In Job 28:1-11 we have the only Biblical reference to mines. The writer very likely derived his information either from personal observation or from a description by an eyewitness, of the mining operations of Sinai (see METALS). No traces of ancient mines have yet been found in Palestine and Syria. What metals were taken out came from the superficial strata. The mines of Upper Egypt have already been mentioned. Burton and other travelers in Northern Arabia and the Red Sea country have found there evidences of ancient mining operations.
The usual Egyptian method of mining was to follow the vein from the surface as far as it was practicable with tools corresponding to our pick and hoe, hammer and chisel. The shafts frequently extended into the ground a distance of 180 to 200 ft. The rock when too hard to be dug out was first cracked by having fires built on it. The metal-bearing stone was carried in baskets to the surface, where the crushing and separating took place. The mining operations were performed by an army of slaves who were kept at their work day and night, driven with the lash until they died, when their places were taken by others.
See METALS; CRAFTS, II, 10.
James A. Patch
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