Project description

The fahlore mining district of Schwaz/Brixlegg played an important role during the Early Bronze Age, when “fahlore-copper” became an essential raw material for the central European copper respectively bronze market. From the late Early Bronze Age on and especially during the Middle Bronze Age, the Mitterberg district dominated the copper supply. An estimated 20,000 tons of copper were produced in this region, mainly from chalcopyrite ore (“eastern Alpine copper”). The Mitterberg area can be considered as a starting point for technological and economical innovations in copper production (“Mitterberg-process”) and the associated occupation of the eastern and central Alps by specialized communities. Fahlore mining and metallurgy in the Schwaz/Brixlegg district reached a second prime during the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. In the Oberhalbstein, chalcopyrite ores were exploited from the end of the Middle Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. Due to a different geological genesis, a geochemically distinguishable type of copper is to be expected compared with the “eastern Alpine copper” and the “fahlore-copper”. Whereas the systematic archaeological investigation of mining and smelting sites in the Oberhalbstein is just at the beginning, settlement archaeology furnished strong evidence of secondary copper metallurgy.
Based on specialized (mining-)archaeological investigations, highly precise chronological data using dendrochronology, geochemical analyses and econometric evaluations, the joint project aims to carry out a comparative and diachronic study of these three important prehistoric copper mining districts. The aim is to reconstruct and to better understand the development and significance of the districts, their economic dynamics and the manifold interrelations within the network of alpine metal producers. The results will be integrated into the European context of Bronze Age and Early Iron Age metal economy.




Project management

Gert Goldenberg, University of Innsbruck (Research center HiMAT)

Thomas Stöllner, Ruhr-University of Bochum/German Mining-Museum Bochum

Ernst Pernicka, Curt-Engelhorn-Center (CEZ) Archaeometry Mannheim/University of Heidelberg

Philippe Della Casa, University of Zurich

Thomas Reitmaier, Archaeological service Graubünden

Nach oben scrollen