Part of Trade Network
The archaeologists, who report their discovery in the June 2002 issue of the scientific journal Antiquity, suggest that Khirbat Hamra Ifdan was an important industrial center that contributed to the rise of urban societies in Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean.
Hauptmann has linked the copper produced at the factory to copper objects found in Egypt and Israel. "Copper bears a personal fingerprint," he said. "Once you determine such a fingerprint in the metal, you can trace this fingerprint at other localities."
This sleuthing is giving the archaeological team evidence of a copper trade network in the ancient Near East.
Henry Wright, curator of archaeology at the University of Michigan's Museum of Anthropology in Ann Arbor and member of the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration, said the research by Levy and colleagues is a great contribution to understanding the economic bases of the earliest civilizations.
The only other comparable Early Bronze Age metal factory in the ancient Near East known from this time period, he noted, was found at Kestrel in the Taurus mountains of Turkey by Aslihan Yener, an archaeologist at the University of Chicago.
"These two industrial settlements," said Wright, "must be key elements in a vast network connecting emerging cities in all of southwest Asia and beyond."
The excavations at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan were supported in part by a grant from the National Geographic Society's Committee for Research and Exploration.
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