Project Part 05: Survey for Silica Raw Materials in South Tyrol 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

Prospektion Südtirol 2009 


In 2009, the scope of the research activities for project part 05, SFB HiMAT was extended to South Tyrol.  The following briefly describes the methods and results of a silica raw material survey.  The reconnaissance was conducted in two stages.  The initial survey took place in the spring, while the second during the summer months.  A comparison of stone artifacts from the collection of the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology[1], as well as, from private collectors[2] illustrates, that during the Mesolithic period raw material was mainly imported from the neighboring Trentino region.   Respectively, the deposits of the Val di Non and the Lessini Mountains (Scaglia Rossa, Scaglia Variegata Alpina, Biancone Formation) play an important role.  Moreover, rock crystal is a significant raw material in the South Tyrolean region.
Only a fraction of the examined artifacts could be assigned to local (i.e. South Tyrolean) deposits.  Two principal geological formations provide raw material for the production of stone tools.   The Buchenstein Formation, which is found primarily in the Schlern region, around the Seiser Alp and in the catchment area of the Val Gardena.  These are Jurassic limestones, which contain chert nodules, as well as platy chert.  The Puez Formation, the second source, is located within the Puez-Odle-Gardenaccia Plateau and the Fanes-Geisler Alp region.   Materials from this formation contain remains of lime marls from the Jurassic to Cretaceous transition period, and to some extent provide an excellent raw material source.  Smaller local deposits like the jasper from the Auener Joch only play a minor role in stone tool production.                                                             

This research suggests that regular flint mining at local raw material deposits cannot be assumed in South Tyrol.  There are too few finds produced from local raw material that speak against it, as well as the easy availability of the chert. For example, the deposits of the Buchenstein Formation, which is the most prominent local raw material used in prehistoric times, is easily obtained without any tools by simply picking it from the surface area (specifically the platy chert).  In similar fashion, the chert from the Puez Formation only has to be picked out of the natural scree.
In addition, an examination of two rock crystal deposits in the Zillertal Alps (at the Weitenberg Alp and alongside the so called Glidergang) afforded a clear distinction between different rock crystal deposits––a distinction that was not made until now. The typical north alpine brick-red radiolarian chert could not be detected in any of the natural deposits, but is present in the archaeological remains.  In this case transport of raw material from the North Tyrolean Rofan Mountains (i.e. from the Grubalacke) to the south may be assumed. However, further investigations are necessary.

This work was carried out with the support of a Country South Tyrol research grant.

(Report by M. Brandl)

[1] Many thanks to G. Kaufmann, Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano

[2] Many thanks to K. and N. Kompatscher, A. Videsott, G. Niederwanger and J. Cappelletto as researcher


back to PP05
to HiMAT-Homepage 


Nach oben scrollen