TEL AVIV (May. 18)
A 1,000-year-old gold mine has been discovered just north of Eilat, but it is not likely to set off a gold rush to the Negev, archaeologists who found it say.
The mine has been dated between 800 and 1000 C.E., the period when Palestine was ruled by the Islamic Ummayad dynasty. But the mine was played out by the end of the first millennium and shut down.
The discovery, however, has important historic value, according to Efrat Auerbach, spokeswoman for the joint dig by the Antiquities Authority and the Israeli Geological Institute.
It disproves the widely held belief that gold was always imported to the area, Auerbach said. Nevertheless, it is the first and only gold mine discovered in Israel, so the local supply could not have been particularly large.
The gold mine is not far from the worked-out Timna copper mines, said to date back to the times of Solomon.