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19 July 2012
Bronze Age copper mining in Norway?

Copper mining has a long history in Norway, with mines being established from late 15th century CE onwards. But the industry might be a lot older - stretching all the way back to the Bronze Age.
     According to scientific consensus, Bronze Age Norwegians would have had to import all the copper from abroad, but archaeologist Anne Lene Melheim suggests they may actually have mined their own copper ore. "It might not have been a large scale operation, but this could radically change our perception of Norway in the Bronze Age," she points out. Melheim argues that findings from Southern Norway point towards domestic ore mining. Sites for extracting soapstone - adjacent to more recent copper mines - show that there was a prehistoric tradition for excavating rock.
     Artefacts found in a copper-rich area in Western Norway could have been used for bronze casting in a stone slab, while other tools from the same site may have been used as pick axes to extract the copper ore. Puzzling round stones with a carved groove, found in Hedmark in Eastern Norway, could be the heads of sledge hammers for mining.

Edited from ScienceNordic (14 July 2012)

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