Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2014

21 January 2016

Prehistoric Copper Mining in Europe 5500-500 BC

William O’ Brien

Prehistoric Copper Mining in Europe 5500-500 BC

City: Oxford

Year: 2014

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Description: Hardback, 416 p., 130 b/w figures, 23,4 x 15,6 cm


This volume examines prehistoric copper mining in Europe, from the first use of the metal eight thousand years ago in the Balkans to its widespread adoption during the Bronze Age. The history of research is examined, as is the survival of this mining archaeology in different geological settings. There is information on the technological processes of mineral prospecting, ore extraction, and metal production, as well as the logistics and organization of this activity and its environmental impact. The analysis is broadened to consider the economic and societal context of prehistoric copper mining and the nature of the distinctive communities involved.

The study is based on a review of field data and research produced over many decades by the collaboration of archaeologists and geologists in a number of different countries, and covers such famous mining centres as the Mitterberg in Austria, Kargaly in Russia, the Great Orme in Wales, and those in Cyprus, from where the name of this metal derives. These regional studies are brought together for the first time to present a remarkable story of human endeavour and innovation, which marks a new stage in the mastery of our natural resources.


List of illustrations  [xiii]
List of tables [xix]

1. Europe: the birthplace of mining? [1]
The geological environment [2]
The human environment [13]
A history of research [16]
The archaeology of prehistoric copper mines [27]
Prehistoric copper mines in Europe [32]

2. South-east Europe [37]
The first metallurgy in Europe [38]
Early copper mining in Serbia [39]
Early copper mining in Bulgaria [47]
Discussion [53]

3. Eastern and central Mediterranean [55]
Greece and the Aegean Islands [55]
Cyprus: island of copper [58]
Sardinia and Corsica [67]
Italy [67]

4. Iberia and the western Mediterranean [77]
South-west Spain [79]
Portugal [89]
South-east and central-east Spain [90]
Northern Spain [92]
Conclusions [103]

5. France and the western Alps [105]
Early copper mines in the Languedoc [105]
Other mines in southern France [115]
The French Alps [117]
Discussion [122]

6. Northern Europe [125]
Ireland [125]
Britain [138]
Scandinavia [155]

7. Central and eastern Europe [161]
The first metal workers [161]
The Austrian mines [163]
The German mountain ranges [185]
Slovakia [186]
Eurasia [187]

8. Technology and work practices [195]
The search for copper [195]
The approach to mining [199]
Methods of rock extraction [203]
The mining environment [216]
The treatment of copper ore [221]
Ore to metal [229]
Ancillary activities [233]
Conclusions [242]

9. Mining, community, and environment [245]
Mining as community [247]
Mining as belief [253]
Mining and settlement [263]
Mining and the environment [269]

10. Mining, economy, and society [279]
A mining economy [279]
Copper resources and social power [290]
Boom to bust [298]

References [303]
Index [341]


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