Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons) (UNESCO/NHK)

Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons) (UNESCO/NHK)


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The Neolithic flint mines at Spiennes, covering more than 100 ha, are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe. They are also remarkable for the diversity of technological solutions used for extraction and for the fact that they are directly linked to a settlement of the same period.

Source: UNESCO TV / © NHK Nippon Hoso Kyokai
URL: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1006/


Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes

The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are among the largest and earliest Neolithic flint mines of north-western Europe, located close to Walloon village of Spiennes. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic (4300&ndash2200 BC).

The mines occupy two chalk plateaux located to the south-east of the city of Mons. They cover an area essentially devoted to agriculture. The site appears on the surface as a large area of meadows and fields strewn with millions of scraps of worked flint. Underground, the site is an immense network of galleries linked to the surface by vertical shafts dug by Neolithic populations.

The Spiennes flint Mines are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines of north-west Europe. The mines were in operation for many centuries and the remains vividly illustrate the development and adaptation of mining techniques employed by prehistoric populations in order to exploit large deposits of a material that was essential for the production of tools and cultural evolution generally. They are also remarkable by the diversity of technical mining solutions implemented and by the fact that they are directly linked to a habitat contemporary to them.

In the Neolithic period, (from the last third of the 5th millennium until the first half of the 3rd millennium), the site was the centre of intensive flint mining present underground. Different techniques were used, the most spectacular and characteristic of which was the digging out of shafts of 0.8 to 1.20m in diameter with a depth down to 16 metres. Neolithic populations could thus pass below levels made up of large blocks of flint (up to 2m in length) that they extracted using a particular technique called &lsquostriking&rsquo (freeing from below with support of a central chalk wall, shoring up of the block, removal of the wall, removal of the props and lowering of the block). The density of the shafts is important, as many as 5,000 in the zone called Petit Spiennes (14 ha), leading to criss-crossing of pits and shafts in some sectors.

Stone-working workshops were associated with these mining shafts as is witnessed by numerous fragments of flint still present on the surface and which give its name to a part of the site, Camp à Cayaux (Stone Field). Essentially the production aimed at the manufacture of axes to fell trees and long blades to be transformed into tools. The standardisation of the production bears witness to the highly skilled craftsmanship of the stone-cutters of the flint of Spiennes. The vestiges of a fortified camp have also been discovered at the site comprising two irregular concentric pits at a distance of 5 to 10m. The archaeological artefacts discovered are characteristic of the Michelsberg culture discovered in the mining sector.

The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO&aposs list of World Heritage Sites in 2000.


Icon of Neolithic technology given enhanced protection by UNESCO

The Neolithic flint mines at Spiennes in Belgium, which cover more than 100 hectares, are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe and reflect an extremely high level of human technological development for the era. The people who dug the mines, some 6,000 years ago, are regarded as the oldest miners in the world, and the flint production they undertook occurred on an almost industrial scale with thousands of shafts and pits bored into the earth.

The flint mines were added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000 for providing exceptional testimony to early human inventiveness and application, marking a major milestone in cultural and technological development, and providing an outstanding example of Neolithic mining of flint. However, last month the importance of the site was given further recognition by being granted UNESCO’s “enhanced protection” status .

The granting of such protection can be made under three conditions: that the site be of the greatest importance to humanity, that it be protected by adequate domestic legal and administrative measures recognizing its exceptional cultural and historic value and ensuring the highest level of protection, and that it not be used for military purposes or to shield military sites.

The flint mines of Spiennes were actively used from 4,400 BC to 2,000 BC, with extraction carried out in open quarries and pits. A large diversity of methods were employed to extract the flint by open quarries, pits and networks of underground horizontal galleries. Vertical tunnels range from 30 to 40 feet deep. Shafts were sunk through the chalk layer vertically with galleries radiating out from the shafts. Unique to Spiennes, when the flint was exhausted above the bedrock, the rock layer was penetrated to reach the chalk layer below. This feature shows the mastery these Neolithic humans had of their local geology!

Mines were dug with only the aid of antler picks and bone shovels demonstrating an incredible feat based on the expansiveness of the site. Despite the miners' knowledge to leave pillars in the horizontal galleries for roof support, skeletons of workers have been found in collapsed shafts at Spiennes.

Flint is found in layers within beds of chalk and is an easy to shape material with sharp edges. From the early beginnings, humans used flint tools for personal use, for example, to make robust axes (to be used by hand or with a wooden grip). 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 flint mines at Spiennes show that Neolithic man was anything but primitive, and that our ancient ancestors achieved a lot more than they are typically given credit for.

Related video

April

April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.


Mons, UNESCO Route

  • Leave Mons to discover remarkable sites marked as UNESCO world heritage sites.

Cycling is a wonderful machine for going back in time! It allows you to reach and gently discover places steeped in a moving history, at your own pace. This mild morning in Mons, there’s a great atmosphere. You’re far from the Borinage stereotypes: the city has changed and it shows in its urban development and its plethora of museums. From the Grand Place, your bike will take you to the belfry and Mundaneum in a. Read more

Leave Mons to discover remarkable sites marked as UNESCO world heritage sites.

Cycling is a wonderful machine for going back in time! It allows you to reach and gently discover places steeped in a moving history, at your own pace. This mild morning in Mons, there’s a great atmosphere. You’re far from the Borinage stereotypes: the city has changed and it shows in its urban development and its plethora of museums. From the Grand Place, your bike will take you to the belfry and Mundaneum in a few pedal strokes. Continue to discover this heritage along the RAVeL towards the Grand Hornu. On approach to the site, you will enter another world, as if you’d opened some scenery doors built for the glory of capitalism. The Grand Hornu is isolated from the world on purpose. Everything has been thought up and designed for productivity. You can feel the historical significance of these places, as if cycling allowed you to immerse yourself, to take the time to observe and feel these places.


Culture in conflict

The purpose of the Hague Convention (1954) and its two protocols is the protection of cultural property in war time. The Working Group on Cultural Property (under the auspices of the Interministerial Commission for Humanitarian Law) aims to apply and monitor the convention, with all the institutions and parties concerned.

The application and implementation of the Hague Convention and its two protocols are coordinated in Belgium by the Working Group on Cultural Property of the Interministerial Commission for Humanitarian Law which brings together all the institutions and parties concerned.

The convention and the first protocol (1954, ratified by Belgium in 1960) plan for the creation of national registers of protected heritage, indicated by a blue and white icon. No register of this kind has yet been drawn up by Belgium. Furthermore, the treaty provides for special protection for sites where recorded heritage is stored. Finally, it prohibits belligerent parties from misappropriating cultural property and obliges them to return stolen cultural property.

The second protocol (1999, ratified by Belgium in 2010) attempts to correct the flaws fof the 1954 convention and protocol. Therefore, it tightens the definition of certain concepts (e.g. the notion of ‘imperative military need’) and extends the convention’s scope of application to internal conflicts.

Moreover, it proposes concrete measures to strengthen the convention and its two protocols’ control. For this purpose, a Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was created. A further innovation of the second protocol is the introduction of a register of cultural property with enhanced protection in the event of armed conflict. Said committee decided, at meetings held in 2013, to record three Belgian heritage sites in the register, which are:

  • the house and studio of Victor Horta in Brussels
  • the neolithic flint mines at Spiennes in Hainaut
  • the Plantin Moretus house-museum complex in AntwerpBelgium chaired the convention committee and bureau from 2012 to 2015.

During this period it focused on the development of synergies between the 1954 Hague Convention and the 1972 World Heritage Convention


Contents

Early settlements in the Middle Ages Edit

The first signs of activity in the region of Mons are found at Spiennes, where some of the best flint tools in Europe were found dating from the Neolithic period. When Julius Caesar arrived in the region in the 1st century BC, the region was settled by the Nervii, a Belgian tribe. A castrum was built in Roman (Belgica) times, giving the settlement its Latin name Castrilocus the name was later changed into Montes for the mountain on which the castrum was built. In the 7th century, Saint Ghislain and two of his disciples built an oratory or chapel dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul near the Mons hill, at a place called Ursidongus, now known as Saint-Ghislain. Soon after, Saint Waltrude (in French Sainte Waudru), daughter of one of Clotaire II’s intendants, came to the oratory and was proclaimed a saint upon her death in 688. She was canonized in 1039.

Like Ath, its neighbour to the north-west, Mons was made a fortified city by Count Baldwin IV of Hainaut in the 12th century. The population grew quickly, trade flourished, and several commercial buildings were erected near the Grand’Place. The 12th century also saw the appearance of the first town halls. The city had 4,700 inhabitants by the end of the 13th century. Mons succeeded Valenciennes as the capital of the county of Hainaut in 1295 and grew to 8,900 inhabitants by the end of the 15th century. In the 1450s, Matheus de Layens took over the construction of the Saint Waltrude church from Jan Spijkens and restored the town hall.

From 1500 to 1800 Edit

In 1515, Charles V took an oath in Mons as Count of Hainaut. In this period of its history, the city became the target of various occupations, starting in May 1572 with the Protestant takeover by Louis of Nassau, who had hoped to clear the way for the French Protestant leader Gaspard de Coligny to oppose Spanish rule. After the murder of de Coligny during the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre, the Duke of Alba took control of Mons in September 1572 in the name of the Catholic King of Spain. This spelled the ruin of the city and the arrest of many of its inhabitants from 1580 to 1584, Mons became the capital of the Southern Netherlands.

On 8 April 1691, after a nine-month siege, Louis XIV’s army stormed the city, which again suffered heavy casualties. From 1697 to 1701, Mons was alternately French or Austrian. After being under French control from 1701 to 1709, the Dutch army gained the upper hand in the Battle of Malplaquet. In 1715, Mons returned to Austria under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). But the French did not give up easily Louis XV besieged the city again in 1746. After the Battle of Jemappes (1792), the Hainaut area was annexed to France and Mons became the capital of the Jemappes district.

From 1800 to the present Edit

Following the fall of the First French Empire in 1814, King William I of the Netherlands fortified the city heavily. In 1830, however, Belgium gained its independence and the decision was made to dismantle fortified cities such as Mons, Charleroi, and Namur. The actual removal of fortifications only happened in the 1860s, allowing the creation of large boulevards and other urban projects. The Industrial Revolution and coal mining made Mons a center of heavy industry, which strongly influenced the culture and image of the Borinage region as a whole. It was to become an integral part of the sillon industriel, the industrial backbone of Wallonia.

Riots of Mons Edit

On 17 April 1893, between Mons and Jemappes, seven strikers were killed by the civic guard at the end of the Belgian general strike of 1893.

The proposed law on universal suffrage was approved the day after by the Belgian Parliament.

This general strike was one of the first general strikes in an industrial country.

Battle of Mons Edit

On 23–24 August 1914, Mons was the location of the Battle of Mons—the first battle fought by the British Army in World War I. The British were forced to retreat with just over 1,600 casualties, and the town remained occupied by the Germans until its liberation by the Canadian Corps during the final days of the war.

Within the front entrance to the City hall, there are several memorial placards related to the WW1 battles and in particular, one has the inscription:

MONS WAS RECAPTURED BY THE CANADIAN CORPS ON THE 11th NOVEMBER 1918: AFTER FIFTY MONTHS OF GERMAN OCCUPATION, FREEDOM WAS RESTORED TO THE CITY: HERE WAS FIRED THE LAST SHOT OF THE GREAT WAR.

Second World War Edit

During the Second World War, as an important industrial centre, the city was heavily bombed. [ citation needed ] During the Battle of the Mons Pocket US Army forces encircled and took 25,000 Germans prisoner in early September 1944. [3]

After 1945 Edit

After the war, most industries went into decline.

NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) was relocated in Casteau, a village near Mons, from Roquencourt on the outskirts of Paris after France's withdrawal from the military structure of the alliance in 1967. The relocation of SHAPE to this particular region of Belgium was largely a political decision, based in large part on the depressed economic conditions of the area at the time with the view to bolstering the economy of the region. A riot in the prison of Mons took place in April 2006 after prisoner complaints concerning living conditions and treatment no deaths were reported as a result of the riot, but the event focused attention on prisons throughout Belgium. Today, the city is an important university town and commercial centre.

  • The Doudou is the name of a week-long series of festivities or Ducasse, which originates from the 14th century and takes place every year on Trinity Sunday. Highlights include:
    • The entrusting of the reliquary of Saint Waltrude to the mayor of the city on the eve of the procession.
    • The placement of the reliquary on the Car d’Or (Golden Chariot), before it is carried in the city streets in a colourful procession that counts more than a thousand costumed participants.
    • The lifting of the Car d’Or on a paved area near the church of Saint Waltrude tradition holds that this operation must be successful for the city to prosper.
    • The Lumeçon fight, where Saint George confronts the dragon. The fight lasts for about half an hour, accompanied by the rhythmic "Doudou" music. The tradition of the processional dragon is listed among the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

    Tanks in town commemorates the liberation of Belgium during WWII by the 3rd Armored Division (United States), and is one of the largest gatherings of World War II tanks in the world.

    There are several public educational facilities in Mons:

      [fr] , CRM , a campus of the University of Louvain located in Mons since 1899. , UMons, founded in 2009 by a merger between the Faculté polytechnique de Mons and the University of Mons-Hainaut.

    Mons is located along the N56 road. It is also accessed via European route E42, which is a continuation of French Autoroute A2, linking the British WW1 battlefields of Mons with the Somme Battlefields, [4]

    Mons railway station opened on 19 December 1841.

    A small, general aviation airfield Saint-Ghislain Airport is located nearby for private aircraft.

    Mons has a typical Belgian oceanic climate with relatively narrow temperature differences between seasons for its inland 50° latitude, as a result of Gulf Stream influence.

    Climate data for Mons (1981–2010 normals, sunshine 1984–2013)
    Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
    Average high °C (°F) 5.8
    (42.4)
    6.7
    (44.1)
    10.5
    (50.9)
    14.2
    (57.6)
    18.3
    (64.9)
    21.0
    (69.8)
    23.5
    (74.3)
    23.2
    (73.8)
    19.4
    (66.9)
    15.0
    (59.0)
    9.7
    (49.5)
    6.2
    (43.2)
    14.4
    (57.9)
    Daily mean °C (°F) 3.2
    (37.8)
    3.5
    (38.3)
    6.5
    (43.7)
    9.2
    (48.6)
    13.2
    (55.8)
    16.0
    (60.8)
    18.2
    (64.8)
    17.8
    (64.0)
    14.7
    (58.5)
    11.0
    (51.8)
    6.7
    (44.1)
    3.8
    (38.8)
    10.3
    (50.5)
    Average low °C (°F) 0.5
    (32.9)
    0.3
    (32.5)
    2.5
    (36.5)
    4.2
    (39.6)
    8.2
    (46.8)
    11.0
    (51.8)
    13.0
    (55.4)
    12.6
    (54.7)
    9.9
    (49.8)
    7.0
    (44.6)
    3.7
    (38.7)
    1.4
    (34.5)
    6.2
    (43.2)
    Average precipitation mm (inches) 71.2
    (2.80)
    58.6
    (2.31)
    69.0
    (2.72)
    49.2
    (1.94)
    67.2
    (2.65)
    74.9
    (2.95)
    70.1
    (2.76)
    73.7
    (2.90)
    61.0
    (2.40)
    73.2
    (2.88)
    72.9
    (2.87)
    76.5
    (3.01)
    817.6
    (32.19)
    Average precipitation days 12.8 10.8 12.6 10.1 11.5 10.9 10.5 10.3 10.5 11.2 12.9 12.8 137.0
    Mean monthly sunshine hours 55 75 121 173 203 197 216 205 148 118 65 46 1,621
    Source: Royal Meteorological Institute [5]

    The town hosts a professional basketball team called Belfius Mons-Hainaut and a tennis tournament called the Ethias Trophy. It previously hosted the football club R.A.E.C. Mons, though the team has since disbanded. There is also a horse racing venue at Hippodrome de Wallonie in Mons.

    The centre consists largely of red brick houses. Although there are few old buildings and rarely new blue stone buildings, its use is generally limited to parts of the decorative walls. Much of the centre is made up of houses which are two or three storeys high. In commercial areas, the ground floor is used as commercial space, while other floors are used for housing. Generally behind the houses there is a small garden.

    The outskirts of the city are also generally made of brick terraced houses. They nevertheless have the largest green spaces in the front or rear. In more remote areas of the centre, there are four façades of the villas.

    After the Second World War the city experienced rather limited construction of buildings. Some public housing have been built in Ghlin, Hyon Jemappes and in the suburbs of the city. Since the late 1990s and especially since the arson [6] which took place in one of these buildings, the city undertook a policy of deconstruction [7] of these houses which is still in progress at the moment. A whole series of social buildings are evenly dispersed in the downtown and surrounding suburbs.

    16,5% [8] of the city's population lives in apartments (17% in Belgium) and 82.7% in single-family homes (82.3% in Belgium). Of the 82.7% who live in single family homes, only 26% (37.3% in Belgium) are separate houses, while 55.7% (44.4 in Belgium) are detached or terraced houses. That's pretty much a small town in Belgium. Large municipalities have in fact fewer single family homes, but many more apartments whereas the smallest towns have few apartments and a lot of single family homes. The figures show very clearly the strong presence of terraced houses rather than separate houses: it exemplifies the urbanization of downtown, but also urban cores such as Jemappes et Cuesmes.

    Main square Edit

    The main square is the centre of the old city. It is situated near the shopping street (pedestrian) and the belfry. It is paved in the manner of old cities and is home to many cafes and restaurants, as well as the town hall.

    The outskirts of the place is accessible by car, but it is forbidden to park or drive through the centre.

    Each year it is used as an action theatre called Lumeçon to stage a battle between Saint George and Dragon.

    The main square is also equipped with a fountain, which opened on 21 March 2006. It also hosts a Christmas market and sometimes an ice rink during the holiday period.

    The façade of the building called "au Blan Levrie" shows the care with which the city attempted to unite the old and the modern. It is the first authorised building in the main square which was made of stone to avoid fire incidents. It was originally built in 1530 in the Gothic style, for the Malaperts, a wealthy local family. In 1975, the architects A. Godart and O. Dupire were assigned to design a bank. They proceeded to gut the interior and conduct a precise survey of the whole before beginning the restoration project. The façade was completely restored, sometimes (as below) by extending the design of mouldings, but the fenestration proved impossible to restore as there were not enough clues from the remains of the original to do so. Therefore, "The choice was directed towards a contemporary discrete [style], appearing in second test [?]: they are steel frame whose profiles are thinner. » Impression yet reinforced by the way of which was treated at the entrance gate.[?]" [9]


    Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes

    The Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes are among the largest and earliest Neolithic flint mines of north-western Europe, located close to Walloon village of Spiennes. The mines were active during the mid and late Neolithic (4300&ndash2200 BC).

    The mines occupy two chalk plateaux located to the south-east of the city of Mons. They cover an area essentially devoted to agriculture. The site appears on the surface as a large area of meadows and fields strewn with millions of scraps of worked flint. Underground, the site is an immense network of galleries linked to the surface by vertical shafts dug by Neolithic populations.

    The Spiennes flint Mines are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines of north-west Europe. The mines were in operation for many centuries and the remains vividly illustrate the development and adaptation of mining techniques employed by prehistoric populations in order to exploit large deposits of a material that was essential for the production of tools and cultural evolution generally. They are also remarkable by the diversity of technical mining solutions implemented and by the fact that they are directly linked to a habitat contemporary to them.

    In the Neolithic period, (from the last third of the 5th millennium until the first half of the 3rd millennium), the site was the centre of intensive flint mining present underground. Different techniques were used, the most spectacular and characteristic of which was the digging out of shafts of 0.8 to 1.20m in diameter with a depth down to 16 metres. Neolithic populations could thus pass below levels made up of large blocks of flint (up to 2m in length) that they extracted using a particular technique called &lsquostriking&rsquo (freeing from below with support of a central chalk wall, shoring up of the block, removal of the wall, removal of the props and lowering of the block). The density of the shafts is important, as many as 5,000 in the zone called Petit Spiennes (14 ha), leading to criss-crossing of pits and shafts in some sectors.

    Stone-working workshops were associated with these mining shafts as is witnessed by numerous fragments of flint still present on the surface and which give its name to a part of the site, Camp à Cayaux (Stone Field). Essentially the production aimed at the manufacture of axes to fell trees and long blades to be transformed into tools. The standardisation of the production bears witness to the highly skilled craftsmanship of the stone-cutters of the flint of Spiennes. The vestiges of a fortified camp have also been discovered at the site comprising two irregular concentric pits at a distance of 5 to 10m. The archaeological artefacts discovered are characteristic of the Michelsberg culture discovered in the mining sector.

    The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO&aposs list of World Heritage Sites in 2000.


    Mons 2015 and its 5 new museums

    Not the European Capital of Culture for 2015, Mons has treated itself to five brand new museums to complement the entertainment and activities scheduled and the city's existing museums. Each of the five new museums is unique, which will delight all audiences.

    The Artothèque: the museum of museums

    An original project, the Artothèque is a veritable museum of museums. At the heart of the old, completely renovated Ursulines chapel, you will find the virtual collections of the riches that are not being exhibited in the other museums. The old chapel has transformed itself into a remembrance venue. It has also become a showcase promoting the trades and professions that are necessary for museums to function but that often go unappreciated.

    The musée du Doudou: the home of Mons' beating heart

    It's simple really: without the Doudou Mons would not be Mons. The Doudou, is the collection of festivities that take place during the Ducasse, which is a UNESCO Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage. The musée du Doudou introduces visitors to the battle between Saint George and the dragon the procesison of the Car d’Or and its influence on the year ahead for the city. This popular celebration which lasts several days marries folklore and religion, beliefs and history. It is full of local cultural riches that will make your visit unforgettable.

    The Belfry, a listed UNESCO monument, is the only baroc-style belfry in Belgium. This year, in line with the Mons 2015 festivities, the belfry has a new museum that will tell you its history and how its 49 bells have punctuated the daily lives of the people of Mons since 1672. The cherry on top of the cake is an exterior lift made of glass, that gives you an unbeatable view as you climb to the top of the belfry.

    Mons memorial museum (MMM)

    The MMM, Mons Memorial Museum pays homage to all those whose daily lives were turned upside down by war. Men, women, soldiers. so many witnesses whose history is revealed through day-to-day objects, letters, notebooks. When you leave the MMM you will better appreciate how war changes a city.

    SILEX’S Neolithic flint mines in Spiennes

    The SILEX’S Neolithic flint mines in Spiennes is an extraordinary site: 100 hectares of flint mines that have been only a stone's throw from Mons, since the dawn of time. More specifically since the Neolithic age. UNESCO was not wrong to include this venue as a world heritage site in 2000. The mines are still accessible today, although visits are limited to 5500 people per year. Despite this, the SILEX'S brand new interpretation center lets you discover the flint mines of Spiennes through a complete and thoroughly informative experience.


    Neolithic Flint Mines The mines are perhaps the only real reason to divert to Spiennes they cover more than 100 ha, are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe. They were actively used from 4400 - 2000 years B.C.

    Without appointment: From March to November, on the first Sunday of each month, from 10 to 16 o’clock.

    Groups from 10 persons : All the year round, by appointment only, tel: +32 (0) 65 35 34 78 or e-mail [email protected] . If you want to have a visit in English, send a short e-mail to the same address listed above.

    Costs: Adults €2.5, Children (must be at least 12 years old and accompanied by an adult) €1.25.

    The temperature in the mines is constant : from 8° to 10°C. So wear appropriate clothes. Rain-wear would be useful, as would walking or sports shoes, and a pair of trousers.

    The tours are run by volunteers and facilities are very basic. The visit includes a descent in the mines, by means of a vertical ladder which is 8 meters high. If you are uncomfortable with an unassisted climb of 8 meters or are claustrophobic then a visit would need extra consideration. However the welcome is very warm and you will receive a more thorough experience than at many other tourist sites.


    Michelsberg Culture (found in Spiennes, Mons, Belgium) Flint Tool. - 49×38×13 mm

    Michelsberg Culture (found in Spiennes, Mons, Belgium).

    Neolithic Period, circa 4500-3500 B.C.

    - Found in 1979 at Camp-à-Cayaux, near Spiennes (Mons), Belgium.
    - Then in the holdings of a private museum in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.
    - Acquired from this by the Dutch antique dealer W. Stormbroek.
    - Acquired as a group when it closed down in 2010. Since then in the inventory of the Galerie Alte Römer, Germany.
    - Spanish private collection.

    CONDITION: Unrestored, as found.

    PARALLELS: For similar material see Centre de Recherche Archéologique du Camp à Cayaux (Spiennes, Belgique).

    - Export license issued by the Ministry of Culture, Madrid, Spain.
    - Export license issued by Federal Authorities, Germany.

    The Michelsberg culture belongs to the Central European Late Neolithic. Its distribution covered much of West Central Europe, along both sides of the Rhine. A detailed chronology, based on pottery, was produced in the 1960s by the German archaeologist Jens Lüning. Its dates are c. 4400–3500 BC. Its conventional name is derived from that of an important excavated site on Michelsberg (short for Michaelsberg) hill near Untergrombach, between Karlsruhe and Heidelberg (Baden-Württemberg).

    The Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes occupy two chalk plateaux located to the south-east of the city of Mons. They cover an area essentially devoted to agriculture. The site appears on the surface as a large area of meadows and fields strewn with millions of scraps of worked flint. Underground, the site is an immense network of galleries linked to the surface by vertical shafts dug by Neolithic populations.
    The Neolithic Flint Mines of Spiennes are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines of north-west Europe. The mines were in operation for many centuries and the remains vividly illustrate the development and adaptation of mining techniques employed by prehistoric populations in order to exploit large deposits of a material that was essential for the production of tools and cultural evolution generally. They are also remarkable by the diversity of technical mining solutions implemented and by the fact that they are directly linked to a habitat contemporary to them.
    In the Neolithic period, (from the last third of the 5th millennium until the first half of the 3rd millennium), the site was the centre of intensive flint mining present underground. Different techniques were used, the most spectacular and characteristic of which was the digging out of shafts of 0.8 to 1.20m in diameter with a depth down to 16 metres. Neolithic populations could thus pass below levels made up of large blocks of flint (up to 2m in length) that they extracted using a particular technique called ‘striking’ (freeing from below with support of a central chalk wall, shoring up of the block, removal of the wall, removal of the props and lowering of the block). The density of the shafts is important, as many as 5,000 in the zone called Petit Spiennes (14 ha), leading to criss-crossing of pits and shafts in some sectors.
    The neolithic flint mines near Spienne in Belgium are part of UNESCO's world heritage since the year 2000 (Id. N°: 1006). With the second half of the 5. Millenium BC stone from the Spienne mine was worked in socially increasingly complex neolithic groups in that region. No doubt a source of wealth to that cultures.
    The groups of that area are refered to as Michaelsberg culture. They flourished from the mid 5th Millenium BC until the mid 4th Millenium BC in middle Europe. Their culture streched from Germany, northern France to Belgium. Around Spienne, it was finally replaced by the Seine-Oise-Marne culture, which did not use the nearby mine anymore

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    Watch the video: Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes Mons UNESCONHK