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28 November 2015
Mining in the Alps dates back to the Bronze Age

Mining in the Alps dates back much further than previously thought - in the Austrian region of Montafon since the Bronze Age. Thanks to C14 dating, a group of researchers from Goethe University in Frankfurt led by Professor Rüdiger Krause of the Institute of Archaeological Sciences was able to detect in the course of prospecting in the Bartholomäberg region at a height of 1450 metres ancient traces of mining from the middle Bronze Age.
     The researchers also discovered that 2500 years later - towards the end of the Early Middle Ages - mining evidently even resumed there. That means that this is one of the oldest mining areas provable to date in a mountainous region of Europe.
     Professor Krause and his team have been researching for 15 years in the Montafon region. The objective is to explore early settlement history and early mining in this unique inner-Alpine 'settlement chamber' with Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements and Bronze Age castle buildings with stone walls up to 3 metres thick.
     The only other evidence of comparably ancient mining activity is in the Eastern Alps, for example in the  Mitterberg mining area, where Bronze Age miners dug galleries as far down as 200 metres and developed mining on the most intensive scale in this period in the Alps. "What significance our new site in Montafon had in the context of Bronze Age copper supply in the Alps will be seen when we examine it further", says Professor Krause.
     Excavations in the newly discovered mining area are due to commence next summer.

Edited from EurekAlert! (9 November 2015)

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