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Servette slag heaps, Servette-Chuc mining complex, Saint-Marcel, Aosta Valley, Italy

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Location is approximate, estimate based on other nearby localities.
Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 45° North , 7° East (est.)
Margin of Error:~1km
Other regions containing this locality:The Alps, Europe
Köppen climate type:ET : Tundra
Name(s) in local language(s):Cumuli di scorie di Servette, Complesso minerario di Servette-Chuc, Saint-Marcel, Valle d'Aosta, Italia

Large furnace slag heaps near the Servette mine. These heaps can be grouped under two sub-localities: the Fontillon dump and the “Strada Cavour” (Cavour road) slag heaps. Two kinds of slags are observable: porous slags containing fragments of gangue and pieces of carbonized wood; lava-like slags. The slags mainly consist of fayalite, wüstite, hercynite, Cu-Fe eutectoid alloys, relict sulphides and interstitial glass. Weathering products include goethite, green Cu sulphates and chrysocolla (Tumiati et al., 2005).

The Fontillon dump, a 300-m-wide and 50-m-high slag deposit at about 1660-1680 m in altitude, is located along the path between the Treves foundry, a blast furnace built around the XV century, and Servette mine. This dump has been partly damaged, as the slags have been utilized for paving the nearby roadways. Radiocarbon dating of a piece of carbonized wood enclosed in a piece of slag, sampled from the deepest and oldest part of the dump, provided an age of 1120 +/- 40 BP and, after calibration, 780-1120 AD. This testifies that the mine was operated during the Middle Ages, far before the activity of the Treves foundry.

Various slag heaps with an average thickness up to 7-10 m are spread along “Strada Cavour” (Cavour road), i.e. the pathway that connects Plout and the Chuc mining village to the nowadays main path Druges-Servette-Prabornaz mine. The largest of them is located at an altitude of 1738 m at the intersection of “Strada Cavour” with the main road to Prabornaz. Radiocarbon dating of a piece of carbonized wood enclosed in a piece of porous slag, sampled from the uppermost level of the dump, provided an age of < 100 BP. This is the age of the last period of exploitation of the Servette mine and suggests that the old low-shaft smelting technique (a technique used from the Middle Ages up to 1700) was still in use here at the end of the 19th century, due to the low socio-economic development of the valley.

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- Gordon, J. (2004): Mineral notes from Italy: Servette Mine and Strahlers' Display. Bulletin of the Mineralogical Society of Southern California, 74, 12;
- Tumiati, S., Casartelli, P., Mambretti, A., Martin, S., Frizzo, P., Rottoli, M. (2005): The ancient mine of Servette (Saint-Marcel, Val d' Aosta, western Italian Alps): A mineralogical, metallurgical and charcoal analysis of furnace slags. Archaeometry, 47, 317-340.

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