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Kolloquium: Paweł Cembrzyński – Silver cities: how mining shaped medieval towns

11. Juli 2023 @ 16:15 - 18:00

Am 11. Juli ist Paweł Cembrzyński (Universität Kiel) zu Gast. Er wird über “Silver cities: how mining shaped medieval towns” sprechen.

Hinweise zur Veranstaltung:

Das Kolloquium findet einmal im Monat im Hörsaal im Haus der Archäologien statt. Im Anschluss ist ein gemeinsames Abendessen geplant. Für eine Online-Teilnahme wird um Anmeldung unter gebeten.


In the 12th and 13th centuries, the European economy was hungry for silver, gold, and other base metals. Meanwhile, areas of Central-Eastern Europe witnessed unprecedented reshaping of the social and physical landscape. It involved introducing Western legal organisations, creating new towns and villages, recreating old ones on new rules, and monetising the economy. One of the essential elements of these changes was the intensive development of mining. The abundance of newly discovered primary and secondary deposits of silver, gold and base metals, as well set of economic and social privileges granted by kings for those willing to invest and work in mining, attracted many miners and investors. As a result, mines, processing sites, settlements and towns emerged as a new layer of the landscape. Mining towns, centres of mining districts, were a special kind of urban site where most of the population made a living by working in mining directly (extraction, organisation) or indirectly (supply, services). Nevertheless, mining towns’ origins, roles, functions and daily life varied substantially. Some medieval mining towns developed as part of a settlement network performing central functions for the mining industry and its rural hinterland. The most intriguing are the mining centres that emerged due to an intensive increase in mining activities on a single deposit. Such places were localised in the vicinity or directly on mining fields. It resulted in a specific urban layout, proximity of mines, processing facilities and urban housing and infrastructure. Capital accumulation created flourishing urban culture, but the intensive impact on the environment could negatively affect human health. I will discuss how the available technology, the richness of deposits and geological structure generated crisis as an inherent part of mining history, putting many mining communities on the edge of collapse. In this talk, I will show how the entanglement of eco- and social systems built up the specific mining urban ecology. I will refer to medieval mining towns: Freiberg, Kutná Hora, Kremnica, Olkusz or Banská Štiavnica from a perspective of their landscape and material settings.



11. Juli 2023
16:15 - 18:00


Hörsaal im Haus der Archäologien
Am Bergbaumuseum 31
Bochum, Deutschland
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