Feinan is one of the most extensive ancient copper smelting centres in the Near East in Wadi Araba. Research has shown that copper was mined and smelted intermittently in the greater Feinan region from the Chalcolithic to Byzantine periods (c 4000 Bc-AD 650) as well as sporadically in Islamic times, notably under the Mamlukes and Ottomans. Copper deposits occur over a wide area, both high grade ore with manganese, mostly below ground. Vast amounts of slag attest to the industrial scale of the mining and smelting ; a German survey has calculated 150,000-200,000tons of slag in the Feinan area which may represent 15,000-20,000 tons of copper production. Feinan is the largest and most important of a number of copper smelting sites in this part of Wadi Araba. It is often equated with biblical Punon; in the Roman and Byzantine periods it was known as the Phaino and was the mains town in the region. Under the Romans, according to Eusebius, convicts and Christians were sent as forced labor to work in the mines which had up to four level of galleries connected by shafts. In the early Byzantine period Phaino was a bishopric of Palastina Tertia. Churches, ancient field systems, aqueduct, reservoir, mill, cemeteries; unfortunately more and more graves are being refilled by gold hunters.


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