New insights into Levantine copper trade: Analysis of ingots from the Bronze and Iron Ages in Israel

Naama Yahalom-Mack*, Ehud Galili, Irina Segal, Adi Eliyahu-Behar, Elisabetta Boaretto, Sana Shilstein, Israel Finkelstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The close association of metal ingots to the smelting operation and hence to the ore deposit makes them good candidates for provenance studies which in turn can be used for reconstructing paths of metal trade. A unique group of ingots from Hazor, Israel and two ingot groups retrieved during underwater explorations off the Carmel coast (Israel) were subjected to microstructure, chemical and lead isotope analysis. Ingots from Timna, Bir Nasib and Deir Alla, previously studied, were also subjected to bulk chemical and lead isotope analysis (LIA). The results enabled us to follow changes in the supply of copper to sites of this part of the Levant between two main copper producers: Cyprus and the Arabah (Timna and Faynan). The analyses showed that two of the ingot assemblages correspond to two different phases of Cypriot copper exportation in the second millennium BCE. The earlier phase, identified here for the first time, dated to the Middle Bronze Age II - Late Bronze Age I, consisted of trade in black copper in the form of relatively small plano-convex ingots, as suggested by the evidence from Hazor. The later phase, dated to the Late Bronze Age II, during which Cypriot copper was traded in the form of large oxhide-shaped ingots, is well-known and is evidenced by oxhide ingots recovered off the Carmel coast. A third assemblage from Neve Yam, off the same coast, consisting of 54 ingots of similar shape and composition, is identified here as the hitherto unknown product of the large-scale operations at Faynan in the Iron Age.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the European Research Council under the European Community's Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 229418 . It was part of a project headed by Steve Weiner, Weizmann Institute of Science and Israel Finkelstein, Tel Aviv University. We wish to thank the Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations, its director Amnon Ben-Tor and members of this expedition, including Sharon Zuckerman, Shlomit Bechar and Debbie Sandhaus-Reem. We wish to thank Irit Ziffer from The Eretz Israel Museum in Tel-Aviv, Michael Saban and Alegre Savariego from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Genia Mintz from the D-REAMS Radiocarbon Laboratory. We also wish to thank Steve Weiner as well as Yigal Erel and Nava Panitz-Cohen from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Baruch Rosen for their valuable comments and input. Haya Avital kindly assisted with the graphics.


  • Carmel coast
  • Copper trade
  • Cyprus
  • Faynan
  • Ingots
  • LIA
  • Oxhide ingots


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