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The extraction and processing of metal ores, particularly those of copper and tin, are regarded as among the principal motors of Bronze Age society. The skills and risks of mining lie behind the weapons, tools and symbols that drove political and ideological change. But we hear much less about the miners themselves and their position in society. Who were these people? Were they rich and special, or expendable members of a hard-pressed workforce? In this study the spotlight moves from the adits, slags and furnaces to the bones and seeds, providing a sketch of dedicated prehistoric labourers in their habitat. The Mauken miners were largely dependent on imported meat and cereals, and scarcely hunted or foraged the resources of the local forest. They seem to be the servants of a command economy, encouraged to keep their minds on the job.
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