Archaeometry: Geophysics and Mining Archaeology

2000 years of iron production in Hüttenberg   Archaeometric investigation of an ancient industrial site
FWF Project P20688-N19 (2008-2011)

The archaeometric investigations of the ancient mining region “Ferrum Noricum” involve a complex geophysical exploration of the smelting sites in the region of Hüttenberg together with archaeological examinations. Using geophysical prospection methods we discovered evidence of previously unknown potential archaeological find spots.

Project aims:

  • Delimitation of the ancient industrial zone via geophysical surveying and subsequent detailed prospection of find spots
  • Detection of historically transmitted smelting sites via systematic archaeometric and archaeological terrain investigations
  • Determination of petrophysical parameters of rock samples and archaeological samples as basis for the geophysical models and interpretations
  • Archaeomagnetic dating of smelting sites and ovens
Georg K Walach
Georg K Walach
Alexandra Lafner
Alexandra Lafner
Patric Stückler
Patric Stückler
Karin Gruber
Karin Gruber
Elisabeth Schnepp
Elisabeth Schnepp
Robert Scholger
Robert Scholger

Geophysical prospection

The combined interpretation of geophysical and archaeological information enables a detailed investigation of slag dumps and masonry far beyond the area of the excavation. Analyses of the magnetic anomalies and measurements of electric resistivity proved especially suitable. Measurements of electromagnetic conductivity were not successful due to the amount of slag pieces in the soil.

Magnetic characterisation of soils and rocks

Complementary to the geophysical surface measurements we conducted laboratory studies on soil samples and rocks which enable a differentiation between natural and anthropogenic magnetic minerals. On the basis of these results we were able to delimit several anomaly zones with an increased magnetic susceptibility of the soil, in which magnetic components of industrial origin predominate.

Archaeomagnetic dating

Archaeomagnetic dating uses the variation of the geomagnetic field in the time range of centuries to millennia for the dating of archaeological objects. New results from six melting furnaces, four smith’s hearths and one ore roasting hearth from the archaeological excavations in the area of Semlach/Eisner document the use as a melting spot and smelting site over a period of several centuries, for the whole Roman period.

Publications

Alexandra Lafner & Robert Scholger (2015, in press): Gesteinsmagnetische Charakterisierung von Böden und Gesteinen am Hüttenberger Erzberg.

Georg Walach (2015, in press): Geophysikalische Prospektion am Hüttenberger Erzberg.

Elisabeth Schnepp (2015, in press): Naturwissenschaftliche Datierungen auf der Grabung Semlach/Eisner bei Knappenberg (Kärnten).

Birch, T., Scholger, R., Walach, G., Stremke, F., Cech, B. (2013): Finding the invisible smelt: using experimental archaeology to critically evaluate fieldwork methods applied to bloomery iron production remains.
Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, Vol. 7, 1: 73-87, Springer.

Walach, G., Scholger, R. & Cech, B. (2011): Geomagnetic and geoelectric prospection on a roman iron production facility in Hüttenberg, Austria. (Ferrum Noricum).
Archaeological Prospection 18, 2: 149-158, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Patric Stückler (2010): Geophysikalische Prospektion im Raum der heimgesagten Sideritlagerstätte am Hüttenberger Erzberg. Masterarbeit Montanuniversität Leoben 2010.
(Masterarbeit Stückler 2010 als PDF)

Alexandra Lafner (2009): Magnetische Charakterisierung der Böden in der antiken Bergbauregion Ferrum Noricum (Raum Knappenberg/Kärnten). Masterarbeit Montanuniversität Leoben 2009.
(Masterarbeit Lafner 2009 als PDF)

Presentations

Birch, T., Cech, B., Scholger, R.,  Walach, G. Stremke, F. (2011): Finding the invisible smelt: using new attributes to find the furnace. Archaeometallurgy in Europe III, Bochum, Germany, 29.06.-01.07.2011. (abstract:) Metalla, 4, 237-238.

Scholger, R., Schnepp,E., Walach, G.K., Cech, B. (2010): Geomagnetic prospection and archaeomagnetic dating of Roman and Medieval iron smelting sites in Hüttenberg (Austria). 3. Mitteldeutscher Archäologentag, Halle (Saale), Deutschland, 07.-09.10.2010.
(Poster Archäologentag als PDF)

Stückler P. & Scholger R. (2010): Geophysikalische Prospektion im Raum der heimgesagten Sideritlagerstätte am Hüttenberger Erzberg. In: PANGEO 2010, Leoben, Austria, 15.-19.09.2010.
(abstract:) Journal of Alpine Geology, 52: 239, Leoben 2009

Walach, G.K. & Scholger, R. (2010): Geomagnetic and geoelectric prospection on a roman iron production facility in Hüttenberg, Austria (Ferrum Noricum). EGU General Assembly 2010.  Vienna, 02.-07.05.2010.
(abstract:) Geophysical Research Abstracts, 12, EGU2010-8007

Walach, G.K. & Scholger, R. (2010): Geophysical prospection of subsurface monuments in a highly noisy environment. In: PANGEO 2010, Leoben, Austria, 15.-19.09.2010.
(abstract:) Journal of Alpine Geology, 52: 250-251, Leoben 2009

Scholger, R. & Lafner, A. (2009): Magnetic characterisation of soils in a historical mining district (Hüttenberg, Austria). IAGA 11th Scientific Assembly, Sopron, Hungaria, 23.-30.08.2009.
(abstract IAGA 2009)

Scholger, R. (2009): Archäometrie im Raum Ferrum Noricum – Hüttenberg. In: Verband Bergbau, Geologie und Umwelt, Jahrestagung 2009, St. Veit, Österreich, 12.-14.06.2009.

Schnepp, E.; Scholger, R. (2008): Archaeomagnetic dating of iron smelting kilns in Semlach, Knappenberg, Austria. - in: Early iron in Europe, prehistoric, roman and medieval iron production. Hüttenberg, Austria, 08.-12.09.2008.

Walach, G. (2008): Systematic geophysical survey on the site Semlach/Eisner, Hüttenberg, Carinthia, Austria. - in: Early iron in Europe, prehistoric, roman and medieval iron production. Hüttenberg, Austria, 08.-12.09.2008.

Walach, G.(2008): Result of geophysical survey in the "Ferrum Noricum" area, Hüttenberg, Carinthia, Austria. - in: Early iron in Europe, prehistoric, roman and medieval iron production. Hüttenberg, Austria, 08.-12.09.2008.

Walach, G.; Scholger, R.; Schnepp, E.; Cech, B.(2008): Geomagnetic prospection and archaeomagnetic dating of Roman and Medieval iron smelting sites in Hüttenberg (Austria). - in: PANGEO 2008. Wien, 22.-25.09.2008. (abstract:) Journal of Alpine Geology, 49, p. 116, Leoben 2008.


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