Closely Secured Secret Technology: 6,500-Year-Old Copper Workshop Uncovered in the Negev Desert

Closely Secured Secret Technology: 6,500-Year-Old Copper Workshop Uncovered in the Negev Desert

Beer Sheva Dig

Work on the dig in Beer Sheva. Credit: Anat Rasiuk, Israel Antiquities Authority

Tel Aviv University and Israel Antiquities Authority believe copper-producing innovation was closely safeguarded trick.

A brand-new research study by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority suggests that a workshop for smelting copper ore once ran in the Neveh Noy community of Beer Sheva, the capital of the Negev Desert. The study, conducted over several years, began in 2017 in Beer Sheva when the workshop was first revealed throughout an Israel Antiquities Authority emergency situation archeological excavation to safeguard threatened antiquities.

The new research study likewise shows that the website might have made the very first usage in the world of an innovative apparatus: the furnace.

The study was conducted by Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef, Dana Ackerfeld, and Omri Yagel of the Jacob M. Alkow Department of Archeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations at Tel Aviv University, in conjunction with Dr. Yael Abadi-Reiss, Talia Abulafia, and Dmitry Yegorov of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Dr. Yehudit Harlavan of the Geological Survey of Israel. The results of the research study were published online on September 25, 2020, in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports

According to Ms. Abulafia, Director of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The excavation revealed proof for domestic production from the Chalcolithic period, about 6,500 years back. The surprising discovers consist of a little workshop for smelting copper with shards of a heater– a little setup made of tin in which copper ore was heated– along with a great deal of copper slag.”

Beer Sheva Excavation Location

Excavation area, Neveh Noy, Beer Sheva. Credit: Talia Abulafia, Israel Antiquities Authority

Although metalworking was already in evidence in the Chalcolithic duration, the tools used were still made of stone.

Throughout the Chalcolithic duration, when copper was first fine-tuned, the process was made far from the mines, unlike the prevalent historic design by which furnaces were developed near the mines for both practical and financial reasons. The scientists hypothesize that the factor was the preservation of the technological trick.

” It is essential to understand that the refining of copper was the high-tech of that period. There was no technology more sophisticated than that in the whole of the ancient world,” Prof. Ben-Yosef says. “Tossing swellings of ore into a fire will get you nowhere. You need specific understanding for constructing unique heaters that can reach extremely high temperatures while preserving low levels of oxygen.”

This culture, which spanned the region from the Beer Sheva Valley to present-day southern Lebanon, was uncommon for its artistic achievements and ritual things, as evidenced by the copper items discovered at Nahal Mishmar and now on display screen at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Copper Slag Neveh Noy Excavation

Copper slag found at the Neveh Noy excavation. Credit: Anat Rasiuk, Israel Antiquities Authority

According to Prof. Ben-Yosef, individuals who resided in the location of the copper mines traded with members of the Ghassulian culture from Beer Sheva and sold them the ore, but they were themselves incapable of replicating the technology. Even amongst the Ghassulian settlements along Wadi Beer Sheva, copper was improved by specialists in special workshops. A chemical analysis of remnants shows that every workshop had its own special “recipe” which it did not share with its rivals. It would appear that, in that period, Wadi Beer Sheva was filled with water year-round, making the place convenient for smelting copper where the heaters and other device were made of clay.

Prof. Ben-Yosef additional notes that, even within Chalcolithic settlements that had both stone and copper implements, the secret of the gleaming metal was held by the very couple of members of an elite.

Society appears to have consisted of a clearly defined elite having expertise and expert secrets, which protected its power by being the exclusive source for the glossy copper. The copper objects were not made to be utilized, rather serving some routine function and thus having symbolic worth. The copper items were most likely used in rituals while the daily items in usage continued to be of stone.

” At the first stage of humankind’s copper production, crucibles instead of furnaces were used,” says Prof. Ben-Yosef. “This small pottery vessel, which appears like a flower pot, is made from clay. It was a type of charcoal-based mobile heater. Here, at the Neveh Noy workshop that the Israel Antiquities Authority uncovered, we show that the technology was based upon genuine furnaces. This supplies very early evidence for the use of heating systems in metallurgy and it raises the possibility that the furnace was created in this area.

” It’s also possible that the heating system was invented elsewhere, directly from crucible-based metallurgy, since some scientists see early heating systems as no more than big crucibles buried in the ground,” Prof. Ben-Yosef continues. “The argument will only be settled by future discoveries, however there is no doubt that ancient Beer Sheva played a crucial role ahead of time the global metal transformation and that in the 5th millennium BCE the city was a technological powerhouse for this entire region.”

Referral: “Firing up the heating system: New insights on metallurgical practices in the Chalcolithic Southern Levant from a recently discovered copper-smelting workshop at Horvat Beter (Israel)” by Dana Ackerfeld, Yael Abadi-Reiss, Omri Yagel, Yehudit Harlavan, Talia Abulafia, Dmitry Yegorov and Erez Ben-Yosef, 25 September 2020, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports
2020102578

Learn More

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.