The remains of a unique sandstone edifice that was once used to supervise the mining missions for copper and turquoise in ancient Egypt more than 4,000 years ago, have been discovered.
The edifice was unearthed in the Wadi Al-Nasb area in South Sinai, six kilometres west of the Serabit Al-Khadim site, near the turquoise mines and the temple of goddess Hathor, the lady of turquoise.
Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of the SCA, said that the Egyptian archeological mission is the first ever to work at the Wadi Al-Nasb site. He added that the uncovered building was used as an administrative centre for the mining teams which headed to Sinai searching for turquoise and copper.
Preliminary study indicates that the building was built during the Middle Kingdom and continued to be used with little changes to its interior design during the New Kingdom and then again during the Late Roman period.
The mining mission’s premises is located in the center of Wadi Al-Nasb, overlooking the ancient main well that once supplied water to the mining district, and measures 225 square metres. The building consists of two main halls, two rooms and a staircase leading to the roof of the building. The floor of the uncovered building is made of sandstone slabs.
Head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities at the SCA Ayman Ashmawi said that the building was modified over its lifetime, finally ending up as a copper workshop.
The Egyptian mission unearthed many furnaces in the top layer, along with copper ore, four rectangular copper ingots, many tuyeres, crucibles, and slag, which is the waste material produced in the extraction process of copper metal.
Wadi Al-Nasb was the largest ancient Egyptian smelting site on the Sinai Peninsula, with the amount of copper slag estimated at 100,000 tons.
The site is among the most important and ancient smelting sites in the eastern Mediterranean. In addition, Wadi Al-Nasb is a very important site famous for its unique rock inscriptions from the Middle and New Kingdom.