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Laurium


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A hilly district in southern Attica near Cape Sunium, was one of the largest mining districts of Greece, producing silver from argentiferous lead ores. Early operations involved opencast and gallery mining, and later included the sinking of deep shafts. Athens' issue of silver coinage stimulated production, enhanced by the finding of rich lodes at Maroneia before 483 bc; this financed Themistocles' fleet programme. The mines flourished throughout the 5th cent. till the Decelean War, then declined, but revived greatly in the second half of the 4th cent. Copious industrial remains throughout the area include shafts, galleries, reservoirs, washing‐tables, buildings, and smelteries. Excavations have revealed notable examples of surface workshops with cisterns, grinderies, cemented ore‐washeries, workrooms and slave‐quarters, some arranged in regular compounds. Mines, considered state property, were leased for fixed terms to private citizens by the poletai, and surface installations were built by individuals for use or lease. Fragments of poletai‐leases have been found in the Athenian Agora. See mines and mining, Greek.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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