The ancient copper mines of Timna in Israel were in a scantly populated desert. Yet at times they were quite intensely worked, by so many men that in all likelihood water had to be brought in for them on the backs of donkeys. An expensive operation, to be sure, but the mines were still valuable enough that the Israelites and the Edomites fought over them for generations. Recent archaeology there has turned up interesting evidence about the men who lived in barracks and dug the copper from the ground.
Tunnel in the ancient mines.
In the richer burials, fragments of cloth have been found, made of finely spun wool. The weaving was simple, but the wool came in different shades of whitish to brownish to orangish, and some of it was dyed red or blue, and the weavers used both the natural and artificial colors to make patterns in the cloth. So now we can imagine the overseers of these mines, clad in wool tunics decorated with bands of red and blue.