National Geographic : 1965 Mar
Famed American archeologist Nelson Glueck had dis covered elaborate smelting furnaces of 3,000 years ago, built with flues oriented to harness the searing winds that blow almost constantly down the desolate Wadi Araba.* "If an archeologist had not told us these were King Solomon's mines," a plant engineer suggested half se riously, "this might still be the empty wilderness you saw here in 1952." So far, Timna's 20th-century miners have located an estimated 20 million tons of commercial-grade ore (page 410). Last year the plant shipped 7,000 tons of copper enough to earn more than four million dollars in the foreign exchange Israel so urgently needs. Since that first stay in 1951 and '52, I have come back twice to Israel-in 1959 and again only last year. Both times there were surprises-almost shocks. Lively sub urbs cover slopes I remember as bare. Villages have grown into towns, and towns into cities. Whole industries have risen. Smooth new highways hum with traffic, and pipelines pulse silently with oil and a far more precious commodity-water. Fields of soft green gleam amid the old desert wastes. Israeli scientists have even turned their stripling nation into one of the first of the "little great powers" through their work with Israel's two nuclear reactors-for peaceful purposes, they have emphasized. Israeli "Pilgrims" Arrive on Artsa The reactors and the mines, the booming cities and the throbbing ports represent the going concern that is Israel today. But before seeing too much of this, I wanted to start at the beginning. And the beginning, for most Is raelis, was the ship that brought them-often penniless and with only a suitcase or two-to their new homeland. What started out as a simple plan to interview some newcomers turned into an experience I shall never forget. When I returned to Israel in 1959, officials suggested that I might like to board a ship at sea and talk to a group of immigrants. It would be a little like meeting the May flower offshore, they suggested, and stepping onto a strange new shore with the Pilgrims. A week later, aboard a pilot's launch a few miles out from the port of Haifa, I struggled to keep my footing as we bobbed beneath the bow of the 3,200-ton Artsa, out bound from Marseille, and tried to match her speed. The pilot motioned me up a rope ladder that dangled just within reach. I grabbed it and for a moment swung helplessly above the rushing bow wave as the pilot boat pulled away. Then I clambered up the ladder and flopped ungrace fully onto the crowded deck. The scene about me was strangely familiar. I remembered it from old photographs of immigrant ships arriving at Ellis Island-the same jumble of belongings, the same children sandwiched amid suitcases and bulging parcels, and the same ex *See, in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: "An Archeologist Looks at Pal estine," December, 1947; "On the Trail of King Solomon's Mines," February, 1944; and "Geography of the Jordan," December, 1944, all by Nelson Glueck. 396 Border Settlers Carry Tools of Peace and War Young soldiers labor at Kibbutz Almagor, a collective farm where residents share work and wealth. Members of Nahal, the Pioneering Fighting Youth, they combine mil itary training with agricultural toil. Such settlers form the backbone of Israel's program to establish vil lages near Arab borders. After completing their army service, the young men and women may be come civilian members of a kib butz, return to school, or take up other work. Clips hold a subma chine gun in readiness on the trac tor's mudguard. The Jordan River flows into the Sea of Galilee (right); Syria lies beyond the river.