Prehistoric to ancient lead and silver mining in Ibiza (Balearic Islands, Spain)

Prehistoric to ancient lead and silver mining in Ibiza (Balearic Islands, Spain)

The mining history of Ibiza has not yet been systematically studied. The first documentary evidence of ore extraction dates back to 1374. Our aim is to investigate various aspects of prehistoric mining and trading. In a preliminary phase concerned with pre-Roman lead and silver mining on Ibiza, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (FTS), we carried out fieldwork in two short seasons in 2011 and 2012. We were also able to take samples of a few Phoenician and Punic objects in the archaeological museum of Ibiza Town. Building on the results obtained here, we are applying for DFG funding (2013/14) for the main project, jointly with the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut. If the DFG’s decision is positive, work in Ibiza is due to start in spring 2014.

During our survey of the mining district of S’Argentera, we observed the first tangible signs of pre-Roman ore extraction. On the basis of the lead isotope composition of the ores sampled, we can tentatively identify two ore sources on the island of Ibiza: S’Argentera and Can Vincent. These are clearly distinguished from the geologically related deposits on the Iberian Peninsula, Almería and Cartagena.
Furthermore, the analyses carried out so far on metallurgical artefacts from the find site of Sa Caleta show that local ores were already in use in Phoenician times. There is also evidence that lead from Cartagena was being used there at the same time, and probably also lead from the Sierra Morena. Since settlement of Sa Caleta was limited to the late 7th to early 6th century BC, this offers an indirect clue to possible mining activity on the island in pre-Roman times.
Within the framework of the planned main project phase, the aim is to gain a more precise understanding of the chronology of the prehistoric extractive activity in the mining district of Ibiza. We also want to examine the extent of this activity diachronically, and establish its cultural historical context in relation to the raw materials trade in the western Mediterranean area. The aim is to consider more closely the relationship of the ore-bearing Balearic Islands, especially the larger Pityusic Island, Ibiza, to the Iberian Peninsula and other ore districts in the western Mediterranean, such as the island of Sardinia. Time-wise, the focus of this study is on the pre-Roman period, and more specifically on the Phoenician-Punic period.

Project manager

Prof. Dr. Ünsal Yalçın

Responsible body

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

Deutsches Archäologisches Institut


Deutsches Archäologisches Institut / Dr. Marcus Heinrich Hermanns


2010 - 2013

2014 - 2017


  • M. H. Hermanns, Bleibarrenfund vor der Nordwestküste von Ibiza (Balearen, Spanien). Überlegungen zum Bleihandel in vorrömischer Zeit, Madrider Mitt. 51, 2010, 184-221.
  • M. H. Hermanns, M. Prange & Ü. Yalçın, Pre-Roman mining on Ibiza. In: A. Hauptamann et al. (Hrsg.), Internat. Conf. Archaeometallurgy in Europe III. Deutsches Bergbau-Museum, Bochum June 29th - July 1st 2011. Abstracts, Metalla. Sonderheft 4, 2011, 132.