Prehistoric mining

From the very beginning of civilization people have used stone, ceramics, metals and later at or near the earth's surface. They were used to manufacture early tools and weapons, for example, high quality flint found in northern France and southern England, were used to create flint tools .

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Flint mines have been discovered in areas where the chalk stone formations were followed underground by shafts and galleries. In the mines at Grimes Graves particularly well-known, like most other flint mines, are Neolithic in origin (about 4000 BC-ca 3000 BC). Other hard rocks mined or collected for axes included the greenstone of the Langdale axes industry based in the English Lake District.

The oldest known archaeological record of mine clearance is the "Lion Cave" in Swaziland. On this site, which is radiocarbon dating the mine, about 43,000 years ago, the Paleolithic people mined mineral hematite, which contains iron, and earth to get the red ocher pigment. Mines of a similar age in Hungary and are believed to be sites where Neanderthals may have mined flint for weapons and tools.

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