The Timna Valley is located in southern Israel in the southwestern Arabah, approximately 30 km (18.6 mi) north of the Gulf of Aqaba and the town of Eilat. The area is rich in copper ore, and has been actively mined by humans since the 6th millennium BCE.
Copper mining 
The Egyptians discovered copper ore as early as the 5th millennium BCE, in the Neolithic period, and began the world’s first copper production center in Timna valley. The remains the Egyptians and others left provided for the most extensive example of early mining of any kind in history. During the 14th century BCE, the Egyptians established a trade route through Timna Valley as the surrounding areas heard about the copper-rich area. At the same time the Midianites from the northwestern Arabian Peninsula and local Amalekites began mining alongside the Egyptians. The Egyptian control of the mines declined in the 12th century BCE, but the Midianites stayed. Their advanced culture left thousands of ceremonial artifacts and the Temple of Hathor, a treasured relic. Mining continued by the Israelites and Nabateans through the Roman period and the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, and then by the Ummayads from the Arabian Peninsula after the Arab conquest (in the 7th century CE) until the copper ore became scarce. Timna Valley was also home to the beginning of the technological revolution, when people started using metal in daily life. Egyptians used metal chisels and hoes to mine and made tubular shafts with footholds in the walls to move down as far as 30 meters to reach the copper, all revolutionary methods for the time.
Modern history 
Scientific attention and public interest was aroused in the 1930s, when Nelson Glueck attributed the copper mining at Timna to King Solomon (10th century BCE) and named the site "King Solomon's Mines". Later research has shown that the site was not in use during the 10th century.
In 1959, Professor Beno Rothenberg, director of the Institute for Archeo-Metallurgical Studies at University College, London, led the Arabah Expedition, sponsored by the Eretz Israel Museum, and the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology. The expedition included a deep excavation of Timna Valley, and by 1990 he discovered 10,000 copper mines and smelting camps with furnaces, rock drawings, geological features, shrines, temples, an Egyptian mining sanctuary, jewelry, and other artifacts never before found anywhere in the world. His excavation and restoration of the area allowed for the reconstruction of Timna Valley’s long and complex history of copper production, from the Late Neolithic period to the Middle Ages.
The modern state of Israel also began mining copper on the eastern edge of the valley in 1955, but ceased in 1976. The mine was reopened in 1980. For this mine "they adopted the Biblical name Timnah which was the name of an Edomite chief." (Genesis 36:40)
Geological features 
Beyond the historical copper mines, Timna Valley attracts geologists and nature lovers with its rare stone formations and sand. Although predominantly red, the sand can be yellow, orange, grey, dark brown, or black. One can also find light green or blue sand near the copper mines. Water and wind erosion have created several unique formations that are only found in similar climates.
Solomon's Pillars 
The most striking and well-known formation in Timna Valley are Solomon's Pillars. The pillars are natural structures that were formed by centuries of water erosion through a crack in the sandstone cliff until it became a series of distinct, pillar-shaped structures.
They caused a surge of attention when American archaeologist Nelson Glueck claimed that the pillars were related to King Solomon in the 1930s and gave them the name "Solomon's Pillars". No information has proved this theory, and generally it is not accepted. However, the name stuck, and the claim gave the valley the attention that helped bring about the excavations and current national park.
The pillars are known to be the stunning backdrop for evening concerts and dance performances the park presents in the summer.
The Mushroom is an unusual monolithic, mushroom-shaped, red sandstone rock formation. The mushroom shape was caused by wind, humidity, and water erosion over centuries. The Mushroom is surrounded by copper ore smelting sites from between the 14th and 12th centuries BCE.
The Arches were formed by erosion, as well, and can be seen along the western cliff of the valley. Arches are not as rare as Solomon's Pillars and the Mushroom, and similar structures can be found in elsewhere in the world. For example, Arches National Park in Moab, Utah, in particular, is famous for its arches. The walking trail that goes to the Arches also goes past the copper mine shafts.
Shrine of Hathor 
Beno Rothenberg, the main excavator of the Timna Valley area, excavated a small Egyptian temple dedicated to Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of mining, at the base of Solomon's Pillars. It was built during the reign of Pharaoh Seti I at the end of the 14th century BCE, for the Egyptian miners. The shrine housed an open courtyard with a cella, an area cut into the rock to presumably house a statue of the deity. Earthquake damage caused the temple to be rebuilt during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses II in the 13th century BCE, with a larger courtyard and more elaborate walls and floors. The dimensions of the original shrine were 15 by 15 meters, and it was faced with white sandstone that was found only at the mining site, several kilometers away. The hieroglyphics, sculptures, and jewelry found in the temple totaled several thousand artifacts, have provided a lot of important information for archaeologists. A rock carving of Ramses III with Hathor is located at the top of a flight of step carved into the stone next to the shrine. When the Egyptians left the area in the middle of the 12th century BCE, the Midianites continued using the temple. They erased the evidence of the Egyptian cult, effaced the images of Hathor and the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and built a row of stelae and a bench of offerings on both sides of the entrance. They turned the temple into a tented desert shrine and filled it with Midianite pottery and metal jewelry.
Rock drawings 
There are many rock drawings throughout the valley that were contributed by different ruling empires over time. The Egyptians carved the most famous drawing, Chariots, consisting of Egyptians warriors holding axes and shields while driving ox-drawn chariots. There is a road that leads visitors to the Chariots, located about two miles from the mines in a narrow valley.
Archaeologists used the carvings to learn about the rituals and lifestyles of the various cultures that once ruled the area. They also provide information about the plants and animals of the area, in addition to the life and work of the people.
Nature reserve 
In 2002, 42000 dunams of the Timna valley were declared a nature reserve, ending all mining activity within the reserve's area. Gazelles and ibex still roam the area, but an image of these animals with ostriches found on a high ridge of sand suggests that ostriches once lived here, as well.
Timna Valley Park 
Timna Valley Park was opened by the Jewish National Fund to share Rothenberg’s findings with the public, and there are around 20 different walking trails and some roads in the park to lead visitors to the various attractions. The Jewish National Fund, a non-profit organization that aids in the development of Israel, funded the creation of many of the non-historic tourist and family attractions and activities in the park.
Replica of the Tabernacle 
A life-size replica of the biblical tabernacle, a tent that God instructed Moses to build in order to have a transportable sanctuary during the Exodus from Egypt to the Holy Land, was constructed in recent years, in the park. It does not use the original metals but is faithful to the biblical description in every other way. The replica includes the laver (a ceremonial basin) and altar in the outer court, complete with the menorah, incense altar and table of twelve loaves of bread for Shabbat. The only object inside the tabernacle, known as the Holy of Holies, is the ark containing the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron, and the pot of manna.
Mines of Time 
The new Visitors' Center houses a 360-degree multimedia experience called Mines of Time that uses computer simulation and state-of-the-art animation to introduce visitors to the Egyptian and Midianite culture, history, and copper mining before they enter the rest of the park. It shares stories, riddles, and mysteries of Timna Valley for visitors to learn about the rich culture of the empires that once ruled the area. The presentation continues as visitors walk through an artificial mining system, complete with lifelike miners and equipment.
Timna Lake 
The JNF built the man-made Timna Lake and its surroundings as a center for family activities. The initial cost and fundraising effort was led, a to a large part underwritten, by Avrum M. Chudnow of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A handicraft workshop offers the chance to make sand pictures, fill bottles with colored sand, press copper coin replicas, make pottery, paint, weave, and watch a demonstration of copper production. The lake has a playground and offers paddleboat and bicycle rides, as well as an outdoor Bedouin restaurant and a souvenir shop. Nearby are hiking, rappelling, and rock climbing sites.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Timna valley|
- "Timna Valley" Jewish National Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- Timna Park Official site. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- "Timna Park" Holiday in Israel. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- Parr, Peter J. (1974). "Review of "Timma: Valley of the Biblical Copper Mines" by Beno Rothenberg". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) 37 (1): 223–224.
- "Archaeological Sites in Israel - Timna: Valley of the Ancient Copper Mines" Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- Karṭa (Firm) (1993). Carta's official guide to Israel: and complete gazetteer to all sites in the Holy Land. State of Israel, Ministry of Defence Pub. House. p. 462. ISBN 978-965-220-186-7. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
- "Timna Valley Park Review" Frommer's. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- "List of National Parks and Nature Reserves" (in Hebrew). Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- "Tabernacle Model" Bible Places. Retrieved 2009-10-21.
- J.M. Tebes, "A Land whose Stones are Iron, and out of whose Hills You can Dig Copper": The Exploitation and Circulation of Copper in the Iron Age Negev and Edom, DavarLogos 6/1 (2007)