Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes
|Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons)|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
Section of mines at Spiennes
|Criteria||i, iii, iv|
|UNESCO region||Europe and North America|
|Inscription||2000 (24th Session)|
The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are Europe's largest and earliest neolithic mines, located close to Walloon village of Spiennes, southeast of Mons, Belgium. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic (4300-2200 BC). The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 2000.
It is well known for its flint mines, which are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2000. The entry on the list describes them as " one of the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe" and cites the level of human technological development they demonstrate as justification for their inclusion.
The mines cover some 100 hectares of downland near Mons in Belgium and are interesting for showing the transition between opencast and underground mining for the flint nodules. The nodules were extracted using flint picks. The stones were then knapped into rough-out shapes of axes, and finally polished to achieve the final state.
The rough-outs were exchanged over a wide area, about 150 kilometres (93 mi), and were often polished at their destination. Polishing strengthens the final product, making the axe- or adze-head last longer. The smooth surface also aids the cutting action by lowering friction with the wood. The axes were used initially for forest clearance during the Neolithic period, and for shaping wood for structural applications, such as timber for huts and canoes.
The site is comparable with Grimes Graves and Cissbury in the United Kingdom, which were also sources of flint. Other hard rocks were used for making polished stone axes however. There are many locations in Britain where fine-grained igneous or metamorphic rocks were collected from screes or mined opencast, then roughed out locally before trading on to other parts of the country. Examples include the Langdale axe industry, Penmaenmawr and Tievebulliagh.
- "Neolithic Flint Mines of Petit-Spiennes : Official web site". Retrieved 2007-12-16.
- "Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons)". World Heritage List. UNESCO. 2000. Retrieved 2007-03-16.
- C. Guillaume, Ph. Lipinski & A. Masson: Les mines de silex néolithiques de la Meuse dans le contexte européen. Musées de la Meuse, Sampigny 1987. (French)
- F. Gosselin: Un site d'exploitation du silex à Spiennes (Hainaut), au lieu-dit "Petit-Spiennes". Vie archéologique 22, 1986, 33-160. (French)
- F. Hubert: Une minière néolithique à silex au Camp-à-Cayaux de Spiennes. Archaeologia Belgica, 210, 1978. (French)
- F. Hubert: L'exploitation préhistorique du silex à Spiennes. Carnets du Patrimoine n°22. Ministère de la Région wallonne, Direction générale de l'Aménagement du Territoire, du Logement et du Patrimoine, Namur 1997. (French)
- R. Sheperd: Prehistoric Mining and Allied Industries. (Academic Press, London 1980).
- Société de recherches préhistoriques en Hainaut: Minières néolithiques à Spiennes (Petit-Spiennes). 1997 (French)
- ICOMOS evaluation
- Collet, Hélène (2004). Les mines néolithiques de Spiennes : état des connaissances et perspectives de recherche. Section 10: The Neolithic in the Near East and Europe (in French). Oxford: Archaeopress. ISBN 1-84171-653-7. Retrieved 27 July 2011. "Actes du XIVème congrès UISPP, Université de Liège, Belgique, 2 - 8 septembre 2001"
- Collet H., Hauzeur A. & Lech J., 2008. The prehistoric flint mining complex at Spiennes (Belgium) on the occasion of its discovery 140 years ago In P. Allard, F. Bostyn, F. Giligny & J. Lech, 2008. Flint mining in Prehistoric Europe: Interpreting the archaeological records. European Association of Archaeologists, 12th Annual Meeting, Cracow, Poland, 19-24 September 2006 (BAR International Series 1891): 41-77.
- Media related to Spiennes at Wikimedia Commons