Photo by Beno Rothenberg

Pocket of activity. During the late 1960s and the 1970s, before its return to Egypt, the Sinai Peninsula was the focus of intense scrutiny by Israeli archaeologists. Their quest: to unearth artifacts dating to the 13th and 12th centuries B.C.E.—the times of Moses and of Israel’s entry into Canaan. The results were nil, save for the Egyptian mining sites at Serabit el-Khadem and at Timna, a site in the Negev.

Located about 19 miles northwest of the northern end of the Gulf of Eilat, Timna has been mined for copper since the Chalcolithic period (fourth millennium B.C.E.). The cliffs of the Timna Valley, such as those bearing the misnomer “King Solomon’s Pillars” (shown here; there is no evidence that Solomon had anything to do with site), are honeycombed with more than 7,000 mining shafts (compare with photos of sanctuary structure and pottery found at Timna).