Project Part 05: Excavation at the Feuerstein, Kleinwalsertal, 2009



A.o. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Walter Leitner


Thomas Bachnetzer Bakk. phil. 
Mag. phil. Beatrix Nutz
Julia Hammerschmied Bakk. phil.

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

Am Feuerstein 


The archaeological excavation 2009 at the Feuerstein (1600 m above sea level) in the Gemsteltal/Kleinwalsertal (municipality Mittelberg, Vorarlberg) clearly confirmed Stone Age mining activities of radiolarian rock.
Trenches from former excavations were extended and brought important new results concerning finds and mining period.

One of the highlights was an oval shaped stone hammer to be attributed to the category of mining-tools. It is the second one in this category besides a stone hammer found in 2007. Together with two fist sized whetstones this makes a tool set that can be defined as mining equipment. The find spot of these tools is of special interest since Stone Age miners deposited them in an artificially knocked out pit in the bedrock. This was the only way the tools could be prevented from inevitably rolling down the exceedingly steep slope.

Gemstel Hammerstein

A few stone tools but many thousands of flakes found in the entire excavation area reveal that people came here solely to mine chert raw material. They knocked the radiolarian rock out of the primary deposit and subsequently reduced it to expose the valued core, this being finally worked into stone tools at their camp. Quality and quantity of the raw material suggest extraction and distribution on a supra-regional scale.

Radiocarbon-dates from a charcoal layer in the profile give evidence to mining activities during the 2nd half of the 3rd millennium BC.  Stone tools from hunter gatherer camps in the vicinity suggest that mining activities at the Feuerstein might date back to Mesolithic times.

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