© Erich Lessing

SMELTING FOR STATUS. Copper smelting, the process of heating ore to extract metal, first occurred in the Chalcolithic period (c. 4500–3800 B.C.E.) and marked the start of the copper revolution. Israel and Jordan are home to some of the earliest copper-smelting sites in the world. Copper became an important trade commodity and was used in the Chalcolithic period mostly for “prestige items” such as crowns, scepters and maces. This copper scepter with ibex heads is part of the famous Nahal Mishmar hoard, a collection of largely copper artifacts from the Chalcolithic period that were discovered in a cave west of the Dead Sea.