Prehistoric mining was established in early times to ensure the supply with lithic raw materials. So far, in Vienna only the radiolarite ›mine‹ at the Antonshöhe in Mauer was known. Since 2017, extensive research is undertaken within the St. Veit Klippen Zone. The results revealed a mining landscape of international significance.
Prehistoric mining for raw materials used in the production of chipped stone tools is attested for present-day Vienna (Austria), however, our knowledge was for decades confined to the well-known site of Vienna-Mauer. Based on the geological situation in the southwest of Vienna, it was reasonable to assume that more extraction sites must have existed. This assumption was confirmed recently, when targeted geo-archaeological surveys identified approximately 30 so far unknown sites related to mining and processing of radiolarite, a siliceous rock preferably used for stone tools from the Palaeolithic to post-Neolithic times.
Primary goal of the current project is the summarising presentation of all identified geological outcrops and archaeological extraction sites of radiolarite and chert in the vicinity of Vienna, which can rightfully be defined as a prehistoric »mining landscape«. The focus of regular mining and quarrying can be attested for the Neolithic period, however, the use of the sought raw materials from this area continued also in later periods. Its spatial extent demonstrates the significance of this mining area, placing it amongst the largest known examples such as Krumlovský Les in south Moravia or the Bakony Mountains in western Hungary.
In order to highlight this significance, we plan to establish the term »Vienna Klippen Zone radiolarite« in raw material science, as well as the designation of the quarrying cluster as »MiningLandscapeVienna« (BergbauLandschaftWien). Additionally, we will attempt to place the mining sites into the cultural-historical setting of the Neolithic and Copper Age.
The following methods will be employed to fulfil our research goals:
This undertaking is intended as a framework project, which will be complemented by thematically related sub-projects to reveal prehistoric lithic resource management in this under-explored region. As demonstrated by our pilot studies, this mining area holds great potential for future research on an international scale.