Roman mining in Kosovo
Copper, lead and silver for Ulpiana
To the south of the capital of Kosovo, Priština, lies the Roman/Late Antiquity city of Ulpiana – a key location in the Roman province of Moesia Superior. Since 2008, the Kosovo Archaeological Institute (Instituti Arkeologjik i Kosovës), the Kosovo Museum (Museu i Kosovës) and the Roman-Germanic Commission in Frankfurt (RGK) have been studying the ancient city of Ulpiana in a joint project.
We know from inscriptions that there was a Roman metal mining district in the region. Since 2009, the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum has helped to carry out surveys, and archaeometallurgical analyses have been conducted in collaboration with the geochemical laboratory of the Goethe University in Frankfurt. The aim of the studies was to clarify whether and to what extent remains of the Roman mining industry had been preserved.
In the surveys we discovered smelting sites of various ages (from Roman times to the Middle Ages) and vestiges of mining. The main find spot was Shashkoc, a mining area around 10-15 km southeast of Priština, located in the area of the gossan. Numerous large mine dumps, fall shafts, and entrances to relatively small pits, some of which can still be entered, bear witness to long-lasting usage.
In the area immediately surrounding the mine workings, partly on the mine dumps, we found anvil stones used for crushing the ores. Some of the “troughs” dug into the bedrock may also be bucking places. At least one of these troughs had a water inlet, and it is likely that the ores were washed here.
The seam being exploited was a polymetallic deposit, and the findings so far point to the extraction of copper, lead and silver ores. Pottery finds, and a miner’s pick discovered at the site show that mining was carried out here from Roman times until the Middle Ages. This can therefore be identified as one of the mining districts which supplied Ulpiana with raw materials.
Further prospection is planned, along with archaeological excavations in the mining area and at smelter sites in the region, and also materials analyses. One goal is to characterize the deposit in more detail, to distinguish between the various periods of use, and above all, to study the mining itself, in order to grasp its extent and significance.
Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Institut für Geowissenschaften/PD. Dr. Sabine Klein
Fa. ARGUs, Tübingen/ Dr. Guntram Gassmann
Archaeological Institute of Kosova, Prishtina/Dr. Enver Rexha
Archaeological Institute of Kosova, Prishtina/Milot Berisha
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Berlin
Vorgeschichtliches Seminar, Philipps-Universität Marburg/PD. Dr. Felix Teichner
2013 - 2015
- Gassmann, Guntram, Klein, Sabine & Körlin, Gabriele: The roman mines near Ulpiana, Kosovo. In: A. Hauptmann & D. Modarressi-Tehrani (Hrsg.), Archaeometallurgy in Europe III. Anschnitt Beiheft 26, Bochum 2015, 33-43.
- Westner, Katrin J., Gassmann, Guntram, Körlin, Gabriele & Klein, Sabine: The polymetallic roman mining district of Shashkoc/Šaškovac and Janjevë/Janjevo – Economic foundation of the Municipium Ulpiana (Kosovo)? In: A. Hauptmann, O. Mecking & M. Prange (Hrsg.), Archäometrie und Denkmalpflege 2013. Jahrestagung an der Bauhaus-Universität Weimar 25.-28. September 2013. Metalla Sonderheft 6, Bochum 2013, 53-57.
- Gassmann, Guntram & Körlin, Gabriele: Roman non-ferrous and noble metal mining in Kosovo, in: Archaeometallurgy in Europe III Abstracts. Metalla Sonderheft 4, Bochum 2011, S. 128-129.
- Gassmann, Guntram, Körlin, Gabriele & Klein, Sabine: Römischer Erzbergbau im Umfeld der antiken Stadt ULPIANA bei Priština (Kosovo), in: Der Anschnitt 63, 2011, H. 4-5, S. 157-167.