Flint Mining
Spiennes Flint Mines
Located -Province of Hainaut, Wallonia Region of Belgium, largest and earliest concentration of ancient mines in Europe. Covering over 100 ha, the flint mines were in use from 4400 to 4200 BCE--the middle Neolithic to the late Neolithic

The mine shafts were first discovered in the 1840s. In 1867, the Mons-Chimay railway line cut through the site uncovering more of the shafts leading to more systematic excavations. Major excavation programs took place in 1912-1914 and continuously since 1953.

In 2000, the mines made the World Heritage List of archaeological sites based on the following criteria:

-The Neolithic flint mines at Spiennes provide exceptional testimony to early human inventiveness and application.

-The arrival of the Neolithic cultures marked a major milestone in human cultural and technological development, which is vividly illustrated by the vast complex of ancient flint mines at Spiennes.

-The flint mines at Spiennes are outstanding examples of the Neolithic mining of flint, which marked a seminal stage of human technological and cultural progress.

The Spiennes shafts are some of the deepest ever shafts sunk to extract flint. The extracted blocks of flint were of an exceptional size suggesting the Neolithic minors possessed great skill. The technique of 'striking', which is characteristic of Spiennes, was developed to allow these blocks to be extracted. Craftsmen using the mined flint made extremely regular blades and axes up to 25cm long.

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