The light sandy area in the center of the picture, and several other similar patches in the background, are some of more than 1,000 saucer shaped clearings dotting the hill tops and low plateaus of Timna. To the excavators, they were mysterious “plates”. The “plates” are 6 to 18 feet in diameter. Prior to 1974 Rothenberg thought that the “plates” were Ramesside ore-dressing areas where the ore from the mines in the nearby cliffs was ground and possibly sifted by winnowing. In 1974, for the first time Rothenberg dug down into the sandy conglomerate of the saucer areas. About 10 feet of conglomerate rock was removed before reaching copper-bearing sandstone. Further excavation made it clear that the “plates” were the filled-in tops of shafts used for probes or for mining. Solving the “plates” mystery emphasized the intensiveness of Ramesside copper mining.