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A 6,500-year-old “furnace” was discovered in Beer-Sheba



Beersheba may have been the actual birthplace of Start Up Nation, as the Negev capital could have been the home of the world’s first furnace 6,500 years ago, according to a new study from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority. the study has just been published in the prestigious Journal of Archaeological Science.It details how a 6,500-year-old copper ore smelting workshop in Beersheba’s Neveh Noy neighborhood once operated.This study sheds light on both the level of technical progress at that time and region and the hierarchy in society. proving a theory that there was a clearly defined elite who possessed skills and knew professional secrets, which preserved their power, because its members were the only ones who knew how to create polished copper. The study, conducted for several years, is started in 201

7 in the Negev capital when the laboratory was first discovered during an emergency archaeological dig by the Israeli Antiquities Authority to safeguard antiquities. The study was conducted by Prof. Erez Ben-Yosef, Dana Ackerfeld and Omri Yagel from the Jacob M. Alkow and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations Department of Archeology at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Dr. Yael Abadi-Reiss, Talia Abulafia and Dmitry Yegorov of the Israel Antiquities Author ity and Dr Yehudit Harlavan of the Geological Survey of Israel. According to Abulafia, director of the excavation for the Israeli Antiquities Authority, “the excavation revealed evidence of domestic production from the Chalcolithic period, some 6,500 years ago. The surprising finds include a small laboratory for smelting copper with fragments of a furnace – a small installation made of tin in which copper ore was smelted – as well as a lot of copper slag. “Objects on a white cloth show copper slag found in the Neveh Noy excavations. (Anat Rasyuk, Israel Antiquities Authority)Objects on a white cloth show copper slag found in the Neveh Noy excavations. (Anat Rasyuk, Israel Antiquities Authority)The Chalcolithic period (the word “Chalcolithic” is composed of the Greek words for “copper” and “stone”) got this name because although the metalwork was already evident, the tools used were still in stone. An isotope analysis of the mineral remains in the furnace fragments shows that the ore was brought to the Neveh Noy neighborhood from Wadi Faynan, located in present-day Jordan, more than 100 km away. from Beersheba. During the Chalcolithic period, when copper was first refined, the process took place away from the mines, unlike the prevailing historical model in which furnaces were built near the mines for both practical and economic reasons. Researchers theorize that copper was refined so far from the mines to preserve the technological secret. “It is important to understand that copper refining was the high technology of that era. There was no more sophisticated technology than that in the ancient world,” said Erez Ben-Yosef. “Throwing pieces of ore into the fire will get you nowhere. Certain knowledge is needed to build special furnaces capable of reaching very high temperatures while maintaining low oxygen levels. The study provides new evidence on the extent to which this society, which was not yet urbanized, was hierarchical. Scientists believe Neveh Noy’s findings could prove that the elite who knew how to use technology occupied a privileged position. Copper objects were not meant to be used, but rather served a ritual purpose and had symbolic value. They were probably used in rituals while the everyday objects in use continued to be made of stone. Ben-Yosef said that the archeology of the land of Israel shows evidence of the influence of the Ghassulian culture, named after the archaeological site in Jordan, Tulaylât al -Ghassûl, where the culture was first recognized. This culture, which spanned the region from the Beersheba Valley to present-day southern Lebanon, was unusual for its artistic achievements and ritual objects, as evidenced by the copper objects discovered at Nahal Mishmar and now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. . In Ben-Yosef, the people living in the copper mining area traded with members of the Beersheba Ghassulian culture and sold them the mineral, but were unable to make polished and refined copper objects. Even among the Ghassulian settlements along Wadi Beersheba, copper was refined by experts in special laboratories. A chemical analysis of the remains indicates that each laboratory had its own special formula that it did not share with its competitors. He said it would appear that, at that time, Wadi Beersheba was filled with water all year round, making it a convenient place for copper smelting where furnaces and other appliances were made of clay. “In the first phase of mankind’s copper production, crucibles were used instead of furnaces,” Ben-Yosef explained. “This small ceramic vase, which looks like a vase of flowers, is made of clay. It was a type of mobile coal furnace. Here, at the Neveh Noy workshop discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority, we show that the technology was based on real ovens. region. It is also possible that the furnace was invented elsewhere, directly from crucible-based metallurgy, because some scientists consider the first furnaces to be nothing more than large crucibles buried in the ground, “Ben-Yosef added.” The debate will only be resolved in the future. discoveries, but there is no doubt that ancient Beersheba played an important role in advancing the global metal revolution and that in the fifth millennium BC the city was a technological powerhouse for the entire region. ”




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