Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons) (2000)

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Belgium 1968. World Cultural Heritage. Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes. Belgium.

The Neolithic flint mines at Spiennes, covering more than 100 ha, are the largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe. 

They are also remarkable for the diversity of technological solutions used for extraction and for the fact that they are directly linked to a settlement of the same period. 

The flint mines provide exceptional testimony to early human inventiveness and application. 

The Neolithic period (also known as Michelsberg Culture) was about 4000-2800 BC. 

  • Belgium 1968.  Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes. 

The Michelsberg Culture came from the Rhineland and Northern France between 6000 and 4800 years ago.  These Neolithic farming peoples settled in parts of Belgium and the Netherlands.  The name MICHELSBERG came from a site with a ceremonial enclosure discovered in the Rhine Valley and accompanied by a unique assemblage of settlement sites and material.  The pottery of this culture is largely undecorated.  The stone tools include very large examples (macrolithic) and polished flint axes.  Around 6300 years ago, the Michelsberg Culture introduces extensive deep mining of flint, and flint production expands to almost an "industrial" scale.  This can be seen at the famous flint mines at Spiennes, Belgium.  

The prehistoric period stretched roughly from 7000 to 3000 bc, and later in some regions. The Neolithic period began when humankind first developed agriculture and settled in permanent enclaves; it ended when the discovery of bronze led to the more advanced Bronze Age.

Pottery was the prime medium of Neolithic art; other important artistic expressions were statuary of the universally worshiped Mother Goddess and megalithic stone monuments devoted to religion or cults of the dead. Neolithic pottery has been found throughout the Neolithic regions, from the Middle East through North Africa and the Mediterranean to Europe and the British Isles. It is usually rather plain, with simple decorations -- triangles, spirals, wavy lines, and other geometric forms -- incised on its rough or polished surfaces. Depending on the particular culture of its origin, such pottery may be cast in forms that mimic baskets, gourds, bells, or leather sacks.

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Belgium (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Belgium section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
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