Science: The Oldest Mine?

Archaeologists have long been intrigued by the heaps of brownish-gray slag scattered amid the sandy soil of Israel's southern Negev Desert. First spotted by the late American biblical scholar and archaeologist Nelson Glueck, the heaps seemed to be remnants of an ancient copper-smelting operation of pre-Roman origin. Now, after excavating at the site with a team of West German mining experts, Israeli Archaeologist Beno Rothenberg reports that the slag is only the tip of an archaeological treasure. A short distance away, he says, is the oldest underground mining system ever found.

The traditional view is that the first really large-scale attempts...

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