Evolutions in mining between the second Iron Age and the beginning of the Roman Period in South-Western Gaul. The case of the Pyrenean district for argentiferous copper of the Arize Massif


Emmanuelle Meunier

CENIMAT/I3N, Departamento de Ciência dos Materiais, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, Quinta da Torre, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal

Mining archaeology, with a continual interdisciplinary dialogue, aims to define the different aspects of mining exploitations, depending on their chronological context. My PhD work focused on the study of the Pyrenean district for argentiferous copper of the Arize Mountains (France). The main part of the work was the archaeological field surveys and excavations in order to be sure of the chronology of the mining activity. Collaboration with geologists and pedo-anthracologists allowed exploring technical and environmental aspects of the exploitation. Three stages of ancient activity were identified in the Arize district: the first one between 4th and 3rd c. BC, the second one between the 2nd c. BC and the reign of Augustus and the third one during the 14th c. AD. A comparison with other mines studied in SW Gaul dated between the 2nd Iron Age and the Roman Period lead to determine regional patterns of mining activity. The first data about extractive metallurgy also open questions about the production of silver from these complex ores (tetrahedrite, tennantite).