History of Research | Renewed Investigation


Site 15 is a copper smelting camp located in the Southern Arabah within the Timna Valley (N 410868.769 E 195606.079 ITM). Some 27 stone features were identified at Site 15, within a large 110X110 meter quadrangular area. Most features appear to be very well preserved and some of the walls still stand about 0.5-1 meters tall. The camp lies in a small valley between low hillocks (6-7 meters high), with the exception of two features, which lies on top of a nearby hillock, overseeing the rest of the camp. The camp is not surrounded by any protective measures (natural or manmade), and is very easily accessible from all directions. About 15 slag accumulations were identified in Site 15 with roughly half of all slag accumulations in the camp located in the vicinity of the stone features. However, a large accumulation of slag, accompanied by a large number of tuyere fragments is found just north of the camp somewhat removed from the main concentration of structures.

History of Research

The camp was first noted by Fritz Frank (1934) and was dated by Nelson Glueck (1934) to the Iron Age on the basis of ceramic typology. Glueck also assigned the industry to King Solomon and the early Judean kings. The site was resurveyed and numbered by Rothenberg's 'Arabah Expedition' during its primary survey in 1959-1961. In the late 1960's, Rothenberg suggested a new chronological framework, according to which the majority of Timna's copper camps, including Site 15, should be dated to the Late Bronze Age (19th-20th Egyptian Dynasties). Following the new excavations at Site 30 (conducted by Erez Ben-Yosef, with the support of UCSD's ELRAP expedition) that demonstrated a peak in production during the Iron Age, Ben-Yosef has proposed yet again to consider an Iron Age date for the majority of copper production sites in the valley (including Site 15).


Fig. 18. (above) Timna Site 15 as documented by N. Glueck (1935)


Renewed Investigation

     As the primary season of the Central Timna Valley (CTV) project (CTV 2013) has shown, the main phase of copper smelting witnessed within the Timna Valley indeed belongs to the Iron Age; however, the Egyptian shrine (Site 200), and 14C results from the renewed excavations at the Mushroom Site (Site 2) (conducted by Tali Gini-Erikson and the Israel Antiquity Authority), have shown that copper smelting activity does take place in Timna during the Late Bronze Age. Thus, the CTV Project has embarked on a research project aimed at identifying and characterizing the LB sites in Timna. Using archival material (including unpublished excavations of the Arabah Expedition, at Site 3 (1979, 1984), the CTV Project has managed to firmly date Site 3 to the LB, and a working hypothesis (claiming sites 2, 3, 13, 14, 15 to be active during the LB) was established. Excavations at Site 15 were conducted in order to better understand the chronological frame of the main industrial phase and to shed new light (i.e. technology, architecture, surrounding, cultural structure, etc.) on the LB period in Timna.  

2015 High resolution survey of Site 15


The Site 15 2015 excavations (Areas A, B, C, M) were undertaken as part of the joint effort of the CTV Project, led by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef, with a license provided by the Israeli Antiquity Authority (G-7/2015 Renewed from G-4/2014). The excavations were conducted between 26 Jan-19 Feb 2015 under the supervision of Mark Cavanagh and Omri Yagel. The Site 15 team included three students from Tel-Aviv University (Arie Shaus, Shirad Galmor, Yafit Kedar) and six volunteers (Vanessa Linares, Yitzhak Vassal, Donald Martin, Christopher Wilson, Laura Zucconi, Hai Ashkenazi, Astrid Hasday, Sharon Hasday, Asaf  Levi).

Bronze needle found during excavation

Large mass of textile found at Site 15