Updated: Jul 1
Visiting Timna is a unique experience that can transport you to another world. The desert landscape, devoid of vegetation, with its strange shapes and vibrant colors, creates an atmosphere that feels like stepping onto Mars. The park offers a rich historical and geological heritage, making it an intriguing destination.
From a bird's eye view, you can observe that the park is shaped like a semicircle, which becomes evident when you arrive in Eilat by plane. Interestingly, Timna has a geological sister called Pinan in Jordan, located about 35 km south of the Dead Sea. These two areas were separated over millions of years due to the tectonic activity caused by the Syrian-African Rift. The two tectonic plates moved in opposite directions, resulting in their separation.
The extensive tectonic activity in the region has exposed rock formations that originated around 600 million years ago. Over time, marine sedimentary rocks were deposited, forming dolomites. The presence of numerous fossils indicates that the entire area was once calm lagoons, which were later submerged by the Tethys Sea that covered the region. Copper is abundant in the Timna Valley, and it can be found in various layers and rock formations. The unique turquoise color of the copper stands out due to the oxidation process.
The significance of copper takes us beyond geology and into the Chalcolithic period, which signifies the transition from the Stone Age to the Early Bronze Age. During this period, humans discovered how to create vessels from copper. Timna is proud to be one of the earliest sites for copper production, and it is the only place in the world where you can witness the entire copper production process concentrated in one location.
As you explore the park, you will visit the Arches site, where you can witness how copper was produced around 7,000 years ago using stone tools. Further exploration will reveal the transition to sharper tools made of metal. Timna is also known for its ancient rock art, where paintings depicting the lives of early inhabitants can be found.
At the Mushroom site, you will witness the remarkable effects of wind and floods. Here, you can observe remnants of copper production and a cult site dedicated to the goddess Hathor. Walking among the cokes, you can identify the locations where copper smelting took place.
One notable attraction is Solomon's Pillars, where you will learn about the intriguing theories surrounding them. Nelson Glick believed these pillars to be King Solomon's Mines, but Prof. Rotenberg's research, considering the presence of Egyptian civilization remains, dismissed this possibility. You can also climb to the worship site for Ella Hathor, imagining the conditions in which workers operated.
The breathtaking view from atop Solomon's Pillars will allow you to observe the Slaves Hill. Prof. Erez Ben Yosef's research on this hill brings back the notion of biblical copper, which is said to have been used in the construction of the Temple. It raises interesting questions about whether the copper for the Temple came from Timna or its geological twin sister.
Lastly, you will reach The Lake, which was created due to copper mining activities in the 1950s. Here, you can engage in a different experience by creating souvenirs made of colored sand rather than focusing on copper mining.
Throughout your journey, take moments to relax, enjoy sweet tea, and appreciate the beauty surrounding you. Remember to leave the desert as clean as you found it, respecting the environment and preserving its natural allure.