The Settlement and Mining History of Schwaz reflected by Pollen Analysis
The human impact on the environment was and is shaping the cultural landscape until today. With the establishment of permanent settlements in prehistory, human impact increased and man altered their surroundings strongly. The central European landscape changed dramatically by tilling and pasturing of the countryside as well as by the utilization of the woods. In the Alps besides usual settlement activities the exploitation of ore deposits and therewith the impact of mining activities on the vegetation has to be considered. Mineral extraction and ore processing consumed great amounts of raw material, but there was also a big demand on eatables and things for daily life for the maintenance of the miners.
The development of mining areas and its impact on the land use regime in Europe has only poorly been studied until now. Only a few analyses show single aspects of mining, e.g. heavy metal deposition in the vicinity of ore smelting areas, the exploitation of woodlands for charcoal production and for fire-setting in the mines. First palynological records in mining areas of the Eastern Alps point out that the palynology of mining is hardly distinguishable from the usual agricultural land use. The higher demand on eatables for the maintenance of miners induced an increase in farming activities, which caused drastic changes in the surrounding vegetation and the palynological signal of agriculture interfered with the signal of mining.
This recent palynological analysis of the sediments of the fen "Kogelmoos", which is located in the centre of the prominent mining area Schwaz (Tyrol), discloses the impact of mining and settlement activities in the mining district since the Neolithic.