The Arabian-Nubian Shield (ANS) is an exposure of Precambrian crystalline rocks on the flanks of the Red Sea. The crystalline rocks are mostly Neoproterozoic in age. Geographically - and from north to south - the ANS includes parts of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Yemen, and Somalia. The ANS in the north is exposed as part of the Sahara Desert and Arabian Desert, and in the south in the Ethiopian Highlands, Asir province of Arabia and Yemen Highlands.
The ANS was the site of some of man's earliest geologic efforts, principally by the ancient Egyptians to extract gold from the rocks of Egypt and NE Sudan. This was the most easily worked of all metals and does not tarnish. All of the gold deposits in Egypt and northern Sudan were found and exploited by Egyptians. The earliest preserved geologic map was made in 1150 BCE to show the location of gold deposits in Eastern Egypt; it is known as the Turin papyrus. New gold discoveries have been found in Sudan, Eritrea, and Saudi Arabia.
Pharonic Egyptians also quarried granite near Aswan and floated this down the Nile to be used as facing for the pyramids. The Greek name for Aswan, Syene; is the type locality for the igneous rock syenite. The Romans followed this tradition and had many quarries especially in the northern part of the Eastern Desert of Egypt where porphyry and granite were mined and shaped for shipment.
Precious and industrial metals, including gold, silver, copper, zinc, tin, and lead, have been mined in Saudi Arabia for at least 5,000 years. The most productive mine in Saudi Arabia, Mahd adh Dhahab ("Cradle of Gold"), has been periodically exploited for its mineral wealth for hundreds or even thousands of years and is reputed to be the original source of King Solomon's legendary gold. Today, mining at Mahd adh Dhahab is conducted by the Saudi Arabian Mining Company, Ma'aden. Deposits of iron, tungsten, mineral sands, copper and phosphates have been found in many locations. Mining in the Eastern Desert of Egypt and Sudan is limited due to shortage of water and infrastructure.