The Prehistoric Society

Early Metal Mining in Continental Europe (Joint DAS lecture)

Prof. Dr. Thomas Stöllner, Institute of Archaeological Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

Annual joint Devon Archaeological Society event. Booking details to follow.

Although metal use and the exploitation of metal ore deposits had already started during the 5th millennium BCE in Continental Europe sustainable and long lasting mining concepts could not be established before the 2nd millennium BCE. The East and Central Alpine copper ore mining communities range among the first mining enterprises of this kind in European history. Copper ore mining and metal production enabled the transformation of an unsettled remote mountainous landscape to a successfully operated economic zone. By the first half of the 2nd millennium the Mitterberg-region developed to be the largest copper supplying zone in Central Europe and thus became a technical and economic model for other and later mining centres in the Alps. A further view to other regions in Europe and beyond demonstrates that the Eastern Alpine zone, though one of the best investigated examples, was not the only mining region in which small scale production strategies were replaced by new concepts and strategies. During the first half and mid 2nd mill. BCE many other mining districts saw similar changes often accompanied by further technical, social and economic evolutions that enabled far ranging logistic concepts and more stable agricultural and subsistence strategies for the prehistoric communities involved.

The lecture tries to contextualize the current state of research on different mining districts with a broader perspective on the Bronze and Early Iron Age communities in Central Europe.