Three areas (A–C; Fig. 3) were opened in the excavation next to Site 2, which is popularly called the ‘Mushroom Site’. Five squares (4–15 sq m) were opened in Area A, on the northern bank of the wadi and a single square (25 sq m) was opened in Area B, on the southern bank of the wadi. A single square (9 sq m) was opened in Area C, located on a hilltop to the north, in the wake of the magnetic survey.
Other than furnaces, no architecture was detected in any of the excavated squares. The soil was carefully sifted, using a 2 cm mesh sieves, and tapping slag, charcoal, including charcoal embedded in furnace slag, parts of tuyeres, potsherds, animal bones and a variety of beads were discovered, as well as stone implements, such as mortars and grinders.
Area A. Much of this area contained the debris of dismantled smelting furnaces. A high concentration of ash mixed with sand, slag and charcoal were found in layers (depth up to 0.4 m), overlying a sterile layer of sand and small wadi pebbles in three squares. Excavation in these squares produced a variety of beads, animal bones, including those of pigs and sheep/goats, potsherds, including painted sherds (Fig. 4)and handmade Negevite wares of the Late Bronze and early Iron 1 periods, as well as parts of smelting furnaces, including tuyeres fragments and pieces of hardened clay and grinders and parts of stone mortars used in the production process (Fig. 5). Two samples of charcoal produced radiocarbon dates of the late thirteenth and twelfth centuries BCE and a third sample radiocarbondates of the twelfth to eleventh centuries BCE.
A crucible furnace constructed from large flat stones that were placed upright, forming a circle, was discovered (Fig. 6). The furnace (diam. 0.56 m, depth 0.33 m) was filled with sand and contained a small amount of ash and slag; it was covered with a layer of stones on the surface.
Area B. This area was located a few meters west of a concentration of structures excavated by Rothenberg in his Area D–K. A thin red modern fill over dark sandy layer with some signs of ash was discovered, as well as a concentration of large stones in the center of the square, overlying a thin, localized layer of white ash. Finds in this area were modern, indicating that it had previously been investigated.
Area C. The magnetic survey on the hilltop indicated the presence of a heavy concentration of metal in one spot (Fig. 7). Excavation of this concentration revealed the badly preserved remains of a smelting pit sunk into the gypsum layer of the hilltop. Radiocarbon analysis of charcoal discovered in the installation revealed that it dated as early as the fifteenth century BCE.
The new excavations carried out next to Site 2 in Timna National Park lend confirmation to its function as a robust metallurgical production site dated to the second half of the Late Bronze Age, as determined over fifty years ago by B. Rothenberg. Calibrated radiocarbon dates obtained from charcoal used directly in the smelting process and the ceramic evidence point to intensive copper production in the fourteenth–thirteenth centuries BCE. During this period, the Timna Valley was controlled by Egypt. Painted potsherds of ‘Qurayya Ware’, formerly known as ‘Midianite Ware’, which may have been produced in the northern Arabian site of al-Qurayya, were uncovered together with plain ware bowls, jugs and storage jarsthat included handmade Negevite wares, Egyptian and possibly Canaanite wares. The painted wares found in Site 2 may indicate the presence of indigenous workers or alternatively, the vessels may have been obtained from local sources.
It should be said that no finds of later dates were detected in any of the excavation squares.
It is apparent that smelting activities took place on the perimeters of Site 2 and outside of areas that appear to have more intensive occupation. The excavations in Area A show that smelting furnaces were constructed and dismantled to make way for new installations, leaving few old ones of these types intact. The crucible furnace appears to be of the exact type uncovered elsewhere in Site 2 by Rothenberg. Of particular interest is the smelting pit discovered in the magnetic survey in Area C. This primitive installation predates the activities that took place in Site 2 on the plain below by c. 150 years. B. Rothenberg excavated an installation of this type, dated to the fourteenth century BCE, in Area Z.