Ironworking


What is the significance of this high forest region that led to such vast fortifications as the ring-like wall of Otzenhausen or the rich princely graves of Schwarzenbach being constructed?


The reasons for this wealth and prosperity are to be found in the local deposits of iron ore. The "Lebach strata" mined above ground produced large quantities of iron clay. Even today, numerous basins like, for example, the "Kloppbruchweiher" lake next to the exit to the forest car park bear witness to this mining activity.


The so-called "Lebach eggs" mined here - kidney-shaped lumps of rock - have fossil remains at their core.


The lumps of ore were mined, gathered and exposed in the open air to frost and the elements, causing the dead rock to separate from the ore-bearing rock. Subsequently, the ore-bearing mineral was melted down and processed at the forge into tools, machines and weapons.
Initial metallurgical analyses of slag and manufactured products from the early excavations at the "Hunnenring" provided evidence of a forging method that as a result of using high temperatures (up to 1000 degrees Celsius) and repeated cooling in the air gave the iron steel-like properties.


If these findings should be confirmed in serial analyses, it would be evidence that the particularity of the local production lies in the production of steel. In the second half of 1st millennium B.C. this would certainly have been a precious material that would justify the high settlement intensity as well as the dimensions of the fort on the Dollberg and the magnificent endowment of the graves.