LIFE AND WORK AT THE BRONZE AGE MINE OF PRIGGLITZ

The aim of the FWF-project is the interdisciplinary study of the supply structures and work processes of the late Bronze Age copper mining are located furthest east in the Alps. The project part based at the OeAI is focused on the supply of the miners with plant-based foods and covering their need for wood.

In the modern-day district of Neunkirchen copper was mined in the late Bronze Age. Here, in the mining area located furthest east in the Alps and the largest in Lower Austria, the coveted raw material is found especially in the form of chalcopyrite that was not only mined but also was smelted. Following the selective investigations of the mining in the 1950s, systematic excavations were carried out under the direction of P. Trebsch from 2010 - 2014.

Pre-industrial manufacturing processes


As has already been shown for numerous other sites (in the Eastern Alps in Hallstatt, on the Mitterberg or in the Tyrolean Lower Inn Valley) mining and smelting of ore requires a high degree of specialization – not only in relation to expertise but also in time requirement – so that clear division of labor and the outsourcing of supply structures are necessary. With regard to the supply structures and manufacturing processes several new discoveries have already been made for Prigglitz that relate to the manufacture of tools and meat processing.

The current project is particularly focused on the expansion of the models for the supply of the settlement and to their social and economic organization. How much copper and bronze was it possible to produce? How many people were involved in the processes? What special features can be identified in the supply of food? And how adequate was the supply situation for fire and building wood?

The archaeobotanical part of the project is based at the OeAI and includes large scale analyses of carpological remains as well as charcoal. The latter will also be evaluated according to dendrological and taphonomical parameters in order to determine not only the types of wood used for firing in the smelting process but also the wood quality.