Prof. Aren Maeir reports the discovery of evidence of Philistine metallurgy at Tell es-Safi/Gath. He says the slag “is definitely copper-based material.” He mentions two experts in ancient metallurgy who came to supervise the excavation of the context of the metallurgical areas.
They found additional evidence of bronze production, including additional fragments of a crucibles, possible tuyeres, and many more small fragments of slag. This definitely is becoming very interesting!
If I correctly understand what I read, the tuyere is the tube through which air is pumped into the crucible to make the heat in the furnace more intense. Perhaps this illustration of the copper mining process at Timna will be helpful. I am talking in an area where I know very little. If this is not correct, I will be pleased to receive a comment with a better explanation.
There are a few references to copper in the Bible. The land promised to the Israelites is described as,
“a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.” (Deuteronomy 8:9 ESV)
The process of smelting is mentioned in the book of Job.
“Iron is taken out of the earth, and copper is smelted from the ore.” (Job 28:2 ESV)
More information is available at the Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations website here.
Excavations in Jordan resulting in evidence of copper smelting in 10th century B.C. Edom is reported here.
Being able to keep up with some of the excavations by means of the blogs is exciting. Todd Bolen has compiled a list of 2010 Excavation Blogs at the Bible Places Blog here.