The rift valley of the Wadi Arabah divides a copper ore district, which has been mined from the proto- and pre-historic periods until modern times. In the hopes of economic reward, the area has been prospected until the very recent past. The most important source of the ore mineralizations in the western area are in Timna, roughly 30 km north of modern Eilat. The main source of copper ores on the eastern side of Wadi Arabah is Faynan, ca. 80 km south of the Dead Sea. Further south, in the Wadi Abu Khusheibah and in the Wadi Abu Qurdiyah, minor ore deposits have also been found (Fig. 1.1). One aspect of Wadi Arabah is its function as a bridge connecting five geographical as well as culturally very diverse, but nonetheless closely connected regions: Israel (the ancient Canaan), Jordan (the ancient kingdoms of Edomite and Moab), Hijaz (the ancient Midian), and finally Sinai. Another aspect of the Wadi Arabah and the rift valley further north is their role as an outstanding trade route connecting the Southern Levant with Lebanon, Syria and even Anatolia. Many — altogethersome hundreds — of the settlement remains on both sides of Wadi Arabah (Thompson 1975; Raikes 1980; MacDonald 1992) have direct connections with the ore deposits and bear witness to the extensive ore- and metal trade in the (pre-)historic periods of this region.
KeywordsRift Valley Metal Trade Ancient Kingdom Ancient Copper Mining
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