During the course of development work to improve access to and the manner of presentation to the public of sites in the Timna Valley, concentrations of ash, slag and kiln debris were exposed close to the “Mushroom” site (Site 2 according Beno Rothenberg’s numbering). Consequently a short salvage excavation was conducted there in November and December 2005, under the direction of Tali Gini of the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the participation of the authors, and Sonia Itkis of the Ben-Gurion University, Erez Ben Yosef of the Hebrew University, students from the archaeology trend in the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and volunteers. The excavation was financed by the southern district of the Jewish National Funds and with assistance provided by Timna Park. We wish to express special thanks to Levko (Michael Lavie), the director of the park, to Avinoam Alon, director of the southern district and the Negev Highlands of the Jewish National Fund and to Yoram Haiyami, director of the southern district and the Negev Highlands of the Antiquities Authority who assisted in the organization of the excavation.

Two excavation areas were designated during the course of the work; one at the top of the hill overlooking the mushroom site from the north, and the other on the hillside, next to the northern fringes of the site. The study on the hill top began with a magnetic mapping (by Sonia Itkis) that indicated a region with an unusual drop in magnetism. The region with the anomaly was excavated and a shallow pit was exposed inside it that was filled with ash and slag. Two control squares were opened at the same time in which a thin layer of ash and slag was found. A number of squares were excavated in the area at the foot of the hill. In all of them a very large amount of ash, slag, fragments of bellows pipe shields (tuyeres), a number of stone vessels, copper, pottery sherds and beads were found. In addition remains of a small furnace (different than a production kiln) were discovered in which it is almost certain copper was smelted.

A C14 analysis that was performed by Elisabetta Boaretto (of Bar-Ilan University and the Weizmann Institute) indicated that activity occurred in the second half of the Late Bronze Age in the two areas that were excavated, similar to the time of the Mushroom site (that was excavated and dated by Rothenberg). It is therefore clear that our area of the excavation was included in the region of activity of the same site. Interestingly, the radiometric examinations showed that the activity at the top of the hill preceded the activity at the foot of the hill by c. 100 years. This fact coincides with Rothenberg’s assessment that there were a number of activity phases at the Mushroom site and shows that it is possible to date each activity region separately and determine what preceded what, and which activity is the latest among them.

In the metallurgical analyses that were performed by Sena Shalstein (Weizman Institute) and Sariel Shalev (University of Haifa and Weizmann Institute) remains of copper, iron, manganese and lead were detected in the slag and in the ash. A comparison of the slag from the two excavation areas indicates a difference in the technology in the metallurgical activity between the different regions. There remained a smaller amount of copper in the slag that was checked from the hilltop, a fact that is likely to indicate different and more efficient metal processing than that which was done, probably later, at the foot of the hill. Another interesting result is that in the XRF analysis of the ash remains in the areas of metallurgical activity one can discern materials that cannot be detected in the analysis of the slag. This fact is likely to aid in understanding the ancient work methods and it will be checked by us during the continuation of the planned research in the region.