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In the back the desert, in front of it the Red Sea, far and wide no other settlement, neither pasture nor field - why did 5500 years ago people live in the wastelands of the southernmost tip of today's Jordan? Archaeologists of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Berlin now present a surprising answer: Copper from the desert for bread from Egypt. Dr. Klaus Schmidt found in this year's excavation on the settlement hill Tall Hujayrat al-Ghuzlan north of the modern port city of Aqaba the evidence of a rain jewelry and copper production. Both were not intended for personal use, both know Schmidt from the so-called Maadi culture that characterized Lower Egypt before the Pharaohs. The Puzzle Game Begins: The ancient Egyptians did not have their own copper deposits, but were eager for the fashionable material that made so many more shapes than stone. From Maadi - today covered by the modern Cairo - copper ingots are known, but no evidence of the smelting of the ore, ie melting and casting, and the necessary hand tools - crucibles and molds. The grub Schmidt now numerous from his settlement mound in the desert. And: The molds correspond exactly to the bars found in Maadi. The copper axles and needles in both places are the same. "The acceptance of trade connections is almost mandatory, " summed up the prehistorian reluctant. "Very strange, " Schmidt finds the finds or non-finds on the diet of the people of Tall Hujayrat al-Ghuzlan: They had a lot of sheep, goat and beef on the menu, but no fish, no shells, birds and hardly any game. "But how was the settlement cared for?" Asks the archaeologist, because the constant lack of water did not allow any food security agriculture. His conclusion: It was "not a village settlement, but rather a specialized in the manufacture of copper equipment, hierarchically organized place". The most important location factor of this place was: "Copper export to and food import from Egypt". The sea route was a maximum of two days - there is no spoiling bread.

Hans Groth

© science.de

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