• Timna

    Explore the geological wonders scattered across this rugged, desertous valley that has long been mined for its abundant natural resources and is often associated with the fabled riches of the biblical King Solomon.

Just north of Eilat lies the horseshoe-shaped Timna Valley.  Here, in the Arava Desert, fifteen thousand acres of protected desert stretch between the high cliff walls that form the valley’s perimeter.  The valley’s present-day Timna Park sits atop the site that served for millennia as an important mining hub to a variety of ancient civilizations.

The land inside Timna Park is riddled with thousands of mining shafts and smelting furnaces, some of which date back as far as the fifth millennium BCE.  For many years, the ancient Egyptians used the region as a major source of copper ore from which they crafted nearly all of their metal tools, weapons, and religious objects.  These mines, thought to have been the world’s first system of copper mines, brought many Egyptian miners to take up temporary residence in the area.  Remnants of their presence are scattered throughout Timna Park, offering visitors insight into various aspects of the ancient Egyptian culture.  Of particular interest is the miners’ temple to Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of copper, and the nearby rock carvings featuring the goddess next to Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses III.

Among the most famous sites at Timna is a set of tall pillars carved out of the red limestone cliff face by erosion.  Known as Solomon’s Pillars, these structures point to the traditional association of the site with the biblical King Solomon.  For decades, many considered the copper mines at Timna to be location of the famed King Solomon’s mines – the rumored source of the king’s legendary wealth.  Most of the mines on site date to an Egyptian period prior to King Solomon’s reign, historically causing archaeologists to discredit the traditions connecting the monarch to the area.  Recent discoveries, however, have placed some of the more recent mines within the general period of Solomon’s rule.  Historians remain skeptical regarding the king’s connection to the site, though; many believe that these more recent mines were the work of the Edomites, a neighboring civilization that was often in conflict with Solomon’s kingdom.

Further archaeological research suggests that a number of the civilizations that inhabited the region in the following years also mined the site, including the Romans and the Umayyads.  Evidence indicates that miners continued to capitalize on Timna’s copper until the seventh century CE, when their activity began to deplete the area’s resources.

Today, the park offers visitors a broad array of natural rock formations, breathtaking vistas, and adventure sport excursions.

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Sites in the Arava Region:

Tiger Temple

Wish for a bird’s lofty perspective as you puzzle out the rocky images scattered across the desert floor, a testament to the religious practices of some ancient civilization.

Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve

Take a break from walking through the desert and embark on a different type of journey – a safari through grounds inhabited by dozens of species of biblical wildlife.