Mining Activities in Serabit el-Khadim

Turquoise, which has been mined at Serabit el-Khadim, is a type of phosphate aluminum with the general formula CuAl6 (PO4)4(OH) 8.4H2O. It appears as a blue-green mineral in the fissures of sandstone in the form of veins and nodules. Egyptians had used it for jewelry since the Neolithic Period and it is clear that one of its main sources was the region of South Sinai. The term Khetyou-Mefkat (Terraces of Turquoise) can be read in most of the texts on the mining expeditions to South Sinai. For example, an inscription left at Wadi Maghara by an expedition in year two of the reign of the Pharaoh Pepy II (2300–2206 B.C.) reads: "Royal Mission of the Treasurer of the lord Hepy to the Terraces of Turquoise."

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Inscription of Sebek-khereb

The inscription gives us a clear example of the writing left by the Egyptian mining expeditions, illustrating important features of the first miners of the world.
This inscription is dated to year 44 of the reign of Amenemhat III (1855–1808 B.C.).
In the 16 lines of text, Sebek-Khereb follows the conventional formula of Middle Kingdom stelae (2055–1650 B.C.). He begins by citing the opening of the mine and giving the date according to the reign of the king, then invites people who are reading this text to make offerings to his soul, like bread, beer, and ghee. Afterwards, he talks about the events of the expedition and he underlines the offering he made to the goddess Hathor.


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