Early Middle Age Mining and Silver Production by Melle in France
The mines at Melle represent the best preserved silver mines from Carolingian times. Activities were based on a carstic mineralisation. The astonishing good preservation of the mines is explained by the fact that Carolingian exploitation was the only one happening to the rich occurrence of galena with 2 thousandth of silver. Firesetting was the main way of advancing. Activities took place from the beginning of the 7th to the end of the 10th century AD. Archaeologically all steps of production from mining to the first ore benefication still under ground to ore dressing on the surface by crushing to washing, smelting, and refining could be studied. Additional scientific research concentrated on pollution of the environment during Carolingian times, with effects still today, and on the reconstruction of vegetation on the base of abundant samples of charcoal. By experiments all steps of production became reproduced to check the reconstructions based on the archaeological records.