Idea #581 – Exploring the Neolithic flint mines of Spiennes in Belgium
The archeological site of Spiennes is one of the oldest and of the vastest centers of extraction of flint in Europe. Strewed with thousand mine shafts, exploited during almost two millenniums between 4350 and 2300 years BC, the site extends over 100 hectares, in 6 km of the City of Mons. By digging in particular going 16 meters deep mine shafts, the man of the Neolithic set up the necessary techniques to extract big paving stones of flint sometimes weighing several hundred kilos. It also developed a specialization of the techniques of size today recognized as testimony of the human genius.
The vestiges of the Neolithic mining activity are visible in three sectors. The vastest of three mining zones is Camp-à-Cayaux, that is the “field in pebbles”. It lays on the right bank of the river and extends over 65 ha. We find the deepest quarries searched this day to Spiennes there. These quarries, which are not open to the public, are located under the current archaeological Research center. The mining zone of Petit-Spiennes of a 14 hectare surface is located on the left bank of the Fear. It is a question a strip of ground of maximum 200 m wide lining the valley of the river. The Center of interpretation of the neolithic quarries of flint in Spiennes, in which several winding shafts of the flint from 8 to 10 m of depth can be visited, lays here. The site recognized by the UNESCO, and classified as a major heritage of Wallonia, benefits from a program of continuous archaeological excavations since 1997 thanks to the Public service of Wallonia.
Where is it ?
Spiennes, Mons, Belgium