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Autonomous Workshop for Prehistoric Flint Mining / Activity

Research objective

The Autonomous Workshop for Prehistoric Flint Mining (Polish acronym: SPPGK) is involved in a line of study which has been present in Polish Archaeology since 1919, and at the Institute since its inception in 1954. So far, the research conducted at the Institute centred around the exploitation, processing and distribution of flint rock form the Palaeolithic to Iron Age in Poland and Europe. The establishment of the SPPGK Workshop reflected the circumstance that the mining of various flint types was among key features – on a European scale – of the Visa basin’s prehistory. There are several dozen (perhaps even more than a hundred) flint mines in Poland, of which more than twenty have been initially explored (in a varying degree).  Among them are top-class landmarks worthy of UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites, such as the Krzemionki Opatowskie flint mine. Some of the exquisitely preserved mines, known for several decades now, have never been excavated and even their previously established dating has now been put in doubt.

The chief task for SPPGK Autonomous Workshop is to study prehistoric flint mining in Poland and Europe by means of:

  1. Coding/cataloguing the flint material and other material, and the documenting of research into mines and related sites conducted  so far;  publishing the findings;
  2. producing syntheses of already published findings, drawing on new theoretical currents emerging in the archaeology of the late 20th century and early 21st century;
  3. launching new fieldwork in this area of study;
  4. developing optimal research methods and archaeological heritage conservation arrangements in respect of prehistoric minefields; and popularising this branch of archaeology;
  5. hosting academic conferences within the research agenda of the SPPGK Autonomous Workshop;
  6. continuing and expanding the existing international collaboration in the study of prehistoric flint mining.

Results

Research into prehistoric mining has hugely contributed to the successes of the IAE PAN Institute and Polish Archaeology. Out of the more than 500 works on prehistoric flint mining published in Poland, the Institute accounts for around a third. Over the six decades of Institute activities, this subject was taken up, in a varying degree, by leading researchers (listed chronologically): Stefan Krukowski, Zofia Podkowińska, Zygmunt Krzak, Anna Dzieduszycka-Machnikowa, Waldemar Chmielewski, Romuald Schild, Jacek Lech, Maria Chmielewska, Bogdan Balcer and Jerzy Kopacz. The Institute’s greatest achievements in the field are presented in the works which are referred to below (and the works referenced therein). The full list of these researchers’ works on prehistoric flint mining, published to 1994, can be found in “Bibliography of Polish works on prehistoric flint mines, flint mining and allied activities”, compiled by Danuta Piotrowska (Archaeologia Polona, vol. 33:1995, pp. 557-590).

1955podkowinska 1965krzak 1971 Schild 1975 Balcer
1976 Saspow 1977 Polany Kolonie 1978 Krzak 1980 Jacek Lech
1981 1982 Lech 1985 Tomaszw 1988 Chmielewska
 1995 ArchPolona  1997 Man and Flint  1997 Z badan  2002 Balcer
 2008 BAR  2012 Grimes Graves    

 

Works underway

  • A monograph of Wierzbica “Zele” prehistoric mine, dated as Bronze Epoch and researched in 1979–1988, with follow-up supplementary research conducted at a later time (H. & J. Lech, D. Werra, Annexes: J. Alfolter,  J. Małecka-Kukawka, at al.).
  • Monograph Kopalnia krzemienia w Spiennes (Belgia), koniec V - połowa III tys. p.n.e.. Prehistoryczny zabytek z listy światowego dziedzictwa UNESCO [Flint mine in Spiennes (Belgium), from ca 4000 BC to ca 2500 BC. Prehistoric landmark listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Site], by H. Collet, A. Hauzeur, J. Lech; editor: J. Lech; volume editing secretary: D. Werra. The Spiennes flint mine was discovered in 1867, sparking scientific research of prehistoric flint mining in Europe and the world. In 2000 the Spiennes complex was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Collective monograph Prehistoric Flint Mines in Europe, J. Lech, A. Savill (eds),   (editorial secretary: K. Adamczak), being produced in collaboration with the UISPP Commission: Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times (see below). This work will present the most important prehistoric flint mines in Europe.
  • Monograph of the Neolithic flint mine in Sąspowo, the first flint mine discovered and researched in Polish Jurassic Highland  (Kraków-Częstochowa Upland), (J. Lech, Annexes: J. Alfolter , J. Małecka-Kukawka at al.).
  • Dr K. Adamczyk studies flint mining among Funnelbeaker culture communities in Poland and its extent in Europe.
  • The SPPGK Workshop’s fieldwork in 2012 included noninvasive research of Borownia striped flint mine and excavations at Wierzbica „Zele” mine. Also, Mgr D. Werra took part in excavations at the Neolithic mining complex in Spiennes, Belgium (2010 and 2011).
  • As part of an effort to popularise prehistoric flint mining among the general public, Professor J. Lech, in 2011–2013, contributed to the Central Bank’s (NBP’s) project to issue two commemorative coins „Krzemionki Opatowskie”, with the face values of 20 zloty (silver) and 2 zloty (nordic gold), within the series “Landmarks of material culture in Poland”; the coins were brought into circulation on 18 July 2012.

 

 Folder Krzemionki opatowskie PL-1

 

Folder Krzemionki opatowskie PL-2

 

Paris Conference, 10–11 September 2012

The 5th Conference of the UISPP Commission: Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times was held at Institut d’Art et d’Archéologie, Université de Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne on 10 and 11 September 2012, attended by 33 Commission members from 12 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States), including the entire team of the Autonomous Workshop.

02      03

After accepting the report on the Commission’s activities in 2007–2012, those present elected a new Presidium for 2012–2018, comprising: President, Prof. dr hab. Jacek Lech (Poland); Vice-president, Dr Françoise Bostyn (France); Secretary, Dr Anne Hauzeur (Belgium); members, Prof. Dr François Giligny (France) and Alan Saville (UK). The agenda for the coming three years was adopted and it was agreed that the 6th Conference, „Silicious rock extraction and prehistoric lithic economies,” would be held in early September 2014, in the course of the 17th Congress of the UISPP in Burgos, Spain. The 7th Conference would follow the next year, in Mons, Belgium, a city which has been nominated as 2015 European Capital of Culture, and which has within its administrative boundaries the Spiennes flint mine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Attendees at that Conference will have an opportunity to acquaint themselves with the latest research findings and the project’s development.

In the scientific part of the Conference, 14 lectures were delivered, including three by Commission members from Poland. These were (in order of presentation):

  • Dagmara Werra (IAE PAN): Bronze Age workshop places from the Wierzbica ‘Zele’ flint mine (Poland) in the light of recent research.
  • Jolanta Małecka-Kukawka (IA UMK): ‘Tools’ from workshop places at the Wierzbica ‘Zele’ flint mine (Bronze Age), Poland.
  • Kamil Adamczak (IAE PAN): Workshop places of the Neolithic community at the Ćmielów settlement (Poland) and their connections with flint mines: a new approach.

Recent publications:

2011

  • H. & J. Lech, K. Adamczak, D. Werra, Extraction methods in the Bronze Age at the Wierzbica ‘Zele’ flint mine site (Central Poland): a model, [w:] Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the UISPP Commission on Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times (Madrid, 14-17 October 2009), M. Capote, S. Consuegra, P. Díaz-del-Río, X. Terradas (eds), Oxford 2011, s. 109-116. “BAR Interntional Series” t. 2260.
  • J. Lech, Danubian organization of flint mining in southern part of the Polish Jura: a study from Sąspów near Cracow, [w:] M. Capote, S. Consuerga, P. Díaz-del-Río, X. Terradas (eds), Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference of the UISPP Commission on Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times (Madrid, 14-17 October 2009), Oxford 2011, s. 117-128. “BAR Interntional Series” t. 2260.
  • J. Małecka-Kukawka, D. Werra, O możliwościach i ograniczeniach metody traseologicznej w badaniach masowych materiałów archeologicznych z kopalń krzemienia, „Archeologia Polski” 56 (1-2): 2011, s. 135-164.
  • D. Werra, rec. pracy: Anders Högberg, Lithic in the Scandinavian Late Bronze Age. Sociotechnical change and persistence, BAR International Series, Oxford 2009, ss. 303, tabl. 126, ryc. 223, „Przegląd Archeologiczny” 59: 2011, s. 185-194.
  • D. Werra rec. pracy: Anders Högberg, Lithic in the Scandinavian Late Bronze Age. Sociotechnical change and persistence, BAR International Series, Oxford 2009, 303 pp, 223 figs, 126 tabl., „Archaeologia Polona” 47: 2009 (2011), s. 296-299.

2012

  • I. Longworth, G. Varndell , J. Lech, Excavations at Grimes Graves, Norfolk, 1972-1976. Fascicule 6: Exploration and excavation beyond the deep mines, London 2012: Published for the Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum Press.
  • J. Lech, Przemiany kulturowe w prehistorii w świetle badań górnictwa krzemienia: poszukiwanie rytmu, [w:] B. Gediga, A. Grossman, W. Piotrowski (red.), Rytm przemian kulturowych w pradziejach i średniowieczu, Biskupin-Wrocław 2012, s. 189-231.
  • J. Lech, Monety. Zabytki Kultury Materialnej w Polsce: Krzemionki Opatowskie, Warszawa 2012, NBP Narodowy Bank Polski, p. 6. Brochure for the issue of Krzemionki Opatowskie commemorative coins with the face values of 20 złoty and  2 złoty. Also in English and German.

Conferences

The SPPGK Autonomous Workshop for Prehistoric Flint Mining of IAE PAN Institute organised three national academic conferences in 2012, held at the Institute’s seat in Warsaw on 12 January, 26 April and 18 May 2012. A brief opening address to the first conference, which marked an official inauguration of the Autonomous Workshop, was delivered by the Head of the Institute, Prof. dr hab. Andrzej Buko.

I Konferencja 12 stycznia 2012 r

I Academic Conference, Autonomous Workshop for Prehistoric Flint Mining of IAE PAN Institute, Warsaw, 12 January 2012

 I-Konferencja SPPGKProgram                   I Konferencja

 

II Konferencja 26 kwietnia 2012 r.

II Academic Conference, Autonomous Workshop for Prehistoric Flint Mining of IAE PAN Institute, Warsaw, 2012

 II-Konferencja SPPGK Program

 

III Konferencja 18 maja 2012 r.

III Academic Conference, Autonomous Workshop for Prehistoric Flint Mining of IAE PAN Institute, Warsaw, 18 May 2012

 

 III-Konferencja-SPPGK-Program               zdjcie z III Konf

Collaborating establishments

Archaeology Workshop at Igołomia, Team for Mountain and Upland Archaeology in Kraków, IAE PAN Institute
Head: dr Krzysztof Tunia

Coding/cataloguing flint material from Sąspowo mine research, safe-keeping of  Sąspowo collections, contribution to selected thematic projects.  There are plans to publish a work on flint artefacts storage by Prof. dr hab J. Lech and Dr Krzysztof Tunia.

01 Igolomia        02 Igolomia

Traseology Workshop, Institute of Archaeology, Nicolaus Copernicus University (UMK) in Toruń
Head: dr hab. Jolanta Małecka-Kukawka, prof. nadzw. UMK

Traseological research into selected flint artefacts from the mine. Specialist contributions to monographs and articles produced for publication by SPPGK Autonomous Workshop.

Department of Physics, Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW
Head: prof. zw. dr hab. Krzysztof Dołowy

Analysis of siliceous rocks using the Department’s specialist equipment. Prof. K. Dołowy’s participation in quantitative analyses to study shaft sizes, amounts of processed rock and the raw material mined, inputs of miner labour. Participation in analyses of shaft fill dynamics and quantitative/qualitative analyses of mining tools effectiveness.

British Museum, Department of Prehistory and Early Europe (Londyn)
dr Ian Longworth and dr Gillian Varndell

A cooperative project initiated in 1974 (J. Lech) was completed in 2012 with the publication of the last volume on research into the Grimes Graves flint mine in East Anglia, conducted by the British Museum in 1972–1976. Prof. J. Lech attended an 11 July 2012 meeting at the British Museum to wrap up the collaborative project carried out from 1995 under a bilateral agreement between the British Museum and the IAE PAN Institute.

The UISPP Commission: Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times; President, Dr Françoise Bostyn (to 10 September 2012); from 10 September 2012,   Prof. J. Lech has been the Commission’s President.

The UISPP Commission: Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times came into being at the 15th Congress of the UISPP in Lisbon in 2006, in response to a proposal put forward by Prof. J. Lech and Dr A. Hauzeur (Belgium), acting on behalf of a group of researchers, mostly from Europe. In 2007–2012, Prof. J. Lech was the Commission’s vice-president, and at the 5th Conference in Paris (10–11 September 2012) he was named its president.

The SPPGK Autonomous Workshop is working with the Commission on a collective monograph on Europe’s most important flint mines (cf. “Works underway” above). SPPGK members take part, and contribute to, the Commission’s conferences and publications on Prehistoric flint mining in Europe and the world.

The conference of UISPP Commission: Flint Mining in Pre- and Protohistoric Times was held in Paris, hosted by Institut d’art et d’archeologie, University of Paris 1 - Panthéon-Sorbonne. On 11 September, SPPGK members and collaborates presented these papers to the Conference (within the scope of the SPPGK research agenda):

Dr Dagmara Werra
Bronze Age workshop places from the Wierzbica ‘Zele’ flint mine (Poland) in the light of recent research.

Dr hab. Jolanta Małecka-Kukawka with UMK
‘Tools’ from workshop places at the Wierzbica ‘Zele’ flint mine (Bronze Age), Poland.

Dr Kamil Adamczak
Workshop places of the Neolithic community at the Ćmielów (Poland) settlement and their connections with flint mines: a new approach.