Bronze Age mining methodsDuring the Bronze Age the salt rock was broken into small pieces during the mining process. As well as traces of mining on the rock itself, researchers have also found tools such as picks, Fülltröge, scrapers and carrysacks dating back to this time.
Salt was won through a process known as dry mining. Bronze picks were used to cut deep parallel grooves into the rock, and the sections between the grooves were then quarried out. Traces of this have been preserved in the Grünerwerk for more than 3,500 years. The technique mainly yielded salt in small chips, while larger tablets of salt could be removed only when natural rock movements and pressures produced clefts and fissures that could be enlarged by pick and crowbarred out. The assumption that it was mainly salt chips that were mined is further supported by the form of the transportation equipment, which comprises trugs, rakes and carrysacks.
We have a good idea what Bronze Age mining tools looked like. They did not resemble modern iron or steel pickaxes, but were single bronze pick ends attached to a bentor knee-hafting. Such mounting was made from an angled piece of oak or beech, with a long, slim shaft and a two-pronged head. Archaeological excavations have uncovered numerous broken haftings discarded in the mountain. Compared to modern tools, the haft, at around 1 metre, is very long and thin.
(Reschreiter, H. Kowarik, K. Loew, C.)