Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies


Timna Conference Review

2 May 2013

A tremendously successful international conference entitled Mining for Copper: Environment, Culture and Copper in Antiquity was held last week in at Timna Park in southern Israel.

Wadi Faynan Fortress

The event was held in memory of the late Professor Beno Rothenberg who passed away last year at the age of 98. He was being honoured for his years of dedication to the nascent discipline of archaeometallurgy, a term he himself coined. The congress was fittingly held in Timna Valley where he discovered the world of ancient metallurgy and conducted his most influencial work. He was, of course, also the founder of our own Institute of Archaeo-metallurgical Studies and the driving force behind much of the research and projects it undertook over the last four decades.

Erez at Timna Site 34

The conference program involved more than 80 scholars from more than 14 countries giving some 55 papers and 5 posters on various subjects relating to ancient copper metallurgy. The papers included presentations from some of the most illustruous scholars in the field as well as early career researchers, all of which proved to be quite fascinating. Particularly stimulating were a number of papers discussing the dating of the Timna copper exploitation and the role the site played in the greater regional context.

Yet this busy schedule somehow managed to find enough time to fit field excursions to Timna Park, Nahal Amram, as well as Wadi Faynan in neighbouring Jordan, all of which were directed by local experts. Special highlights included mine shaft explorations, Bedoin-led cross-country adventures, and Khirbat en-Nahas, an Iron Age fortress set amidst an industrial copper smelting landscape in Jordan's Edom region.

Uzi Avner discussing a mine shaft in Nahal Amram

IAMS would like to congratulate two researchers in particular whom it funded to attend the conference: Marcin Czarnowicz from Jagiellonian University in Krakow who gave a talk entitled "The role of copper tools in early Egyptian Society: The case study of Tell el-Farkha copper objects assemblage" and Markos Vaxevanopoulos of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece who presented a paper entitled "Ancient mining in goldsilver- copper deposits and metallurgical activity in Mavrokorfi area, Pangaeon mount (NE Greece)".

And lastly, we would like to thank the organisers for hosting the event. Special praise goes to Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef for his arduous work herding the distracted flock of academics. A task which in the end robbed him even of his voice!

Although we wish that Beno could have been there himself to see the fruits of his decades of labours, we hope that this conference was a fitting testament to his lasting influence on the field of archaeometallurgy.