Copper has been traded in the eastern Mediterranean coastal area since the Chalcolithic Period, or Cooper Age, when man first discovered the metal and started using it for tools and weapons (4500-3500 BC).
Mines in Cyprus (named for copper: cypros), the Balkans, the Sinai and Jordanian Mountains were sources of raw material, and the metal was fashioned in many other places in the ancient world. Wadi Gaza, which runs from Dimona and Beer Sheba, had some 35 settlements on it’s banks, 6 of which are known to have had smelters for the ore.
Gaza, with its port located at the junction in the trade routes between Africa, Europe, Arabia and East was a major trading post.
The trade in copper and particularly arms and weapons altered tremendously in the 12th CB.C, with the advent of the iron Age. The use cooper for utensils and vessels for cooking, eating, and drinking continued and developed along with the artist uses of the metal.
The craft in Gaza in more modern times continues to be concerned with implements for the preparation of food and allied household tasks.
In the sixties a workshop was set up in Gaza’s old city near the now vanished Khan El Zeit to make cooper posts, and this venture was very successful prior to the 1967 war.
On the first day of the conflict the eldest and best-known craftsman from the leading family in this field was killed, starting the latest contraction of the industry.
Few craftsmen remain in this business due to the massive decline in demand and available markets, and there are few items in daily usage demanding these skills.
Any item to be used for food must be tinned inside, involving special cleaning and plating skills, a trade in itself requiring renewal every six months.
In the past, a network of collectors worked in the streets collecting copperware, taking it to the tinsmiths workshops in El-Shaijaiya area and returning the newly tinned items to their homes.
One item that will be instantly recognized is the traditional coffee-pot, with built in chimney for hot embers to keep the coffee hot, used for ceremonial occasions.
Guide to Crafts In Gaza.
Added By: Arch. Lina A. AbuHamra.