Thomas E. Levy, UCSD Levantine Archaeology Lab

HELL ON EARTH. Damnatio ad metalla (“condemned to the mines”) was the sentence handed down to countless convicted criminals in the Roman Empire, especially Christians in the third–fifth centuries. They were often sent to the copper mines of the Faynan district now in Jordan, south of the Dead Sea between the Jordan plateau and the lowlands of the Arabah Valley. Laboring in the dark, cramped, poorly ventilated conditions of mines like this room-and-pillar example, the work was tantamount to a death sentence for many persecuted Christians.