The Timna Valley is located in southern Israel approximately 25 kilometers north of the Gulf of Aqaba and the town of Eilat. The arid area is rich in copper ore and has been actively mined by humans since the 5th millennium BC. Today Timna Valley is a nature reserve and a famous national park, offering a variety of fun activities: pedal boats on the man-made Timna Lake, colored sand bottle craft, hiking and bicycle trails, making copper stamps, walking through a copper mining shaft, an outdoor Bedouin restaurant and a souvenir shop, rappelling, and rock climbing sites.
Water and wind erosion have created several unusual formations that are only found in similar climates. The most striking and well-known formation are Solomon's Pillars (depicted on the stamp). The pillars are natural structures that were formed by centuries of water erosion through fractures in the sandstone cliff until it became a series of distinct, pillar-shaped structures. The pillars are called "Solomon's Pillars" due to a mistake by an archaeologist who claimed in the 1930s that they were related to King Solomon. The pillars are known as the backdrop for evening concerts and dance performances the park presents in the summer. The Mushroom is an unusual monolithic, mushroom-shaped, red sandstone rock formation known as a hoodoo. The Arches are natural arches.
Copper-mining in Timna began some 6,000 years ago in the Chalcolithic period (the early phase of the Bronze Age in which the addition of tin to copper to form bronze during smelting remained yet unknown by the metallurgists of the times). In fact, the most ancient copper mines in the world were found at Timna. The State of Israel also began mining copper on the eastern edge of the valley in the 1950's, but ceased mining completely in 1984.
The archeologist Beno Rothenberg started to excavate the Timna Valley in 1959. Over the years he discovered numerous copper mines and smelting camps with furnaces, rock drawings, shrines, temples, an Egyptian mining sanctuary, jewelry, and other artifacts. The main archeological finding is a small Egyptian temple dedicated to Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of mining, at the base of Solomon's Pillars.
The stamp was issued in 2012 as part of a three stamps series "Visit Israel 2012". Designer: Pini Hamou.