Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies


Beno Rothenberg memorial lecture 2017: King Solomon's mines reconsidered: Recent discoveries of the Central Timna Valley Project

26 September 2017

IAMS is pleased to invite you to the 2017 Professor Beno Rothenberg Memorial Lecture, which will take place UCL Institute of Archaeology on Thursday 9th of November at 6pm.

Rothenberg memorial 2017

The lecture, entitled "King Solomon's mines reconsidered: Recent discoveries of the Central Timna Valley Project" will be delivered by professor Erez Ben-Yosef from Tel Aviv University and will be followed by a wine reception in the Leventis Gallery.  

The Beno Rothenberg Memorial Lecture is a high-profile event organised by the Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies to celebrate the memory of a true pioneer. Please see below for further information on Professor Beno Rothenberg, the speaker, the lecture, and the venue.

The Timna Valley in southern Israel is one of the best-preserved ancient copper ore districts in the world. More than six millennia of copper mining and smelting are represented in the archaeology of the valley, which luckily was almost unharmed by modern exploitation. Until Beno Rothenberg's systematic research in the 1960s, Timna mines were considered the source of wealth of King Solomon, whose father David is depicted in the Old Testament as the one who conquered the region and subjugated its inhabitants. However, Rothenberg's discovery of the Hathor Temple resulted in a revised dating of the main production sites to the time of New Kingdom Egypt. The connection to Egypt was accepted by all scholars up until recently, when the results of the new project of Tel Aviv University, based on dozens of new radiocarbon dates from various sites, overturned the chronology of the mines once again. It is now evident that copper production peaked in the 10th century BCE, the time of the United Monarchy in Jerusalem; the question of "Solomon's Mines" is once again part of the scholarly discussion.

The new project's emphasis on chronology has enabled the study of social and technological processes in a high time resolution (1300-800 BCE). This study is based on new materials from excavations and surveys, including a unique collection of textiles and other rarely preserved organic remains, which reveal aspects of ancient life that are usually inaccessible in common archaeological research. In addition, the new dating provides a revised and a more detailed chronological framework to the materials obtained by the pioneering work of Rothenberg in the valley (mostly done under UCL's Institute of Achaeometallurgical Studies [IAMS] that he himself established in 1973). The reassessment of Rothenberg's materials, together with the newly obtained data, provide fresh insights on the development of smelting and mining technologies and other aspects of the society operating the mines in the turn of the 1st millennium BCE. Evidence of direct connections to Jerusalem and King Solomon is yet to come to light, and the quest for Solomon's Mines still continues.

Recently on the project in National Geographic Society:


The project's webpage:


Professor Beno Rothenberg

Professor Beno Rothenberg (1914-2012), acclaimed photographer of the emerging state of Israel, self-taught scholar and founding father of archaeo-metallurgy, was one of only a handful of scientists who between them revolutionised the way in which we study and understand the production of metal prior to the Industrial Revolution. He pioneered the fusion of traditional archaeological and science-based approaches which later came to be known as archaeometry, with a strong emphasis on painstaking data gathering and photographic documentation in the field, chemical and mineralogical analysis of the archaeological remains unearthed, and visionary, if sometimes contentious interpretation of his observations. While his interests went well beyond the beginnings of mining and metallurgy, these are where he left his strongest legacy, not least through coining the very term 'archaeo-metallurgy', now used world-wide for the study of ancient metals and their production using scientific methods, and through establishing, directly and indirectly, two of the leading academic schools in this field. He was the founder of the Institute for Archaeo-Metallurgical Studies in 1973. Further information: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/iams/iams-news-publication/rothenberg_obituar

Erez Ben-Yosef:

Erez Ben-Yosef studied archaeology and geology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (B.A., B.Sc., M.Sc.) and archaeology and anthropology at the University of California, San Diego (M.A., Ph.D.). His doctoral dissertation, entitled "Technology and Social Process: Oscillations in Iron Age Copper Production and Power in Southern Jordan" was published in 2010 and presents results of six years of field and laboratory research on the copper mines of the southern Levant (Jordan and Israel). During 2010-2011 he carried out postdoctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, focusing on the ancient copper mines of Cyprus and the application of slag material in geomagnetic research. Since 2011 he teaches at the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and the Graduate Program in Archaeomaterials at Tel Aviv University.

Ben-Yosef has authored multiple research papers on archaeometallurgy, archaeomagnetism and Iron Age archaeology of the Southern Levant. Since 2012 he has been directing the Central Timna Valley (CTV) Project - a multidisciplinary research into ancient copper production in the southwestern Aravah (Israel). The project is currently supported by the Israel Science Foundation, following four years of support of the EU Marie Curie Actions.

Recent relevant publications:

Ben-Yosef, E., ed. in press. Mining for Ancient Copper: Essays in Memory of Professor Beno Rothenberg. Tel Aviv.

Ben-Yosef, E., Langgut, D. and Sapir-Hen, L. 2017. Beyond Smelting: New Insights on Iron Age (10th c. BCE) Metalworkers Community from Excavations at a Gatehouse and Associated Livestock Pens in Timna, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 11: 411-426.

Sukenik, N., Iluz, D., Amar, Z., Varvak, A., Workman, V., Shamir, O. and Ben-Yosef, E. 2017. Early Evidence (Late 2nd Millennium BCE) of Plant-Based Dyeing of Textiles from Timna, Israel. PLOS ONE 12 (6): e0179014.

Ben-Yosef, E. 2016. Back to Solomon's Era: Results of the First Excavations at Slaves' Hill (Site 34, Timna, Israel). Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 376: 169-198.

Greener, A. and Ben-Yosef, E. 2016. The Ground-Stone Assemblage of a Metal Workers Community: an Unexplored Dimension of Iron Age Copper Production at Timna. Journal of Lithic Studies 3 (3).

Sapir-Hen, L. and Ben-Yosef, E. 2014. The socioeconomic status of Iron Age metalworkers: animal economy in the 'Slaves' Hill', Timna, Israel. Antiquity 88 (341): 775-790.

More on Academia.edu:



Institute of Archaeology

University College London

31-34 Gordon Square

London WC1H 0PY

United Kingdom

Tel: 02076797495


Contact: Umberto Veronesi (umberto.veronesi.13@ucl.ac.uk)

Best wishes,

Marcos Martinn-Torres