, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 211-221
Date: 16 Mar 2007

Analysis of the fuel wood used in Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age copper mining sites of the Schwaz and Brixlegg area (Tyrol, Austria)

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Abstract

Charcoal analysis was carried out as part of an interdisciplinary project focusing on the copper mining history of the former mining area of Schwaz and Brixlegg, a region pivotal as a copper source in prehistoric Europe. The goal was to use remains of carbonised wood to investigate environmental implications of prehistoric mining, as well as to gain new insight about the ancient mining technique of fire-setting. Charcoal samples from seven copper mining sites (Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age) were analysed. The results reveal a strong preference for coniferous wood as fuel in fire-setting, but not in ore smelting/roasting processes. Species composition at the ore-processing sites indicates moderate forest degradation processes caused by human intervention.

Communicated by H.-J. Beug.