Project Part 06: Metal Mining & Trade



A.Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gerhard Tomedi


Gert Goldenberg
Michael Klaunzer
Ulrike Töchterle
Ingemar Gräber

Middle Ages/Modern Times:
Harald Stadler

University of Innsbruck
Institute of Archaeologies
Center for Ancient Cultures
Langer Weg 11
A-6020 Innsbruck


Report Ausgrabung Mauken A 2008 (german only)
Report Ausgrabung Mauken E 2008 (german only)

Abstract: Technical stages are often seen as archaeological ages (Childe 1944). Without any doubt new technologies had promoted the emergence of new economic systems. But no technical development had been so drastic and far reaching as the appearance of metal working. At the beginning in late Neolithic more or less bound to the upcoming of prestige goods like charms and embellishment, tools made firstly of pure copper and later of bronze effected far reaching changes in economy and so also in society.

Suddenly a new relationship between deliverers and recipients had arised. The keeping up of a system bound to prestige goods and technical high-grade tools demanded a steady inflow of raw material. As even recognized in Mesolithic and Neolithic trade routes for the support of raw material became opened. So it is clear that the Alpine region with the hugest potential of copper had raised to the centre of interest. The same is valid for the support of silver in mediaeval and early modern times when the mining district of Schwaz had become “the mother of all mines”.

Numerous analyses on metal artefacts prove that whole regions in Middle Europe and even up to the Nordic Zone were mainly provided with copper from Alpine sources. But in fact the sources of provenience of these important raw materials (fahlerz and chalcopyrite deposits) are beside a few exceptions only poorly explored.

To clarify the nature of the network of relationships between the local residents who provided the raw material from the alpine lodes or even artefacts to the adjacent groups, the research project “SSN” (see below) will be reviewed. The access to the database from this project will deliver important advices not only to the provenience of the raw material but also to different and regional-characteristic solutions concerning alloying and merging raw materials from different lodes. So the results should permit an assessment of intra-alpine metal production within the framework of the Bronze Age up to Iron Age in all of Europe.

Goal of the further investigations will be the impact of mining in the Alpine region above several periods from Neolithic (Copper Age) up to modern Ages as an "histoire à longue durée". The study will also include the development of melting processes, the refinement as processing steps and the connection and dependency of mining areas to settlements and the land-use in the circumscribed area (site exploitation analysis) further the cultural and social linkage as well as the trade connections to the encompassing areas.

In the course of the historical study of mining questions arise on the beginnings of mining activity in the Mediaeval Ages, which are hard to determine on the basis of written sources. Information is expected from the peat profiles about the beginning and the duration of early mining phases, which are not indicated in written sources.