The research department for archaeometallurgy was founded in 1990, with the support of the Volkswagen Foundation, to cater to researchers’ increasing interest in the extraction and distribution of metals in (pre-)historic times. Archaeometallurgy – a specialized field of archaeometry – uses scientific methods to investigate questions in archaeology, cultural history and the history of technology. The exceptionally well-equipped Materials Laboratory enables us to carry out this work.
The research department for mining archaeology deals primarily with the history of the use of raw mineral materials: the aim is to understand the complex processes of extraction, processing, subsequent treatment and trading of raw materials. The focus is on the production of metals and the extraction and use of salt from prehistory to the Middle Ages.
The mining history research department deals with the social, cultural, technical and economic aspects of mining, including the processing and refining of resources, from the Middle Ages to the present. Spanning different periods and using methodological and theoretical approaches, the research department for mining history takes a particular interest in the networking of mining districts, the history of knowledge and technology, the mining booms, and the development of social security systems in the mining industry.
As a museum with a primary focus on technology, we have to face material-oriented questions and find material-oriented solutions for the study and preservation of our cultural heritage. The research department for materials science uses its equipment, facilities and chemical and physical methods of analysis to conduct both strategic basic research and applied research on the characterization of materials and material properties. We analyse materials from historic sites and monuments which have been damaged by environmental forces, recording and quantifying external influences on material surfaces, examining material-specific reactions, and developing suitable detection methods. When analysing material found in archaeological excavations, we focus on the characterization and the origin of the finds. The main emphases of the research department for materials science are therefore research, development and consultation activities, which are provided as services to all the research departments of the Deutsche Bergbau-Museum Bochum, the museum itself, and also external clients.
As montan.dok, we manage the scholarly collections of the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum, which are used by national and international researchers. Our holdings are also the basis for numerous research projects: in particular, due to the 250-year period over which the material has been collected, investigations into the history of mining in the era of industrialization constitute a special focus of montan.dok. Other areas of work and research include the strategic conservation, preservation and expansion of the collections, and ongoing optimization of their physical and digital accessibility. This is combined with constant improvements in collection management.