Wadi al-Arab

The scheme of the underground developments within the Timna river valley
The scheme of the underground developments within the Timna river valley:
1 - the direction of the penetration;
2 - the supposed direction of the penetration;
3 - the direction for the conducting of the clearing works;
4 - the original boundary of the clearing excavation;
5 - the vertical shafts;
6 - the exit onto the surface.

WADI AL-ARAB (RU: Вади-эль-Араба) are the ancient copper mines near the Gulf of Aqaba, of the Red Sea; they are known also under the "King Solomon's Mines" name. The area is up to 400 square kilometres. The major type of the mineralization is the cupriferous sandstones. There have been recorded approximately 3000 ancient developments. There has been dated only the very small part: the most early of the developments belong to the Copper Age (the 4th millennium B.C.), the latest developments belong to the start of our era (the period of the Roman domination).

The maximal activity of the operation was noted during the period of the New Kingdom of the Ancient Egypt (the 14-11 centuries B.C.). There have been researched most thoroughly the mines within the Timna river valley (the Southern Israel) within the western part of the Wadi al-Arab (the Figure # 1). The major types of the mine workings are shafts, drifts, and adits. The maximal depth of the underground mines is 36 metres, the length of the drifts is up to 50 metres and more. The cross section of the mine workings is prevalently oval or round. Within the places, where the thickness of the ore bodies increased, the mine workings noticeably expanded, and were forming the chambers. They broke the ore with the stone hammers, and later with the iron hammers and chisels. The roof support of the mine workings was performed mostly with the help of the stone "virgin pillars", the lifting of the ore onto the surface was performed along the stairs-ledges, which were carved into the walls of the underground mines, or with the help of the wooden winches-hoists, within the wooden buckets, or within the leather bags.

The mouth of the ancient underground mineThere have been found also the stone platforms, and the rubbing stones, for the "dry" beneficiation of the ores.There are known the copper smelters, with the metallurgical furnaces, and with the slag waste dumps. The total quantity of the ore, which has been extracted, and of the copper, which has been smelted from the ore, have not been estimated yet. The Wadi al-Arab mines have been discovered during the 1845. The archaeological-geological researches were conducted mostly after the 1959.