History of Research | Renewed Investigation

Site 3 is a copper smelting and logistics camp, located in the heart of the Timna Valley. The site is currently under investigation by CTV and is the subject of the MA thesis of Tel Aviv University student, Omri Yagel, supervised by Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef.

History of Research

The camp was first documented by the German scholar Fritz Frank during his early 1930's visit to the valley. Shortly after Frank's discovery, the site was surveyed by Nelson Glueck, who considered the site to be a part of a unified copper industry dated to the times of King Solomon and the early Judean kings (10th-6th centuries B.C.E). As the Arabah Expedition began its large scale surveying project under Beno Rothenberg, Site 3 was resurveyed and was identified as a unique site, showing not only smelting remains, but also structures and artifacts related to logistics and administration. As the entire chronological frame of the Timna copper industry shifted, following the discovery of the Egyptian shrine (Site 200), so did the dating of Site 3.

Two major stone complexes (known as structures 1, 2) were identified by Rothenberg at Site 3. The major structures led Rothenberg to claim the sites nature as mainly logistical, rather than metallurgical. In order to clarify the true nature (and chronological sequence) of Site 3, the Arabah Expedition embarked on an excavation project at Structure 1 (the sites largest structure). The expedition excavated the site for two field seasons (1979, 1984). The first excavation was directed by Benno Rothenberg and supervised by Paul Craddock. The season’s focus was the westernmost part of the structure, believed to represent the earliest phase. The second season was directed by Benno Rothenberg and supervised by Andrea Kurlis. This season was focused at the structures southern section. Unfortunately, no results were ever published and the material from the excavations was never fully analyzed.

Aerial view of Structure 1, Site 3 excavated by the Arabah Expedition

Renewed Investigation

Due to its prime position in the heart of the industry, the site's potential unique logistical characteristics and its deviation from the massive Iron Age sites 30 and 34, Site 3 is considered by the CTV Project as a key site. During 2014, a digital mapping survey was conducted at the site. This was accompanied by an effort to locate and uncover all of the previously excavated material and documentation from Site 3, along with all the field notes taken by the supervisors and Rothenberg himself.

Site 3 situated centrally in the Timna Valley and copper production activity


As the collection of material has come to an end, we are now in the phase of processing all the data and preparing the site for publication. Primary results prove that the site was indeed active during the Late-Bronze Age. Coinciding with Tali Gini-Erikson's results from excavations at Site 2 (also active during the Late-Bronze), it is now certain that a Late-Bronze, Egyptian controlled industry, was indeed active in Timna.



Intra-site analysis of the assemblage from Site 3 compared to the Iron-Age assemblages of Sites 30 and 34 enabled us to clarify some of the changes throughout time and allowed us to better understand the socio-political and economical dynamics (identity of ruling entity, identity of workers, social organization and trade routes) in the Southern Arabah before and during the collapse of the Egypto-Canaanite system of city states in the Levant.