITECTURE

tion-surfaces, combined with the analyses of the numerous finds from all strata of the mound, and compared with the data gleaned from the many inscribed objects found in the excavation, result in a fairly clear picture of the life story of the Timna Temple. It falls into four phases:

(a) At the beginning, there were several shallow rock-cut pits and a Plate 73 few fireplaces under the rock-shelter formed by the huge over-hanging walls of 'King Solomon's Pillars'. Some structures seem to have existed here but only meagre evidence of them was found under wall 3 in Locus los, giving no idea as to their possible function. Near the fireplaces, but mainly in the bottom levels resting on the sand-stone bed, a number of Chalcolithic flint tools, some rope-decorated Fig. 42 sherds and fragments of Chalcolithic hole-mouth jars were found. The flint implements were mainly scrapers, but included an awl, a borer, blades, cores, and hammerstones. A large number of flakes and other flint waste testify to the manufacture of flint implements at the site during its Chalcolithic occupation. Whether this site was already a Chalcolithic place of worship or whether it served merely as a convenient camping site in the shade of the overhanging rock, could not be established by the excavation. Not enough of the earliest phase could be unearthed without destroying the temple structure and this problem remains, therefore, undecided. However, it seems that already in this earliest period of copper smelting in the Arabah, the Chalcolithic miners of Timna dedicated this unusual location to some special purpose. Nowhere else in Timna were similar remains and rock-cut pits found, although other camping sites with Chalcolithic flint tools and pottery were located along the slopes of Har Timna and also along the bottom of 'King Solomon's Pillars'. Perhaps it is not a matter of fortuitous coincidence that inside the naos a shallow pit with Chalcolithic remains was found below the earliest Egyptian surface.

(b) More than 2000 years later, during the reign of Sethos I (1318-1304 BO of the XIXth Dynasty, an Egyptian temple was erected on top

42 Chalcolithic pottery and flint implements found underneath the Egyptian temple (Site zoo)

of the Chalcolithic remains. An open court, measuring 9 x 7 m., and mainly of red Nubian sandstone with some limestone boulders was built against the face of the 'Pillar'. It was a dry built, rough, but very solid structure. There is no evidence for the location of the entrance to the court at this initial stage of the temple, but it may be assumed that it was more or less at the same place as in the second temple phase, i.e. in the eastern wall, opposite the naos. The naos, a small shrine, 2.70x .70 m., of white sandstone, leant against the face of the 'Pillar', with a large, almost man-high niche in its centre. Very little masonry of the original naos remained in situ, but two well-dressed square bases and several additional basic parts of the original structure helped in establishing some of its details. Two square pillars, bearing sculptured representations of the head of Hathor, were found in the excavation and seem to have stood on the bases. One end of a large stone architrave, parts of which were found in the excavation, had rested on the Hathor pillars, whilst the other end rested in the two niches cut for this purpose into the rock-face.

A considerable number of well-dressed and also several finely ornamented architectural elements were found on the site, mainly in Loci 106-107 and and also dispersed over a wide area around the • actual temple site, testifying to the unusually high aesthetic quality of the original naos building. Several square pillars bearing traces of hieroglyphic inscriptions were found lying around the naos, others

The Hathor Temple at Timna

were found built into the second, later temple structure but their hieroglyphs were almost entirely erased. A number of finely tooled Egyptian incense-altars were found in secondary use in Locus 106. Here also a flat, rectangular offering table of white sandstone, 72 x 56 cm., with a groove around its edges, was found on the floor. Apart from walls 1 and 3 and some parts of the naos, no architectural details of the original first temple structure survived what must have been a thoroughly wanton destruction; and there was no archaeolo-gical evidence to identify the destroyer of this first temple.

(c) A new temple was built on top of the ruins of the original temple structure, utilizing some of its architectural elements. A new floor, consisting mainly of crushed white debris from the original temple structure was laid. Next to the naos, and especially in Loci 109-110, it was found to be a solid mass of white crushed stones, almost 15 cm. thick, which became gradually thinner further east and on the slope outside the temple court. This white floor greatly helped to identify the constructional changes and repairs of the second temple, as it was also found underneath some of the walls and structures. Unfor-tunately, it was of little help in dating the destruction of the first temple as the effects of the destruction went right down to bedrock and few traces of the original floor were found. Although on this early floor, beneath the later white floor, many finds were made, no inscribed and therefore reliably dated objects could be clearly related to it. The white floor lying on the very soft sand of the original court surface seems in itself to have caused a considerable mix-up of any existing stratigraphic evidence.

Court walls i and 3 were repaired and lengthened from 7 to 9 m. and wall 2 was rebuilt. White sandstone, including well-dressed stones from the first naos structure and even some parts of broken Egyptian altars, was now re-used for the repair and enlargement of the temple walls. The entrance was made opposite the naos in wall 2. The destroyed naos itself was rebuilt, and the pillars and ornamented lintels re-used as building material with plaster finish. A stone platform of large, flat, well-dressed stones in front of the naos, measuring about 3 x 3 m., indicates a vestibule or pronaos. This platform was also built of re-used stones, some bearing very fine toolmarks of comb-shaped metal chisels or picks.

The stratigraphy of the naos demanded painstaking clearance of the inside, down to the bed-rock and also several trial trenches into the adjoining pronaos. Inside the naos the existence of three hard superimposed surfaces, with finds lying on them, could be clearly established. The lowest phase is the bed-rock with a rock-cut pit and



some Chalcolithic pottery. On top of a layer of fill a hard surface was found upon which the two pillar-bases of the first temple phase were standing ; some pottery was found there besides other traces of habitation. Eleven centimetres higher, another hard surface with pottery and other finds seems to represent the floor of the second temple phase. On top of this there was fill and debris, which had fallen in from the sides only, including plaster fragments from the second Egyptian temple and also some Roman pottery (in the upper level of the fill).

Outside the naos a trial trench was dug close to its front and a similar stratigraphic picture appeared with two superimposed surfaces at almost the same levels as the floors inside the naos. The lower floor I was at the level of the pillar-bases, with pottery, ash and fragments of Egyptian glass. Above this habitation floor several centimetres of fine sand fill indicated a lapse in the use of the temple. On top of this the thick and solid mass of crushed white sandstone fragments formed floor II. There were finds also within the white floor and these must therefore belong to the destroyed first temple. On the second floor in the trench in front of the naos a cartouche bearing the name of Ramesses Ill was found, as well as Egyptian glass fragments and other finds. It therefore seems that the first temple was built by Sethos I, destroyed or abandoned during the reign of Sethos II, and the second temple was reconstructed by Ramesses III. However, it should be remembered that there is no definitive archaeological evidence for this although it does appear to be a logical solution which fits the historical picture of this period and the meagre stratigraphical evidence.

Although not much progress has been made so far in the actual reconstruction of the naos, all evidence points to a kiosk type struc-ture, with perhaps a vestibule in front serving as entrance passage. There was no need for any roof to the shrine because the overhanging rock of the 'Pillar' served as excellent protection against any rain. Judging from the number of flat, well-dressed white sandstone slabs found it seems that the shrine was encased by stone screens and possibly also the face of the rock on either side of the niche. The central niche in the naos was found empty but perhaps one of the stone figures of Hathor, found thrown into the sand near the naos, originally stood in it. A small sphinx, the upper part of which was found next to the naos, may also have stood inside the niche. Both stone sculptures were made of local white sandstone. The face of the sphinx, together with the cartouche on both its sides, were unfor-tunately wantonly erased, but it bears a resemblance to Ramesses II.

70, 71 Above, Midianite offering-bench built against the temple wall with, in the foreground, one of the stone-lined post-holes for the tented shrine (Fig. 44). Below, remains of a Nabataean melting installation in the temple courtyard

72, 73 Above, row of mazzeboth in the Midianite shrine, incorporating re-used Egyptian incense altars. Below, Chalcolithic remains in a pit below the foundation wall of the first phase of the Egyptian naos

82, 83 Part of a faience sistrum with, left, the cartouche of Sethos I (Fig. 48, 2; approx. natural size)

84, 85 Left, faience ringstand with an inscription and double cartouche of Ramesses Ill (Fig. 49, 2; if. Fig. 62). Right, fragment of a faience bowl inscribed for Memeptah (Fig. 49, r) 86-89 Faience objects representing Hathor: above, left, her name and title 'Lady of the Turquoise' on a sistrum handle; right, her name on a bracelet fragment (Fig. 51, 4 and I). Below, Hathor faces from sistra with her typical cow's ears

The Hathor Temple at Timna

There is a clear similarity between the Hathor temple of Timna and the Egyptian temple excavated at Serabit el-Khadem by Petrie. In both the court wall surrounding the temple was roughly built with undressed stones. Since the excavation considerable thought has been given to the Egyptian origin of these rough, and not quite symmetric walls. However, all the stratigraphic evidence points to them belonging to the initial phase of the temple, with some changes in its second Egyptian phase.

As in the Tlathor Hanifeyeh' at Serabit, large stone basins, perhaps libation bowls, were found standing in the court of the temple though, with the exception of the basin in Locus 107 next to the naos, one cannot be sure whether they were still in situ. In fact, the basin in

Locus t t o was clearly in secondary use, probably as late as the Roman Fig. 6o

period. The basin in Locus 106 might be in its original position, but Plate 72 could also have been moved to its present position during one of the later phases of the temple, perhaps by the Midianites. Its interior was found lined with a layer of mortar.

Large libation bowls or basins seem to have been connected with Plate 69 the Hathor ritual as many such basins, bearing the actual image of Hathor, have been found at Egyptian temple sites. The fact that most basins in the Timna Temple were carved out of very soft white sandstone and could not have been used for any industrial purpose, should also be considered in this connection. It may be recalled that

similar white sandstone basins of ritual significance were also found Plate 57 near the rock drawings at Site 25 in Timna.

The basin in Locus 107 was found broken into several parts, with a thick layer of plaster around its circumference. This use of plaster accords well with the second phase of the adjoining naos, character-ized by the use of white and red plaster. As much heavy debris from the collapsed naos was found lying on top of the broken basin it might have been the direct cause of its breakage, and more evidence for the assumption that the second phase of the Egyptian temple was destroyed by an earthquake, clear traces of which have also been found at Site 2 and at other sites (95, 25, etc.).

(d) The earthquake which interrupted work at Site 2 and destroyed its shrine (Area A) must also have struck heavily at the Temple site. Although all the court walls seemed to have received a considerable shock at the time, which caused some collapse and the walls to get out of line, it was evident that the west side of the temple was worst hit. The naos collapsed and most of its debris fell to the west on to the floor of Locus 107 and was immediately covered over by stonefall from above. It is probably due to this fact that most of the beautifully


The Hathor Temple at Timna

decorated building stones, sculptures and many other fine finds which were covered by the earthquake debris were preserved and not effected by the later intrusions into the temple court, as was the case at the eastern half of the temple and in the naos itself. It seems that after the earthquake the temple was temporarily abandoned and some fine drift sand began to settle on its remains, thus indicating a break in the continuity of the site.

When the temple worship was renewed, which according to the archaeological evidence must have been a short while after its actual destruction and abandonment, the temple structure underwent considerable and most significant changes. A stone bench of two courses of flat stones was built against the inside of wall 2 on both sides of the entrance. This bench was a rather flimsy structure and could not have served any domestic purpose, yet it was well suited as an offering bench. Wall I was breached near the rock-face of the 'Pillar' as an opening into an additional structure, Locus 112, built at this phase against the outside of wall 1. Wall 4 was stratigraphically well above the foundation level of the adjoining wall 1 and was even standing somewhat above the white stone destruction level, found also under part of wall 4. It is assumed that Locus 112 served as the priests' chamber.

The most radical change in the ritual character of the temple was the erection of a row of standing stones as obvious mazzeboth, along the inside of wall 3, and consisting of different architectural elements, almost all in secondary use. At this phase in the life story of the temple, wall 3 was no more than a mass of red sandstone debris, fallen mainly outwards and forming a slope against the remaining few courses of the original wall. This was never much repaired but a low bench was built against part of it inside the court and continued as a row of single flat white sandstones right up to the face of the `Pillar'. This row of stones was simply placed on top of the debris and was more in the nature of a demarcation line rather than a wall. In the south corner of the temple court a big, flat-topped, piece of white sandstone was put to use as a base for a round incense-altar, a type found also at Serabit el-Khadem. Both stones together were meant to be one mazzebah. Three more incense-altars of the Serabit el-Khadem type were found incorporated into the row of mazzeboth by being placed on rough pedestals of one or more stones piled on top of each other. Between these 'combined' mazzeboth stood simple standing stones in the form of long and narrow slabs of white sand-stone. One of these standing stones had a pointed base set into a conical pit, cut some 25 cm. in to the bed-rock.

In the row of mazzeboth stood, obviously in secondary use, a square pillar with defaced representations of Hathor on two sides. This bears a strong similarity to the Hathor pillars at Serabit el-Khadem. Next to it was found a sandstone basin with a most unusual, heavy, granite boulder lying on top of it. The boulder, about so an. high, showed no tool marks except for a flattened base and a partly flattened side, where apparently it had once been fitted against a wall. It was found lying on the basin and must have been intentionally so placed as it could not have fallen there from any-where else. This unusually shaped boulder, the only granite object of its kind found in the excavation, must have had some special function in the original temple, which has yet to be established.

Behind this rather impressive row of mazzeboth and all along the inside of wall 3 a considerable quantity of red and yellow cloth was found. The cloth was of a heavy kind, lying in a thick mass and in many folds, often with beads woven into it. A similar mass of folded cloth was found along the inside of wall 1, also outside the court in Locus lot, along and close to ,wall 1. The detailed study of these textiles, not yet concluded, shows that they consist of well-woven wool and flax of varying tints of yellow and red. The appearance of such large quantities of cloth, stratigraphically belonging to the last phase of the temple, and their location, i.e. all along walls r and 3, was at first hard to understand. It was obvious that they must have been part of the temple-furniture, some kind of hangings that had fallen down and been left lying where they were found. iYet we could see no structure on to which these hangings could have been attached. The problem solved itself when, during the clearing of the floor in Loci 107-109, two stone-lined pole-holes were found, penetrating into the white floor, but obviously not contemporary with it. These were the holes made to secure the poles of a large tent which, during the final phase of the temple, had covered the temple court. The temple had been turned into a tent-covered shrine, the first of its kind ever discovered. There are convincing reasons to relate this tent-sanctuary to the Midianites who seem to have returned to Timna for a short time after the Egyptian copper mining expeditions no longer reached the area, and worked and worshipped in their own way.

The Midianites when refurnishing the Egyptian Hathor temple as a Semitic desert shrine cleared votive gifts, sculptures, inscriptions and Hathor sculptures out of the temple court. Most things were simply thrown out and piled behind the temple wall, out of sight of the visitors to the renovated shrine. This explains why most of the temple

Timna The Hathor Temple at Timna

On all but the lowest floors of strata II-IV were found the same three kinds of pottery which had occurred previously on the surface of the Timna sites and especially in the excavation of Site 2.

About to% of the pottery found in the temple was of the primitive, hand-made Negev ware, containing as temper fragments of slag or of 'normal' pottery, and it seems to have been locally made. The makers of this pottery, who may have been Amalekite mining

45 'Normal', wheel-made Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age I ware (1.-6, 13-24) and Negev-type, hand-made pottery (7-u) foundin the Timna temple (Site zoo)

Ut.) fL,a?

gifts were found, broken and mixed up, in one thick layer in Locus 101. The level of this deposit, from about 25 cm. above the wall foundations to about 20 cm. below its top, i.e. very close to the present surface, corresponds well with the latest, Semitic phase of the temple. A number of architectural elements, the square pillars, altars, etc., were re-used in the renovation of the temple as building stones or as part of the mazzeboth, but care was taken to deface the Hathor representations and to erase any visible hieroglyphic inscription. The central niche in the naos was left empty, but the naos itself was re-used, apparently still the temple's most important part. Here, a Midianite copper snake with a gilded head was found in situ, the only votive object actually found inside the naos.

Almost ten thousand single small objects were registered from stratified contexts, painstakingly cleared from within the main strata II-IV of the temple. Together with the finds from strata I and V, the number of small finds at Site 200 is almost eleven thousand. The repeated and thorough destruction, repairs and rebuilding of the temple structure, ancient cleaning-out operations of whatever was lying on the floors and, foremost, the Nabataean metallurgists' in-trustion into the temple ruins which had caused the utter destruction of any previously existing stratigraphy in the north-eastern half of the temple, made it best not to rely on the finds from strata II-IV for any chronological sequence. Therefore these finds are regarded as one group covering the whole period of the existence of the temple in all its phases, i.e. from the time of Sethos I to its terminating Midianite phase in the second half of the twelfth century B C.

0 5 10

X Faience votive mask of the Egyptian goddess Hathor.

XI View of the Hathor Temple beneath the rock overhang under 'King Solomon's Pillars' (see Plates 65-73).

XII A selection of the thousands of camelian, glass and faience beads found in the temple area.

XIII Egyptian amulets and beads of crystal, faience and shell from the temple. XIV, XV Fragments of multi-coloured Egyptian glass of the XIX-XX dynasties.

XVI Two long glass beads, decorated with coloured glass thread ribbing, from the temple.

XVII A small primitive copper figurine.

XVIII A phallic idol, cast in Timna and of non-Egyptian origin (cf. Plates toe-4).

XIX, XX Midianite copper serpent with a gilded head. It was found in the central shrine of the Egyptian temple in its Midianite phase.

Timna The Hathor Temple at Timna

similar to some of the figures on Engraving 2 at Site 25. Also found was a unique vessel of superb workmanship, seemingly used for

Fig. 47, 5 incense. It had the shape of a flat-bottomed cup with slightly indented walls, decorated with a series of birds, and a handle attached to the bottom consisting mainly of two thin, parallel, decorated fins running along the cup to its upper rim. The extraordinary variety and workmanship of the Midianite vessels found in the temple, as compared with the Midianite pottery from the other sites of Timna, is a clear indication that these sophisticated vessels were brought as votive gifts for the Hathor Temple. In the light of the finds of Midianite pottery with identical decorations on identical ware in north-western Arabia, it seems certain that the Midianite pottery was brought to the Timna temple all the way from there, perhaps from the large Midianite town at Qurayyah, about 160 km. south of Aqaba.

The remaining 65% of the pottery found in the temple was 'nor-

Fig. 45 mar, wheel-made Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age ware. In addition to the pottery types found also at Site 2, several new vessels made their appearance in the temple, together with some small flasks and two incense-stands.

The realization that the Timna copper works, with a Hathor Temple in its centre, was in fact a Pharaonic industrial undertaking dated to the New Kingdom brought the problem of the provenance of the pottery found in Timna to the foreground. Whilst sufficient comparative evidence existed from the Central Negev Mountains, the Arabah and north-western Arabia to relate the Negev ware and the Midianite pottery to the areas inhabited by the Amalekites and Midianites, the third and largest group of pottery, the 'normal', wheel-made Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age pottery cannot yet be traced to its origin or its originators. Although most of its forms and shapes can be compared to Palestinian pottery of the period it seems strange to find so much Palestinian pottery in an Egyptian industrial undertaking in the southernmost Arabah, operated in collaboration with tribes from the Negev Mountains and, more so, from Midian. There also exists written evidence (Harris Papyrus I) for direct supply connections with Egypt. Therefore the possibility that the `normal' wheel-made pottery of Timna was imported from some-where in Egypt was investigated.

Petrographic analysis of the Timna pottery proved highly interesting, though not entirely conclusive in regard to the problem. It showed that some of the Negev pottery contained as temper tiny fragments of the fayalite slag from the smelters of Timna as well as


crushed sherds of the rather distinctive 'normal' Timna ware. Its clay is red, very fine and isotropic. There can be no doubt that at least some of the Negev ware was made in the Timna Valley. The Midianite pottery differs in its clay and temper from any known pottery of Syria-Palestine. The colour of the very fine clay is a pale beige, it is homogenous, anisotropic and contains much mica, quartz and iron oxides. Its temper consists of tiny red fragments, probably of finely crushed burnt bricks. The 'normal' wheel-made pottery is not as homogenous as the other two groups. One such shered con-tained as temper fragments of magmatic and metamorphic rocks, whilst the others all contained quartz sands and fragments of various pottery. The clay of all the 'normal' sherds contains distinctive particles of rhomboidal shape, perhaps dolomite or selenite. The mineral content of this pottery does not allow the accurate identi-fication of its source but it is certain that it originates from somewhere in the semi-arid or arid areas of the pre-Cambrian massif, spreading from the eastern Delta of Egypt, through Sinai and the Arabah and well into Arabia. In other words, the 'normal' wheel-made pottery found in all Late Bronze Age-Iron Age 1 sites of Timna could have been brought to the Timna copper works from any supply centre in the area adjoining the large desert east of the Delta, but does not seem to come from Egypt itself. Unfortunately, there is no com-parative material available from this area and the quest for the origin of the 'normal' wheel-made Timna pottery must remain, for the present, unanswered.

A considerable number of Egyptian-made votive gifts were actually brought to the Timna Temple by the Egyptian mining expeditions. Of the greatest importance among these offerings are the objects bearing hieroglyphic inscriptions and cartouches con-taining the names of Egyptian pharaohs (studied by Dr R. Giveon). There were a number of faience menats, bearing the names of Ramesses II and Ramesses IV, and a small, blue faience seal together with a sistrum handle carried the name of Sethos I. The cartouche of Ramesses II occurs on fragments of a faience bowl, a fine green glass fragment, and on a number of bracelets. Another bowl bears the cartouche of Merneptah. The name of Ramesses III appears on a ring stand, and Ramesses IV on a menat fragment, on a beautiful lotus-decorated bowl and on several bracelets. The names of both Sethos II and Ramesses V were also found on bracelets.

The Egyptian kings thus represented by inscriptions in the Timna Temple are: Sethos I (1318-1304 BC), Ramesses II (1304-1237 BC), Merneptah (1236-122 s c), Sethos II (1216-1210 c) and Queen


Fig. 49 Twosret (1209-120o? BC). These all belong to the XIXth Dynasty. From the XXth Dynasty there are : Ramesses III (1198-1166 BC), Ramesses IV (1166-116o BC) and Ramesses V (116o-1156 BC).

Of particular interest is an inscription found on a bracelet fragment reading, `Hathor, Lady of the Turquoise', together with a similar one on a sistrum handle. 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt' occurs on several bracelets. The lower, inscribed half of an ushabti figure of

blue faience was also found but, unfortunately, the remaining text

does not include the owner's name.

Among the uninscribed faience offerings were fragments of vases and bowls, some beautifully decorated with spirals, wave patterns and lotus flowers. A very fine bowl shows a fish amid lotus flowers and plants and there were fragments of other fish bowls. Several wands were found, bearing the wedjet sacred eye on both sides. Various heads of Hathor, made of glazed pottery, were in fact sistrum handles, with a face of the goddess on each side. A number of other sistrum fragments were also found but none would join any of the pieces found in the temple on most of which Hathor has pronounced cow-ears.

Among the votive offerings especially connected with the worship of Hathor at Timna are representations of the cat family (felidae) including one leopard (Panthera Pardus). Cats appear as drawings on flat tablets, just as at Serabit el-Khadem, but mainly as figures in the round made of blue faience. A fine amulet of Bastet, made of a thin piece of bone, and a faience amulet of the same goddess should also be mentioned here as being related to Hathor worship. Numerous representations of the god Bes in the form of small phallic, magic amulets were also found. Another faience amulet possibly represents a king wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. A number of scarabs and seals were found, bearing animal represen-tations, geometrical designs and hieroglyphs. There were also some alabaster objects, including a complete small vase, and the foot of a small statue. Only a few metal objects could be identified as of Egyptian origin ; a finely incised gold head-band, a silver button, some tiny gold beads and various metal parts of sistra. A wooden comb, still in excellent condition, was of considerable interest.

According to A. Fahn, it was made of Buxus sempervirens, a wood still

used in many countries for the manufacture of combs, and which

grows in Europe, North Africa and Asia but not in Egypt or Palestine.

There were numerous fragments of carved stone objects and o statues, some quite small, others parts of large architectural elements.

5o Metal parts of sistra Stone was also used as raw material for bowls and decorated jar-lids


51 Inscribed Egyptian faience votive gifts from the temple (read by R. Giveon): t 'Hathor Lady of the Turquoise'; 2 Sign for 'gold', originally written after a king's name; 3 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt'; 4 King N) beloved [of Hathor] Lady of the Turquoise'; 3 Left: 'Son of Re'; Right: 'the Beneficent God' ; 6 'King of Upper and Lower Egypt'; 7 '[Given life] like Re for ever eternally'; 8 Bowl fragment with the blessing: 'Lord of Life, Stability, Well-being'

Timna The Hathor Temple at Timna

53 Temple offerings: t Fragment of wand; 2 Small alabaster vase; 3 Stone macehead; 4-5 Parts of Hathor representations showing her cow-ears




34 Scarabs, seals and amulets from the temple area: t Scarab showing a lion and the sign for 'truth'; 2 Loop-handled faience seal with geometrical pattern; 3 Hemi-cylindrical faience seal with falcon-headed solar deity and the sign for 'truth' ; 4 Faience scarab; 5 Scarab; 6 Faience scaraboid with geometrical pattern; 7 Clay seal, both sides reading 'Amon-Ra' ; 8 Small faience seal; q Primitive seal with unidentified animal; to Double-sided seal; it Gold band; 12 Double-sided faience seal: two scorpions and 'Amon-Ra'; 13 An unidentified king wearing the Double Crown of Egypt; 14 Faience figurine of the goddess Baster

The Harbor Temple at Timm

as well as for gaming boards. A 3o cm. high rectangular podium of Plate 75

local white sandstone had the lower half of a cat or sphinx sitting on it but very many of the stone objects were defaced beyond recognition.

Numerous fragments of Egyptian glass were found in all parts of Plate XIX-XVI

the temple and made the subject of a special study by Miss G. Lehrer. There are over i so fragments from 50-6o core made vessels and also fragments from a flat, thick inlay piece. This group is of particular importance because of its closely dated context with XIXth and XXth Dynasty inscriptions. The following types could be identified : krateriskoi, lentoid and globular flasks, vessels with elongated body and rounded base (amphoriskoi?) and bowls. With the exception of four fragments of green glass, all the vessels have a background either of light blue, mainly an opaque sky-blue, or of dark blue in shades of cobalt or dark turquoise. The thread decorations of garlands or festoons, zig-zags and feather pattern are white, yellow and dark blue on the light blue backgrounds and white, yellow and light blue on the dark blue backgrounds, applied either in one colour, or a com-bination of two or three colours together. A common feature of these vessels is the twisted black and white strip applied on almost every rim and in several places also on the shoulder and lower parts. Several fragments of opaque light blue bowls have yellow thread applied on the rim. Fragments of green glass include a rounded base, part of a vessel with the double cartouche of Ramesses II, part of a bracelet with traces of an impressed pattern and a fragment possibly from the rim of a pomegranate bottle. This whole group belongs, from the point of view of typology and decoration, to the end of the XVIllth and to the XIXth Dynasties.

More than s000 beads, parts of necklaces, collars, pectorals and Plates XII, XIII, 98 bracelets, were found and studied by Mrs T. Kertesz. Many of the beads were made locally mainly as disc beads of mica schist, small pebbles and Red Sea shells, perforated and strung as necklaces. These beads were probably brought to the temple by local workers. The main body of beads brought from Egypt consisted of more than 2500 faience discs in blue, green, brown and white, some gadrooned and shaped to resemble the daisy flower. There were about one thousand short beads of faience, around one hundred made of carnelian or limestone, and some thirty of coloured glass. Many beads of standard circular shape were made of glazed faience or frit, limestone, carnelian or onyx. Most beautiful are the decorated glass beads made by the 'eye spot' technique: drops of yellow, brown and blue glass were inserted into the white or black matrix of the bead.

1 7 I

Timna The Hathor Temple at Timna

Sometimes a differently coloured ring was laid around the eye spot or stratified eyes were superimposed on top of each other. Other glass beads were made by the 'composite coil' technique : two differently coloured glass bands, white and black or white and red, were wound around the yellow or brown core of the bead. There were also many beads of long tubular or barrel shapes, made of faience, carnelian and glass. The long carnelian barrel beads, called in Egypt sweret beads, had special magic properties when worn on a thick, twisted cord close to the throat. Two beads of glass, so mm. long and 20 mm. wide, with multi-coloured glass thread wound around their bodies are the largest found in Timna. There were also faience amulets shaped like open lotus and papyrus flowers, a car-nelian pendant shaped as a lotus bud and numerous other pendants and amulets of haematite, mica, quartz, bone and gold leaf.

The whole group of Egyptian offerings found in the Hathor Temple of Timna shows strong similarities, even down to minor details, to the offerings found by Sir Flinders Petrie in the Hathor Temple of Serabit el-Khadem in Sinai. Added to which, inscriptions reading 'Flathor, Lady of the Turquoise' or . . beloved Lady of the Turquoise' on faience offerings found in Timna, the valley of the copper mines, being identical with inscriptions found at Serabit el-Khadem in the temple of the Egyptian turquoise miners, seem to indicate a central organization for the preparation and supply of the Egyptian mining expeditions into the desert.

Besides the beautifully decorated pottery of Midianite origin, very numerous votive gifts made of metal were not imports from Egypt. Whilst there is some evidence, such as the style of decoration, for a Midianite origin for some of the metal offerings we, nevertheless, have to rely in most instances on the non-Egyptian character of the finds as a pointer to their most probable, Midianite source. In many cases the metal objects are obviously locally made and in the light of the overall picture of the excavation one may relate them to the Midianites in certain instances and in others to the Amalekites, the contemporary inhabitants of the Central Negev Mountains and the Arabah. The fact that nothing like the metal offerings attributed to the Midianites was ever found in the Hathor Temple at Serabit el-Khadem, where similarly no Midianite pottery exists, seems a strong argument for the proposed ethnic identification. Yet, it must be said that a certain degree of reliance is placed on Biblical traditions relating to the Kenites-Midianites as the ancient metal-workers of the southernmost Arabah and in the area of the Red Sea. The majority of the Midianite temple offerings were locally made orimported copper-based metal objects, like jewellery and cosmetic equipment, figurines, and very few weapons and tools. A large number of fragments of metal objects have not yet been identified or explained. Much analytical work is still to be done on the metal finds from Timna.

The most significant and remarkable find, already mentioned above, was a lifelike copper serpent with a gilded head and a finely worked, smooth body, unearthed inside the naos and belonging to the final Iron Age I phase of its history. It is 12 cm. long and represents a colubrid snake of the racer type. Its gilded head is finely shaped and shows two large eyes.

A cast and finely polished copper figurine of a sheep (Ovis cries), about 4 cm. long and 2.5 cm. high, with heavy, twisted horns, was found. It had a hole through its neck and may have been an amulet. This little figurine is an exceptionally fine piece of metalwork.

More than one hundred copper rings were found, mainly from the last phase of the temple, in the copper hoard and in the 'refuse' pile unearthed next to wall I outside the temple court. Most of these are made of thin, narrow copper strips, bent into the shape of a ring and sometimes decorated with geometrical incisions resembling the decorations on the Midianite pottery. Other rings were made of copper wire, showing a round and/or rectangular profile.

Another typical votive gift is the ear-ring, present in many variations and sizes. Some are simply oval-shaped wires, open on one side, others are cast into shape with a slightly thicker lower part. Some have a small pendant attached, simply decorated by incised lines. One example, 6.2 cm. long and weighing 42 g., was not, of course, intended for actual wear in a human ear, but seems more suitable for the large cow ears of Hathor.

There were also numerous examples of toilet and make-up equipment such as spatulae of various sizes, decorated sometimes with an incised 'tree-of-life' or the five fingers of a 'hand'. The `hand' was a common decoration, probably with a magic intent, and it also occurred on small copper amulets made of thin sheet of copper. Toilet pins were made of round, square or rectangular copper wire, bent on one side into a loop-shaped handle. Very many twisted and bent wire-made objects were found, which may have been hooks or pins, perhaps used for strengthening or holding together the tent covers of the Midianite shrine. Many twisted wires were actually knots.

One very interesting copper object consisted of a square beam, 18 cm. long, with both ends shaped into a loop with a small ring on

55 Metal votive gifts from the temple: 1-4 Midianite decorations on copper rings; 5 Copper chain; 6, 7 Gilded copper ear-rings; 8 Large copper ear-ring (42 gr.)

each side. It could well be the beam of a balance and the chain frag-ments found in the temple may belong to it. There was only one spear-head and one arrowhead, the latter found on the surface of the site. Several copper ferrules with rivet holes, and some with the actual rivets still in place appear to have been attached to a handle, but no traces of the tools themselves were found.

Of considerable interest is the appearance of iron in a thirteenth-twelfth century BC context. Previously, in 1964, two iron bracelets had been unearthed in Site 2, Area F, but now there are in addition several well-made iron rings, one with clear remains of gilding. Iron was obviously still a rare material used only for jewellery.

The list of metal offerings ends with two unique figurines with human features. One is a 4 cm. high, primitively cast, copper figurine,


56 Balance beam with attached chain-link

57 Metal votive gifts: 8-to, 12 Make-op implements and spantlae; II Spearhead ( ?); 6-7 Copper amulets with 'hand' decoration

5 V 4


59 Iron rings and other iron objects

its short arms stretched forward and the upper part of its legs serving as the base of the figurine. There are no feet, but a phallus is indicated, and instead of a face two tiny notches indicate the eyes. The figurine appears to be sitting on a flat seat.

The second figurine represents a male with a rather emphasized phallus, a bearded, gross, face and primitively shaped arms and hands pressed against its sides. It has large ears and seems to wear some kind of head-dress. The features of this figurine are fairly well shaped but it was found 'as-cast', with the seams of the mould clearly visible. In fact, part of the mould was still stuck between its legs and it therefore seems obvious that the figurine was cast in Timna. No parallel to this figurine is known and it can only be suggested that it is perhaps a magic fertility symbol, or god, of non-Egyptian origin.

Besides the large number of votive artifacts brought to the temple as offerings to Hathor, numerous strange and curious objects were found in the temple which evidently had caught the imagination of the miners and were therefore brought as gifts to the mining goddess. Mention has already been made of the large number of perforated shells found used as beads, which were most probably brought to the temple by the Midianites, the inhabitants of the Red Sea coast. Many more beautiful shells and sea-stars, pieces of coral and strangely shaped pebbles and stones were found in the temple, some resembling mother-and-child figurines or large breasted women. There were also very many fossils, still to be found plentifully in the Middle White horizon of Timna, which looked like female figures and were also brought as offerings. A number of very rough copper casting waste pieces in the shape of animals were also offered as gifts to Hathor, though it is quite possible that some of these objects, such as a four-legged animal or a horse-and-rider, were actually the results of intentional primitive castings.

A considerable quantity of bone fragments was found, mainly around the mazzeboth. Conspicuously there were only young goats, which could well be remains of votive sacrifices.

The Hathor Temple at Timna A Nabataean casting installation in the Temple Court

Many hundreds of years after the abandonment of the Hathor Temple, in the Roman period, when the temple site had turned into a low hillock of sand with several huge sandstone boulders which had fallen down from the mountain above lying on top of its north-western corner, a small group of apparently Nabataean metalworkers

came to the site. The upper part of wall t and some of the eastern end Fig. 6o

of wall 2 was then still above ground and they swept away the debris from Loci 109 and Ito and settled into the cleared space. During this clearing operation the newcomers reached the previous white floor and also the remains of the naos. One of the results of this was an accumulation of debris in Locus tot mixed with a large number of the small finds, described above, from the previous temple. Another result was a mixed layer of finds on the white floor, including Nabataean-Roman sherds together with cartouches of the Ramesside period and many other Egyptian and Midianite gifts.

In Locus 109 a crucible melting furnace was constructed of white Plate 71

sandstone, taken from the debris of the temple. It was a square structure, 8o x 8o cm., containing a small hearth, 3o x 3o cm., open to the east. The furnace bottom and part of its structure were found in situ in the excavation. A pit, perhaps for charcoal, was found next to the furnace. A second fireplace, probably also a crucible melting furnace, was found next to wall 2 within a very thick layer of wood ash. In fact, a 2o-3o cm. thick layer of wood ash was piled into the corner of walls t and 2 and covered most of Locus 109 up to wall 5. Wall 5 was constructed from previous temple building stones and the basin of soft white sandstone was re-used here. In the corner of walls 5 and t a very interesting store of goods was found, obviously put there by the Nabataean metalworkers: about so kg. of very rich copper ore nodules and numerous pieces of fossilized tree (iron oxide flux), mixed in complete disorder with many fragments of copper implements as well as broken and complete copper rings and copper wire, and copper pellets extracted from slag heaps somewhere in Timna. Ore and flux were not used at the temple site itself, as no evidence of smelting was found there, and it must be assumed that it was only collected by the Nabataean metallurgists and stored to be transported to a smelter elsewhere. The metallic copper, however, was melted in the crucible furnaces found in the temple court and cast into objects or ingots. Several fragments of slagged crucible fragments, as well as some casting slag, were found in Locus 109.

It is interesting to notice that there were no votive gifts amongst the copper objects collected by the Nabataean metalworkers for re-

Timna The Hathor Temple at Timna

smelting, only plain copper objects. The votive objects were dis-carded, either simply thrown over the wall or collected and hidden outside of wall where the hoard was found at the beginning of the excavations. Whether the Nabataeans did so out of veneration for the ancient temple or for other reasons is a matter of conjecture, but the fact as such is worthy of note.

Greenish and light brown glass fragments from small bottles were found together with Nabataean-Roman pottery. They are free blown and, in one case, mould blown with a ribbed pattern. These glass bottles date to the first century A D. A fair quantity of Nabataean Roman pottery from the site included decorated oil lamps, juglets, jar fragments, a cup, piriform unguentaria and several shallow bowls. Some of these sherds were also found in Locus it I, above a layer of debris and wind-borne fill. No sherds of the period were found anywhere in the temple except in the area used by the Nabataean metalworkers, i.e. Loci 109, 110, 1, and also an. The Nabataean pottery, found also in the waste from the melting furnaces, dates from the first century AD.

The Nabataean casting installation at Site zoo, was not an impor-tant industrial undertaking but rather a temporary establishment for the exploitation of the large Egyptian slag heaps in the Timna valley. The Roman copper industries of the Arabah are described pp. zo8 ff.

61 Nabataean-Roman pottery of the first century AD from the temple site


The Hathor Temple and its Implications

The discovery at Timna of a temple dedicated to Hathor and dated by inscriptions to the XiXtli and XXth Dynasties of Egypt, together with the fact that the pottery found in this temple is the same as the pottery found in the excavation of Site 2 and on the surface of all Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age sites in the Arabah, finally ended the protracted discussions about the date and originators of the Timna copper industries. We know today that the Timna copper mines and all contemporary copper mines on the west side of the Arabah and in the Mountains of Elat belong to the period between the end of the fourteenth century is c and the middle of the twelfth century BC and were operated by Pharaonic expeditions of the XIXth to XXth Dynasties.

There is no evidence whatsoever of any copper mining or smelting activities in the western Arabah later than the twelfth century BC until the renewal of the industry in the Roman period. There is no factual and, as a matter of fact, no ancient written literary evidence of the existence of 'King Solomon's Mines'. More so, the negative results of the Timna excavations as far as the 'Mines' are concerned, are well corroborated by Chronicles 1 22:3; 'And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight and Chronicles I 18: 8 ; 'Likewise from Tibhath, and from Chun, cities of Hadarezer [King of Zobah], brought David very much brass, wherewith Solomon made the brazen sea, and the pillars and the vessel of brass .

Amalekite settlements in the Negev

The absolute dates now available for the three kinds of pottery found in the temple help us to date many important sites in the Central Negev and the Arabah, in Edom and especially in 'the Land of Midian'. In the Central Negev, in the area south of the Jeruham valley and north of the Makhtesh Ramon, there existed numerous settlements based on dry farming in terraced wadi beds and the use of cisterns and run-off rain water for irrigation. These settlements


The Hathor Temple and its Implications

and the casemate fortlets attached were generally identified as `Israelite settlements' because Iron Age pottery was found amongst the ruins, including much of the unique primitive, hand-made, Negev-type pottery. Biblical associations rather than stratified archaeological evidence seem to have led to the dating of these settlements to the tenth to eighth centuries BC and their relation to the Judaean Kingdom. Continuous study of these settlements, their unique irrigation technology and pottery, had related the sedentary civilization of the Negev to the Amalekite tribes, mentioned in the Bible as the inhabitants of the Negev Mountains at least as early as the thirteenth century and down to the eighth century BC. Yet, the fact that in many of these settlements only Negev-type pottery was found, made the dating rather uncertain. Now, with the discovery of the Timna Temple, we have indisputable evidence that Negev-type pottery was made as early as the late fourteenth century BC and was in use for a very long period afterwards. The peculiar pottery-making tradition in the Negev, which could not possibly have originated in Judaean times and never occurs anywhere in Judah itself, would therefore exclude any possible identification of the Negev settlements as Israelite. Although not enough archaeo-logical evidence exists so far for the accurate dating of these settlements, the Timna Temple finds strongly corroborate the view that many of the agricultural settlements and hill fortresses in the Central Negev predate the Israelite conquest of Palestine and already existed as fortified Amalekite villages at the time of the ExiNius. It therefore seems plausible to conclude that some of the battles between the Israelite tribes on their way to the Promised Land and the Amalekites, their arch enemies, must have taken place around these settlements and fortresses. It appears also most likely that the destruction of many of the fortresses and settlements was actually caused by the continuous struggle carried on during most of the Kingdom of Israel between Amalekites and Israelites. Amalekites were still reported as settlers in the Negev Mountains as late as the time of Hezekiah, King of Judah. In Chronicles I 4: 42-43 we find the latest date for Amalekite habitation in the Negev given as the end of the eighth century BC, whilst the Negev-type pottery found in the Timna Temple strongly suggests the existence of a sedentary civiliza-tion in the Central Negev at the end of the fourteenth and continuing well into the twelfth centuries R c. This latter conclusion is also based on the archaeological evidence of a direct connection between Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age I Timna and the contemporary settle-ments in the Negev Mountains. Some small copper smelting sites


with Negev pottery only were found along the paths leading from Timna through the southern Negev Mountains towards Makhtesh Ramon, as for instance Site 229. The copper ore for these smelters could only have come from Timna and the assumption is that it was carried north by workers of the Egyptian copper mines on their way home.

date for Midian's towns

Other new aspects of chronology and of historical interpretation are provided by the absolute dating at Timna of the decorated Midianite pottery. This pottery had previously been found by the expedition in the smelting camps of the western Arabah and on the island of Jezirat Fara'un in the Red Sea. Prior to this some sherds of this ware had been found by N. Glueck during his survey of the eastern Arabah and Edom and called 'Edomite' ware. In 1935 Glueck dated this pottery correctly to the thirteenth to twelfth centuries se. Yet, until it appeared in stratified and absolutely dated contexts in the Timna excavations, it could not be dated with any certainty and its origin also remained a matter of conjecture. Today the Timna types of Midianite ware are dated to the fourteenth to twelfth centuries c and there is good archaeological evidence for its origin in north-west Arabia, in the area of Midian. Indeed, the survey report of Midian published in 197o describes the site of a kiln at Qurayyah where this decorated pottery was actually produced and a Late Bronze Age date for at least some of it was correctly suggested by Peter Parr. At Qurayyah a whole sequence of decorated ware was found ; some of it seems earlier than the Timna ware, other pieces seem later, but there can be no doubt that the Timna ware is fully represented at Qurayyah. Although the results of comparative analyses of the Qurayyah and Timna pottery are still awaited, it may confidently be said that the Timna pottery originates from Midian and provides the first certain absolute dates for the ancient town sites of Midian, where this pottery is to be found.

Vlidianite partnership at Timna

The appearance of pottery of clearly non-local origin does not of course imply automatically the appearance of foreign people and it is quite possible that it was commercially imported. However, this issue should be considered within the context of all objects found in the temple, including its architecture and furnishings and, not least, the overall picture of the Timna sites. It would be unreasonable


to doubt that Midianites actually worked and worshipped in Timna. There was no Midianite pottery in the earliest, initial phase of the temple and it seems plausible to assume that at the very beginning of Egyptian copper mining in Timna the Midianites were not yet wor-king there, while the Amalekites from the Negev were already present. Perhaps this fact explains the differences between Sites 3o and 34, located opposite the temple in Nahal Nehushtan and defended by a strong wall, and the other sites of Timna which had no defensive wall.

Whereas at Site 3o no Midianite ware was found (but there was an early stage of metallurgy, known to us from fifteenth to fourteenth century Egyptian smelters of Bir Nasib in Sinai) and very little Midianite pottery was located at Site 34, a large quantity of Midianite ware was found at the unwalled sites of Timna and also in the excavation of Site 2 where it appears from the very beginning and in all levels of the smelting camp. We may perhaps see here a repetition of the story of the Egyptian mines in Sinai where, after obvious conditions of enmity at the beginning of mining in the Wadi Maghara with defensive walls put up around the miners' camps and even a stronghold in the centre of the valley, the Egyptians, after initial setbacks, reached a peaceful working agreement with the local Semitic tribes, and defensive measures were no longer needed. In Timna, according to the evidence in the temple, the Midianites and the Amalekites, the indigenous inhabitants of the area, seem to have become some kind of 'partners' not only at work but also iii the worship of Hathor.

The problem of the Kenites

We have no way of telling from the archaeological evidence found at Timna whether or not the Kenites, traditionally the ancient metal-workers of the Arabah, played an active role in the Timna copper works, but it seems likely. According to Samuel 1 15: 5-6 the Kenites were at times connected with the Amalekite Negev settlements and such a connection is also strongly suggested by the Negev ware at Timna. On the other hand, the Kenites are also identified as a clan or tribe of the Midianites and it may be the Kenites-Midianites of this Biblical tradition who made their appearance in Timna. It has already been suggested in the past that Jethro, the Kenite-Midianite father-in-law of Moses, had taught Moses to fashion the Nehushtan, the magic copper serpent, and the Midianite gilded copper snake in the shrine of the Timna Temple in its last, Midianite phase, seems to furnish a factual background for this tradition.



A Midianite tented shrine and the Tabernacle

The votive copper snake of Timna is only a part of the Midianite cult represented in the temple. Indeed, it is the first time that Midianite civilization and worship has come to light in the form of temple architecture and of a variety of votive objects and offerings. The study of the religious and cultural implications and connections of the Timna Temple finds is only at its beginning, but already at this stage of enquiry these implications seem important for the under-standing of the formative phase of Israel. The last phase of the Hathor Temple of Timna, which seems to have been a tent-shrine, was a Midianite place of worship and this suggests a possible connec-tion not only of the Midianite cult of the copper snake, found in this shrine, with the Nehushtan of the Exodus, but also with the actual tent-shrine of Israel's desert wanderings, the 'tent of meeting', the Tabernacle.

In the light of the Timna discoveries, it seems at least plausible to consider the tented-shrine, the Ohel Mo'ed, of Israel's nomadic desert faith to be somehow connected with the relationship between Moses and Jethro, who was not only a priest (Exodus 3 : 1) and advisor of Moses (Exodus 18:13-27) but also performed sacrifices and took part in a sacred meal 'before Yahweh' (Exodus 18:12). We recall here the view, voiced by some Biblical scholars, that the cult of Yahweh, at this stage intrinsically the invisible Yahweh who 'tented' among his people and whose proper dwelling was a tent, may have been of Kenite-Midianite origin. In this connection it seems relevant to recall also the obvious anti-Hathor practice of the builders of the tented shrine at Timna, though the defacing of Hathor and the destruction of the Egyptian monuments may also be otherwise explainable.

Timna and the Exodus

Whatever theological implications one attaches to the Midianite shrine, the discoveries at Timna provide a factual, cultural and historico-geographical background to the early desert part of the Exodus narrative. Yet, the presence here of Egyptians and Midianites in the thirteenth century, generally accepted as the period of the Exodus, is of course of great significance and raises many problems. There seems to be little doubt that the actual existence of a large scale Pharaonic industrial enterprise in the Arabah during the fourteenth to twelfth centuries BC will require reconsideration of the factual foundations of current Bible interpretations and historical concepts regarding the Exodus.


The Hathor Temple and its Implications

Jezirat Fara'un - an Egyptian mining port?

The Timna discoveries may also help to throw light on the highly

Plate 63 interesting remains on the island and in the bay of Jezirat Fara'un, located in the Gulf of Elat, some 4 km. south of Taba. This island was called variously 'Ile de Graye', 'el Qureiye', 'el Deir', 'el Kasr hadid', `Emrag', and recently the 'Coral Island'. It was first described by E. Riippel in 1829 and has since been repeatedly visited by travellers, geographers and archaeologists who dated the remains on the island as Byzantine, medieval Arabic or Crusader. Only C. L. Woolley and T. E. Lawrence noticed that 'all round the shore at sea level are to be seen the remains of a wall built of rough masonry about 4 feet thick, entirely destroyed down to the level of the beach'. Yet, Woolley and Lawrence refrained from dating this 'first wall' of the island.

In 1956-57 the author investigated the island, together with

Fig. 63 A. Hashimshoni, and published a modern survey plan of most of its remains. The island is 320 m. long, its maximum width is 15o m. and the straits separating it from the mainland are only about 275 m. wide. Its most conspicuous ruins are the remains of the medieval castle, located on three steep granite hills. Detailed descriptions of these ruins and other features of the island have been published in

God's Wilderness, Discoveries in Sinai and in Negev and need not be repeated here. The remains relevant to this chapter are located on the shore-line around the island and were identified as casemate walls of cyclopean character. In this wall traces of defensive towers, projecting out into the sea, are discernible. There are also foundations of houses (Area H) at ground level on the island, and a small harbour with its entrance facing the mainland.

At the time of the first investigations on the island in 1956-57 we collected some pottery which was mainly Roman-Byzantine and medieval Arabic. There was also some rough and some decorated pottery which at first seemed chronologically unrelated, but in 1961, after the first Timna survey, it was identified as Early Iron Age I pottery. It was clearly the same Midianite (called at the time `Edom-ite) and Negev-type ware which had been found in the Timna smelting camps. Some of the sherds, especially fragments of a cooking pot, could also belong to Iron Age II. In the light of these pottery dates proposed at the time, and in detail in Negev, the following working hypothesis on the history of the island was put forward: the earliest remains at the site, which consist of the case-mate wall, the harbour wall and dwellings in Area H, and remains of a landing pier on the mainland opposite, date to the Early Iron Age I prior to the United Monarchy of Israel, with a possible use also in the tenth to eighth centuries BC. All other remains relate to the Nabataean, Byzantine and Mameluke occupation of the island. Furthermore, in view of these dates and the fact that the island is the only natural anchorage in the northern part of the Gulfof Elat-Aqaba, it seemed logical to look here not only for a harbour of the period before David's conquest of the area, but also for the port used by Israel's kings. In other words, it was proposed at the time to identify the island ofJezirat Fara'un with the Biblical harbour of Ezion Geber.

With the new evidence from the Timna Temple relating the copper mining activities of the Late Bronze Age-Early Iron Age I to the Ramesside pharaohs, and taking into consideration the Papyrus Harris I report of the existence of a regular shipping route to Atika and its identification with the Arabah mines, we now propose to identify early Jezirat Fara'un as a Pharaonic mining harbour. This Egyptian mining port would later be the obvious anchorage for King Solomon's Tarshish ships as it was the main and probably only safe port of the northern Red Sea during all sub-sequent ancient periods.

Since 1967 the expedition has re-investigated the island of Jezirat Fara'un and a large amount of pottery was collected there. These

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investigations and the finds on the island confirmed once more the dates previously proposed, including the existence of fourteenth to twelfth century BC Negev and Midianite ware. It became in-creasingly clear that only systematic excavation of a large part of the island would archaeologically justify the detailed dating of the individual structures on the island. More small finds were found, including medieval Arabic inscriptions and, on the western slope of hill A, remains of a small metallurgical installation and a quantity of fayalite slag, evidence for small-scale iron smelting activities on the island. This may explain one of the island's Arabic names - 'el Kasr hadid', the Iron Castle - though this may well be a poetic conno-tation of a highly romantic site.

Whilst this chapter was being written, Alexander Flinder, architect and undersea explorer, sent a short report on his investigations of Jezirat Fara'un which contains many details of considerable interest. With his kind permission it is included here:

'In the autumn of 1967 I joined Dr Elisha Linder and a small group of divers from the Undersea Exploration Society of Israel on a short reconnaissance of the undersea terrain around the island of Jezirat Fara'un in the Gulf of Eilat. In the following year I returned to lead a combined Anglo-Israeli group in a systematic search of the sea-bed and of the shores of the island, and the mainland.

'Although our undersea discoveries were rewarding - a large group of Byzantine period amphorae, and basalt grinding mills; it was as an architect that I was drawn to examining the intriguing remains of buildings and structures on the island itself. These have been described by Dr Beno Rothenberg in his books, God's Wilder-ness and Negev - the twelfth century Moslem palace on the highest of the island's three hills, the Byzantine buildings on the southern and lower hill, the remains of the casemate wall which circumscribes the perimeter of the island, and the small harbour nestling in the hollow between the two hills.

`I concentrated on the casemate wall and the harbour, and as my sketches and measurements developed I became increasingly aware of the subtle reasoning that went into the design of what must have been a splendid example of ancient marine-defence building. The wall comprises an outer skin facing the sea, formed of cyclopic fashioned stone blocks, the largest being nearly two metres long by one metre thick. There is then an inner skin formed of smaller blocks and about so cm. thick. This runs parallel with, and 2-3o metres away from, the outer skin, and this space is filled with con-crete rubble. Thus the total thickness of the compound wall is


nearly four metres. The casemate part of the wall is formed by cross walls coming out at right angles from the inner skin at regular intervals, and the 'rooms' formed by these and the innermost wall measure in excess of three metres by two metres each. The overall thickness of the wall with its inner casemate rooms is over six and a half metres. A truly mighty structure built to withstand the fury of the violent storms that can develop so rapidly in this short strip of the Great Rift Valley. The length of this wall is about 9o0 metres and is interrupted at more or less regular intervals along its perimeter by seven square towers which project out into the sea. It appears to be perforated in only two places:— in the north-west, where the narrow breach has an appearance of a slipway, and at the entrance to the harbour in the south-west. I was most fascinated by this harbour, because it is quite clear that its entrance and the casemate wall are integral and were constructed at the same time.

'Standing on the peak of the southern hill, one is able to look down on the island below and absorb the scope of this magnificent maritime installation - the thick casemate wall with its towers, curving round to embrace and enclose the small harbour; its one entrance leading from the narrow straits which separate the island from the mainland. In my view it is this slim stretch of sea that holds the key to the whole history of the development of Jezirat Fara'un ; for here we have an anchorage, the best natural haven for ships in the northern half of the Gulf.

'I had occasion to return to the island recently in the middle of a violent storm. Hailstones spat down from a black sky and the sea was turbulant - except for the anchorage which was comparatively still especially close to the island where the surface was scarcely ruffled. Sir Richard Burton and Lt. Wellstead in the nineteenth century both testified to the effectiveness of this anchorage.

'The construction of a small protected harbour leading from the stillest part of the anchorage was a logical development; here then we have a natural anchorage a few miles from the northernmost tip of the gulf. An island beside the anchorage, protected by an im-pregnable wall - and harbouring within its defences yet a further shelter for boats. The seas around the island - a perfect moat! What a superb arrangement I thought! and yet something appeared to be missing - where and how did the island relate to the mainland. There must have existed a ferry, a means of crossing from the mainland to the island, and therefore somewhere on the beaches of the mainland we should find some evidence of this. We searched in vain, and had virtually given up hope, when one day a lucky combination ofa very


low tide and an exceptionally calm sea revealed to us a perfect stone jetty fifteen metres long by six metres wide. It was just where it should be - directly opposite and the shortest distance from the harbour entrance.

`The harbour itself is extremely interesting. I had initially con-sidered it to be rock-cut, but I now suspect that this is not so. I am inclined to think that it was originally a small open bay with a sand beach. The harbour was formed by enclosing this bay with a break-water built across its open side. A defensive casemate wall was built on the breakwater and a narrow entrance left at one end. The entrance appears to have been partially filled in with rubble during a later period but the south flank of the entrance is clearly indicated by a return wall of large stone blocks which itself forms the side of a square tower of similar proportion to the other towers. The north side of the entrance is, however, not a repetition of the south, for instead of the right-angled edge of a tower, we see what appears to be the foundation of a wall gently curving into the harbour. This wall commences. at the area of exceptionally calm water that I have described previously. The design permitted boats to be manoeuvred gently into the harbour from the anchorage and vice-versa, and this delightfully thought out detail was supplemented by two stone built piers in the sea just in line with the entrance. These piers, some-times known as 'dolphins', would assist boats coming in from the south and the open sea to make fast before being manhandled into the harbour. They are now only visible under the sea.

`Conclusive dating of these absorbing structures must be awaited but of one fact I am certain :—the men who conceived the defensive wall and harbour of Jezirat Fara'un were men of the sea, and the most skilled of masterbuilders.'

Alexander Flinder's report of his investigation on the island and in the sea around it added. many important details and new maritime aspects to our previous picture of Jezirat Fara'un, the 'Island of the Pharaohs'. Unfortunately, the investigations of his team, underwater and also on land, seems to have, been inconclusive as far as the date of the casemate wall and harbour is concerned and systematic excavation on the island is still required. Although we still believe that the cyclopean casemate wall along the shore line and the harbour belongs to the earliest constructional phase of the island's defences it is, of course, possible that the earliest period of occupation of Jezirat Fara'un, testified by pottery and other finds, could pre-date the earliest structures on the island. There was no need for such

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