Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Europe, archaeology, prehistory, geology, mining studies, history of technology, aarchaeometallurgy, geology, mining history.
One of the most important landmarks in human achievement was the discovery of metal. From its first use 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, to its adoption in Europe some two millennia later, the exploitation of copper represents a new stage in humankind’s mastery of natural resources. This book is the first synthesis of research on prehistoric copper mining in Europe, c.5500–500 BC. The work is a broad-ranging analysis based on a comprehensive review of field data produced over many decades of research by archaeologists and geologists. The regional studies are brought together for the first time to create a single narrative covering different aspects of a remarkable story of human endeavour.
The core of the book is a review of the mining sites, commencing with the earliest known examples dating to the sixth and fifth millennia BC in the Balkans. This is followed by a treatment of Chalcolithic and Bronze Age copper extraction in different parts of Europe, from the east and central Mediterranean, Iberia, southern France, Britain and Ireland, the eastern Alps to as far as the Russian Urals. Among the largest mines examined are those in the Mitterberg district in Austria, Kargaly in Russia, the Great Orme in Wales, and those in Cyprus from where the name copper derives.
The archaeology and the geological setting of these mines are considered in detail. There is information on the technological processes of mineral prospecting, ore extraction and metal production, the organization of mining and its impact on the environment. The analysis is broadened to examine the economic relations and societal context of these mines and the distinctive communities involved.
The publication should appeal to those with an interest in the following areas: archaeology, prehistory, geology, mining studies and the history of technology. The regional surveys in the book will attract a specialized readership across Europe, with wider interest from academics working in the fields of archaeometallurgy, geology and mining history.