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


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 languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2014


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme229418
European Research Council


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


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