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Timna Valley Project excavation.JPG

Central Timna Valley Project
Southern Araveh Valley, Israel



In the Timna Valley in Southern Israel is a location rich in copper ore that has been mined for use in ornaments and stone cutting since the 5th or 6th millennium BCE. Archaeological excavation indicates that the mines were most likely part of the Kingdom of Edom, and then transitioned to being mined by the Israelites and Nabataeans through the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. The site remained active into the Islamic Period starting in the 7th-century until the copper ore became scarce and the mines were abandoned.  

The 2023 excavations at Timna are led by the Institute of Archeology at Tel Aviv University in partnership with The Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology and will focus on copper production sites in the southern Aravah Valley at the transitional period between the Late Bronze and Iron Ages (1300-800 BCE). Project participants will excavate in smelting sites of various periods - including sites related to the question of Solomon's Mines, and others from as early as the 3rd millennium BCE. Additional side projects are planned, including surveys and probes.​​

What to Expect:

No archaeological experience is required.


Although the project season is two weeks total, participants are invited to join for a minimum of three days. The expedition includes an emphasis on learning different excavation methods for archaeological fieldwork, lectures and included field trips to various ancient copper production sites. The excavations are aimed at understanding social and technological aspects of the ancient copper production industry and how the industry evolved throughout the centuries from the dawn of metallurgy to the Islamic period.

What's Included in the Cost:


Participants can join from three days to two weeks total. The project fee includes: 

  • All meals, water, beverages and snacks

  • Evening lectures

  • Field trips throughout the season 

  • Advance Preparation meetings to be conducted online the week before the excavations begin (exact date to be announced)

  • A free pass to the Timna Park also before, during and after the dig



  • All participants will be housed in shared, heated tents but must provide their own sleeping bags

  • Toilets and showers available


Not included:

  • International & domestic travel to and from Israel

  • Participants are responsible for their own adventure travel insurance; the expedition will not cover any claims of damage to equipment or injuries, of the volunteers and their visitors.

What to Bring:

All excavation tools will be provided. Accommodations are in heated tents, so participants should be prepared for a more rustic experience. In planning for clothing, please note that temperatures In the Timna Valley in January and February are moderate with an average high of 70°-73°F (19°-21°C) and a low of 50°-52°F (14°-15°C).  

  • Sleeping bag

  • Comfortable clothes for field work

  • Comfortable shoes for field work and hikes

  • Warm clothes for the night

  • Sunscreen

  • Hat

  • Camera

  • Reusable water bottle 

  • Backpack

  • Field notebook and pencils (optional)

  • Trowel (optional)

  • Towel

  • Soap


Click here for more details on what to expect on an archaeology dig. 

Erez Ben-Yosef.jpeg

Erez Ben-Yosef
Central Timna 

  1. What makes your site significant?
    The history of copper production technology and the introduction of iron are important historical issues concerning the nature of 13th – 9th c. BCE desert societies and the impact of the intense copper production on social processes, regional and global political interactions and the economy of the southern Levant at that period.

  2. What has been most surprising about your discoveries at this location? 
    As recent research at Sites 30 and 34 clearly demonstrated, the previously accepted ‘Egyptian paradigm’, according to which the main sites in the valley should be dated to the Late Bronze Age – Egyptian New Kingdom period, is no longer valid. Site 30 is now dated to the early Iron Age (11th – 9th c. BCE) and the date of the other main smelting camps, as well as the thousands of mine shafts, is now in question.

  3. What are your current research objectives at your site
    The excavations are aimed at addressing social, technological and chronological aspects of the ancient copper production industry. Field work is conducted on a small scale, designed to address specific research questions, and is complemented by various laboratory analyses of the different archaeometallurgical finds.

  4. What been your most rewarding or most important find at this site? 
    The radiocarbon dates which "moved" the date of the main copper production to the 10th century BCE, perhaps the days of King Solomon.

Notable artifacts or features:  Textiles, copper production facilities, well-preserved organic materialsn

Age, Period or Culture: 
Late Bronze and Iron Age

2023 Dates

January 22-February 4

Minimum stay: 3 days up to 2 weeks

$115 USD Daily/
$1,350 USD for 2 full weeks  

Clicking the above link will take you directly to this dig's booking page


Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. Prices and dates dates subject to change. 

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