Historical Reading List: The Ancient Silver Mines at Laurium, Greece

Ancient silver coin Athens
A Tetradrachm (“four drachmae”) silver coin from Athens (circa 454-404 BCE). One side of the coin shows a portrait of Athena, the patron goddess of the city; the reverse shows an owl, a symbol of Athens, along with an olive branch and the inscription “AOE”, an abbreviation of AOENAION (“of the Athenians”). The coin weighs about 17.2 grams. Because of the number of coins produced and the minting standards for metal purity and weight, this type of coin became one of the most widely used in the Greek world throughout the classical period (480-323 BCE). Images from Wikipedia

One of the most famous silver mining areas of antiquity was the region of Laurium near Athens on the Attica peninsula of Greece.  Silver was the main coinage metal used in ancient Greece, and as such, it was a particularly important commodity.  There is archaeological evidence of primitive mining in the Laurium area in the Bronze Age circa 3200 BCE.  Systematic exploitation of the ore minerals began in the 6th century BCE.  The ancient workings consisted of underground shafts and galleries for excavating the ore, and nearby washing areas for concentrating the ore minerals.  The Laurium mines were public property.  Mining was under the control of the Athenian city-state, with portions of the area being licenced for exploitation to private citizens in exchange for a fixed percentage of ore production, with most of the work being performed by slaves.  Silver occurred there in lead minerals such as galena, and the recovery of silver provided prosperity to Athens and financial resources that were used in part to build a large naval fleet that helped to defeat the Persians at the Battle of Salamis (480 BCE).  Production from the Laurium mines had a major financial effect on the creation of the Athenian Empire (454-404 BCE), and the ‘golden age’ of Athenian democracy. The ancient historian Xenophon described the mines in his essay Ways and Means written in 355 BCE. The most important period of production took place from about 480 to 380 BCE, after which the ore that was accessible by shallow underground workings became exhausted, and the mines gradually became dormant and were then were abandoned for more than two millennia.  Mining did not resume until the 1860s, and it continued on a limited scale until 1982.
In ancient times, Greek coins were handmade.  The design of one side of the coin was carved into a block of bronze or iron, with the design of the reverse side being carved into a metal punch.  A blank disk of gold, silver or electrum (a natural gold-silver alloy) was cast in a mould, and then placed between the block and the punch.  The latter was struck with a hammer to create the designs on the front and back of the coin.   A number of Greek city-states produced their own coins with unique symbols and designs.

How to Use this Reading List

This reading list was compiled to give you an opportunity to discover more about the history of the famous Laurium silver mines. The list is presented in chronological order to emphasise the development of ideas over time. The list is not comprehensive, but a compilation of some interesting information that has often been forgotten or overlooked.

Many of the articles in the reading list exist in the public domain and can be found online at digital libraries such as HathitrustInternet Archive or other digital repositories. More recent publications can often be found in libraries. Abstracts of these articles can usually be found on the website of the original journal or magazine, and the article itself is often available for purchase from the publisher.

“A Journey into Greece”, G. Wheler, London (1682).  The author, an English clergyman, travelled in Greece in 1675 and 1676, and visited the Laurium region in Attica.
Beyträge zu den Untersuchungen über das Electrum und den Lyncur der Alten [Contribution to the Understanding of Electrum and Lyncur of the Ancients], J.P.E. von Scheffler, Neue Sammlung von Versuche und Abhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Danzig, Vol. 1, pp. 234-246 (1778).  The author discusses the use of silver and electrum among the ancient Greeks.

“Geschichte des Bergbaues und Hüttenwesens bey den alten Völkern [History of Mining and Smelting by Ancient Peoples]”, J.F. Reitemeier, J.C. Dieterich Publishers, Göttingen, 166 pp. (1785).  This early book on mining in various parts of the ancient world includes a discussion of the Laurium mines.

Über die Laurischen Silberbergwerke in Attika [About the Laurian Silver Mines in Attica], A. Böckh, Abhandlungen der Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin (Historisch-Philologische Klasse), pp. 85-140 (1818).  The author, a scholar of classical Greece, provided one of the first descriptions of the Laurium mines based on the translation of works by ancient scholars.

“Der Staatshaushaultung der Athener [The Public Economy of Athens, to which is added a Dissertation on the Silver Mines of Laurion]”, A. Böckh, 688 pp., translation by G.C. Lewis of the original 1817 book, J.W. Parker Publishers, London (1842).  The author discusses various aspects of the Athenian economy, including silver mining at Laurium.

Über die in Griechenland sich findenden Bergwerke aus den Zeiten der alten Hellanen [About Mines found in Greece from the Time of the Ancient Hellens], X. Landerer, Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geognosie, Geologie und Petrefakten-Kunde, Vol. 17, pp. 417-436 (1849).  A review of the mines in Greece and the Aegean islands that existed in ancient times.

Sur les Mines d'Argent de Laurion, et sur le Procédé d’Extraction de l’Argent suivi dans l’Antiquité [On the Silver Mines of Laurium, and the Process of Silver Extraction used since Antiquity], X. Landerer, Revue Scientifique et Industrielle, Vol. 36, pp. 274-275 (1849).  A brief note on the silver mines, and comments on the process of extracting silver from the ore.  A similar article by this author appeared as Über die Silbergruben von Laurion und die muthmassliche Silberscheidung bei den Alten [On the Silver Mines of Laurium and the presumed Separation of Silver in Ancient Times], Archiv der Pharmazie und Berichte der Deutsche Pharmazeutischen Gesellschaft, Vol. 108, No. 1, pp. 25-28 (1849).

Attic Silver Mine at Laurium, Unknown author, Scientific American, Vol. 8, No. 8, p. 62 (1852).  A brief note on the mine.

Sketches of a Traveller from Greece, Constantinople, Asia Minor, Syria, and Palestine, A.L. Koeppen, Reformed Church Review, Vol. 6, (April), pp. 258-275 (1854).  The author describes Laurium and the importance of the silver produced by the mine to the economy of Athens.  A similar article by this author appeared in the Mercersburg Quarterly Review, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 40-79 and No. 3, pp. 350-383 (1856).

Sur l'Électrum d'Homère [On the Electrum of Homer], P. Giguet, Revue Archéologique, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 235-241 (1859).  The author discusses the nature of the electrum mentioned in the written works of Homer.

Mitteilungen über die Bergwerke der Alten [Communication on the Mines of the Ancients], X. Landerer, Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Geologie und Paläontologie, pp. 45-48 (1864).  A discussion of the Laurium and other mines in ancient Greece.

"Le Laurium", A. Cordella, Typographie Cayer, Marseilles, 120 pp. (1869).  Book not seen.

Les Mines du Laurium [The Mines of Laurium], C.H. Gorceix, Bulletin de l'École Français d'Athenes, No. 8, pp. 171-181 (1870). The author, a geologist and mining engineer, describes the ore deposit at Laurium.

Le Laurium et les Mines d'Argent en Grèce [Laurium and the Silver Mines of Greece], C.E. Ledoux, Revue des Deux Mondes, Vol. 97, (February), pp. 552-571 (1872).  The author, a mining engineer, made a visit to Greece in 1869-1870, and in this article he described the silver mines.

Ancient Mining - The Grecian Mines Reopened, Unknown author, Van Nostrand's Engineering Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 48, pp. 573-576 (1872).  The silver mines were reopened in the 1860s after remaining dormant for more than 1800 years.
Mittheilungen über die Geologie von Laurion und den dortigen Bergbau [Contribution to the Geology of Laurion and the Mining There], R. Nasse, Zeitschrift für das Berg-, Hütten- und Salinen-Wesen in dem Preussischen Staate, Vol. 21, pp. 12-22 (1873).  A geological description of the Laurium silver mines.
The Laurium Mines of Greece, Unknown author, Journal of the Society of Arts, Vol. 22, No. 1102, p. 120 (1874).  A note on the mine with a discussion of the potential for further exploitation of lead-silver ores.
Du Laurium [About Laurium], A.R. Rangavis (Rangabé), Mémoires Présentés par divers Savants a l'Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Vol. 8, Pt. 2, pp. 297-346 (1874).  This article provides a detailed discussion of historical references to the silver mines.
Greece As It Is, J.M. Francis, Journal of the American Geographical Society, Vol. 6, pp. 138-168 (1874).  Report of a public lecture in New York by the author, the former US Minister to Greece, with a discussion of the reopening of the Laurium mines (pp. 145-148).
“Notice Historique sur Laurion et ses Environs [Historical Notice on Laurium and its Surroundings]”, A. Le Nepvou de Carfort, Paris (1875).  Book not seen.
Description des Produits des Mines du Laurium et d’Oropos [Description of the Products of the Mines of Laurium and Oropos], A. Cordella, Perris Frères, Athens, 47 pp. (1875).  Book not seen.
Note sur les Mines du Laurium et sur les Nouveaux Gites de Minerai de Zinc (Smithsonite) [Note on the Laurium Mines and a New Deposit of the Zinc Mineral (Smithsonite)], A. Cordella, Bulletin de la Sociéte Géologique de France, Vol. 6, pp. 577-581 (1878).  Note on some of the minerals found in the mines.
Memoire sur le Laurium [Memoir on Laurium], A. Huet, Mémoires et Compte-Rendu des Travaux de la Société des Ingénieurs Civils de France, pp. 261-263 and 731-772 (1879).  A geological description of the Laurium ore deposits.
La Geologie, la Metallurgie, et les Mines du Laurium [The Geology, Metallurgy and the Mines of Laurium], G. Mayer, La Revue Scientifique, Vol. 22, No. 32, pp. 758-760 (1879).  A short description of the silver mines.
Der Geologische Bau von Attica, Boeotien, Lokris und Parnassis [The Geological Structure of Attica, Boetia, Locris and Parnassis], A. Bittner, Denkschriften der Kaiserlischen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe, Vol. 40, pp. 1-74 (1880).  A geological description of Greece including the historical mining areas.
Laveries Anciennes du Laurium [Ancient Ore Washeries of Laurium], P. Negris, Annales des Mines, Vol. 20, pp. 160-164 (1881).  A description of the ancient lead ore washing facilities at the mine.
[Commercial and Industrial Situation of Laurium], J. Galand, Recueil Consulaire Contenant les Rapports Commerciaux des Agents Belges a l'Etranger, Vol. 36, No. 97, pp. 393-400 and 401-413 (1881).  A report by the Belgian vice-consul on the mining situation at Laurium.
Mineralogisch-Geologische Reisekizzen aus Griechenland [Mineralogical-Geological Travel Sketches of Greece], A. Cordella, Berg- und Hüttenmännische Zeitung, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 21-23; No. 4, pp. 33-36; No. 5, pp. 41-44; and No. 6, 57-59 (1883).  The author describes ore deposits in Greece including the Laurium mines.
Le Laurium - Étude sur les Dépots Métalliques [Laurium - Study of the Metal Deposits], B. Simonnet, Bulletin de la Société de l’Industrie Minérale, Vol. 12, pp. 641-660 (1883).  A geological study of the Laurium deposits.
Exploitation de ses Mines du Laurium [Exploitation of the Laurium Mines], E. Watbled, Revue Maritime et Coloniale, Vol. 78, pp. 617-634 (1883).  The author discusses the expansion of the reopened mines.
Geognostische, Berg- und Hüttenmännische Mittheilungen über das Alte Laurion [Geognostic, Mining and Smelting Contributions about Ancient Laurium], E. Dietz, Berg- und Hüttenmännische Zeitung, Vol. 45, No. 25, pp. 263-265 and No. 26, pp. 271-273 (1886).  The author gives a geological description of the ancient silver mines.
Über die Geologie von Attika, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung des Hymittos und Lavrions [On the Geology of Attika, with Special Consideration of Hymettos and Laurium], G. vom Rath, Decheniana - Verhandlungen des Naturhistorsichen Vereines der Preussischen Rheinlande und Westfalens und Regierung-Bezirks Osnabruck, Vol. 44, pp. 77-106 (1887).  The author, a geology professor, describes the geological setting of the Attica region including the Hymettos Mountains and the Laurium area.
Laurium: The Romance of a Mine, M.E. Child-Villiers (Countess of Jersey), National Review, Vol. 11, No. 45, pp. 701-710 (1888). A popular account of the Laurium mines.  The same article by this author appeared in Littell's Living Age, Vol. 178, No. 2302, pp. 355-360 (1888).
Mittheilungen aus Griechenland [Contribution on Greece], A. Gobantz, Carinthia - Zeitschrift für Vaterlandskunde, Belehrung und Unterhaltung, Vol. 78, No. 9/10, pp. 141-146 (1888).  A discussion of the reopening of the silver mines in the 1860s.
L'Attique - Décrite au Point de Vue Géologique, Métallifère Minier, et Métallurgique [Attica – Description from the Geological, Metalliferous Mining, and Metallurgical Point of View], C.H.T. Zboinski, Memoires de la Societe Belge de Geologie, Vol. 3, pp. 137-148 (1889).  The author gives a geological and mining overview of Attica.
Le Laurium [Laurium], A. Cambresy, Revue Universelle des Mines, Vol. 6, 109-128, 230-271; and Vol. 7, 76-102, 175-217; and Vol. 8, 1-17 (1889).  The author, a mining engineer, gives a detailed description of the silver mines and their operation.
Berg-, Hütten- und Salinenwesen von Griechenland in der National-Ausstellung von Athen in 1888 [Mining, Metallurgy, and Saltworks in Greece in National Exhibition in Athens in 1888], C. Mitzopulos, Dingler’s Polytechnisches Journal, Vol. 272, No. 11, pp. 509-519; and No. 12, pp. 551-561 (1889).  A description of mining activities in Greece including the Laurium mine.
Die Erzlager von Laurion [The Ore Deposit of Laurium], O. Lang, Prometheus Illustrirte Wochenschrift, Vol. 1, No. 25, pp. 392-396 (1890).  A description of the geology of the Laurium deposit.
Greek Mining and Metallurgy, I.J. Manatt, Monthly Consular and Trade Reports, Vol. 35, No. 124, pp. 20-36 (1891).  A report by the US Consul in Athens on the Laurium and other mines in Greece.
The Mining and Metallurgical Industries of Laurium for the Exhibition in Chicago USA, A. Cordella, 16 pp. (1893).  A description of the Laurium exhibition at the Colombian Exposition.
Les Laveries Antiques du Laurium [The Ancient Ore Washeries at Laurium], E. Ardaillon, Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Vol. 17, pp. 620-621 (1893).  A note on the ore washing operations.
Die Laurischen Silberbergwerke in alter Zeit [The Laurium Silver Mines in Ancient Times], A. Gobantz, Österreichische Zeitschrift für Berg- und Hüttenwesen, Vol. 42, pp. 123-130 (1894).  A discussion of the ancient silver mine operations.
Sur la Signification des Types Monétaires des Anciens [About the Meaning of the Monetary Types of the Ancients], J.N. Svoronos, Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Vol. 18, pp. 101-128 (1894).  A discussion of the symbols used on ancient Greek silver coins.
Les Mines de Plomb Argentifère chez les Anciens [The Mines of Silver-bearing Lead of the Ancients], E. Ardaillon, Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, Vol. 18, pp. 168-169 (1894).  A brief note on the Laurium ore.
Laurion: Die attischen Bergwerke im Alterthum [Laurium: The Attic Mine in Ancient Times], J.J. Binder, Sonderabdruck aus dem Jahresberichte der Kaiserliche Koniglichen Staats-Oberrealschule in Laibach, pp. 1-54 (1895).  A geological description and map of the ancient mining areas near Laurium.  A similar article by this author appeared in the Zeitschrift für Bergrecht, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 323-339 (1896).
“Les mines de Laurion dans l'Antiquité [The Laurium Mines in Antiquity]”, E. Ardaillon, Écoles française d’Athènes de Rome, Fontemoing, Paris, 216 pp. (1897).  The author, an archaeologist and geographer, provides a detailed description of the ancient silver mines based on fieldwork carried out for his university thesis.
Aperçu sur les Différentes Phases de la Métallurgie du Plomb aux Usines du Laurium [Overview of the Different Phases of Lead Metallurgy in the Factories at Laurium], G. Georgiades, Bulletin de la Société de l’Industrie Minerale, Vol. 11, pp. 525-549 (1897).  A discussion of the metallurgical processing of the lead ore.
The Metals Used by the Great Nations of Antiquity, J.H. Gladstone, Notices of the Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, Vol. 15, No. 92, pp. 608-620 (1898).  Report of a public lecture on metal use in antiquity.
Contribution a l'Étude Géologique, Chimique et Minéralogique du Laurium (Grece) [Contribution to the Geological, Chemical and Mineralogical Studies of Laurium (Greece)], H. Daviot, Bulletin Trimestriel de la Société d'Histoire Naturelle d'Autun, Vol. 12, pp. 331-430 (1899).  A detailed study of the Laurium mines and of the minerals found there.
Les Mines du Laurion dans l'Antiquité [The Laurium Mines in Antiquity], L. de Launay, Annales des Mines, Vol. 16, pp. 5-32 (1899).  The author, a noted geologist and specialist in ore deposits, describes the ancient mines.
Das Berg-, Hütten- und Salinenwesen Griechenlands [Mining, Metallurgy and Salt Works of Greece], A. Cordella, Zeitschrift für das Berg-, Hütten- und Salinen-Wesen in dem Preussischen Staate, Vol. 49, pp. 351-382 (1901).  A list of mining operations and production statistics for a number of locations in Greece.
Über den Bergbau im Laurion [About Mining in Laurium], C. von Ernst, Berg- und Hüttenmännisches Jahrbuch, Vol. 50, pp. 447-501 (1902).  A description of ancient and modern mining operations.
Mines Anciennes en Grèce [Ancient Mines in Greece], P. Graindor, Le Musée Belge, Vol. 7, pp. 466-470 (1903).  A discussion of ancient mining areas.
Zur Geschichte des Silber-Bergbaus im Laurion [About the History of Silver Mining in Laurium], Unknown author, Prometheus Illustrirte Wochenschrift, Vol. 16, No. 788, pp. 117-119 (1904).  A brief history of the mines.
Note sur les Minéraux Plombifères des Scories Athéniennes du Laurion [Note on Lead Minerals in Athenian Slags from Laurium], A. Lacroix and A. de Schulten, Bulletin de Minéralogie, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 79-90 (1908).  A note on lead-bearing slag ores from Laurium.
La Metallurgie du Plomb au Laurium [The Metallurgy of Lead at Laurium], L. Guillaume, Annales des Mines, Vol. 15, pp. 5-29 (1909).  The author, a mining engineer working for the French company operating the Laurium mines, describes the metallurgy of the lead ore.  A similar article by this author appeared in the Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 88, No. 10, pp. 446-448 (1909).
The Metals in Antiquity, W. Gowland, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 42, pp. 235-287 (1912).  Report of a public lecture on ancient mining and use of metals.
Coinage of the Athenian Empire, P. Gardner, Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 33, pp 147-188 (1913).  The author discusses the types of coins, mainly silver, used in ancient times in Athens.
Das Erzgebiet von Laurium [The Ore District of Laurium], L. Berger, Metall und Erz, Vol. 11, No. 5, pp. 149-160 (1914).  The author gives a geological description of the occurrence of lead-silver ores.
De Mijnen der Oude Grieken [The Mines of the Ancient Greeks], C.W. Vollgraff, Historische Avonden, Vol. 3, pp. 1-29 (1916).  A discussion of mines in ancient Greece.
Silver in Roman and Earlier Times, I: Pre-Historic and Protohistoric Times, W. Gowland, Archaeologia, Vol. 69, No. 1, pp. 121-160 (1920).  Gold occurs in nature in pure form as flakes, grains and nuggets in sands, gravels and other sediments, and it can therefore recovered by alluvial mining methods.  In contrast, silver (like copper) is found in mountainous regions where it is embedded in metallic ore veins.  Recovery of silver required exploitation of ores in underground tunnels and shafts.  Silver was occasionally found as native metal in ore veins, but more often it occurred as an impurity in lead minerals such as galena.  Metallurgical processes such as smelting the ore are required to obtain the metal.  In this article, the author (a mining engineer) discusses the methods of mining and recovering silver in ancient times.
Les Roches Vertes d'Origine Volcanique du Laurium [The Green Rocks of Volcanic Origin of Laurium], P. Kokoros, Extrait des Praktika de l'Académie d'Athènes, No. 3, pp. 604-610 (1928).  Article not seen.
Ancient Athenian Mining, G.M. Calhoun, Journal of Economic and Business History, Vol. 3, pp. 333-361 (1931).  Article not seen.
The Ancient Mines of Laurium in Attica, O. Davies, Man, Vol 31, (January), pp. 6-7 (1931).  Article not seen.
"Man and Metals", T.A. Rickard, McGraw Hill Publishers, New York, 1068 pp. (1932).  A two-volume publication from a noted mining engineer that traces the history of mining in relation to the development of civilisation.
The Evidence of Ancient Mining, C.E.N. Bromehead, Geographical Journal, Vol. 96, No. 2, pp. 101-118 (1940).  The author discusses the development of mining in the ancient world.
The Leases of the Laureion Mines, M. Crosby, Hesperia, Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 189-297 (1950).  Groups of appointed magistrates managed the financial affairs of ancient Athens.  One such group was the Poletai, who handled the public contracts to both lease the state-owned silver mines in southern Attica and sell confiscated mine leases.  A typical lease would include the name of the purchaser; the price of the lease; the name, place and classification of the mine; and the mine boundaries.  Each year the Poletai would erect a stone stele to record information by inscribed text on the mines leased and confiscated property sold.  In this article, the author describes seventy-five stele fragments that had been found during excavations that began in 1931 in the ancient Athenian Agora (central commercial gathering place).  These stone fragments provide a wealth of detail on the Laurium mines.
Die Erzlagerstätte von Laurion [The Ore Deposits of Laurion], H.Putzer, Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques, Vol. 2, pp. 16-46 (1950).  Article not seen.
Workshops or Mines, M. Thompson, Museum Notes (American Numismatic Society), Vol. 5, pp. 35-48 (1952).  Article not seen.
The Attic Silver Mines in the Fourth Century B.C., R.J. Hopper, Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 48, pp. 200-254 (1953).  The author discusses the operation of the mines in ancient times.
Lavrion [Laurium], G. Marinos and W.E. Petraschenk, Geologikai kai Geophysikai Meletai, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 1-247 (1956).  Article not seen.
A Forgotten Method of Cupellation of Argentiferous Lead employed by the Ancient Greeks, C.E. Conophagos, Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques, Vol. 11, pp. 423-432 (1960).  Article not seen.
The Ancient Mine-workings of Laureion, C. MacDonald, Greece & Rome, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 19-21 (1961).  The author comments on the state of preservation of the ancient mine workings.
The Mines and Miners of Ancient Athens, R.J. Hopper, Greece & Rome, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 138-151 (1961).  The author, an archaeologist and historian of ancient Greece, describes the depressing appearance of the run-down buildings and waste ore dumps around Laurium from the period of mining activity that had begun about a century earlier.
Das Mineralvorkommen von Kassandra und Laurion, Griechenland [The Mineral Localities of Kassandra and Laurion, Greece], G. Zeschke, Der Aufschluss, Vol. 14, No. 5, pp. 125-129 (1963).  Article not seen.
A Visit to Laurium, Greece, V.R. Baker, Rocks & Minerals, Vol. 40, No. 2, pp. 85-87 (1965).  Article not seen.
Les Gisements Plombo-Zinciferes du Laurium (Grece) [The Lead-Zinc Deposits of Laurium (Greece)], M. Leleu, Sciences de la Terre, Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 293-333 (1966).  Article not seen.
The Silver of Laurion, C.J.K. Cunningham, Greece & Rome, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 145-156 (1967).  The author discusses the lack of an archaeological examination of the Laurium mines area.
The Laurion Mines: A Reconsideration, R.J. Hopper, Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 63, pp. 293-326 (1968).  The author describes his attempt to reconcile information on the mines in the historical literature with what could be seen during visits to the area.
Attempt at Thermodynamic Interpretation in Metallogeny: The Karst Mineralization of Laurium, Greece, M. Leleu, Bulletin du Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières - Géologie Appliquée, Chronique des Mines, Vol. 4, pp. 1-62 (1969).  Article not seen.
“Studies on the Ancient Silver Mines of Laurion”, D.A. Kounas, Coronado Press, Kansas, 310 pp. (1972).  A republication of information by A. Böckh and others.  Book not seen.
Sur des Minéralisations de Type Skarn au Laurium (Grèce), M. Leleu, A Morikis and P. Picot, Mineralium Deposita, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 259-263 (1973).  Geological fieldwork at the Laurium site reveals different types of ore mineral formation.
Lead Poisoning in the Ancient World, H.A. Waldron, Medical History, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 391-399 (1973).  The possibility of lead poisoning as a result of the ancient mining of lead-silver ore is discussed.
Smelting Furnaces and the Technique of Smelting Argentiferous Lead Ores of Laurium in Ancient Greece, C. Conophagos, Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques, Vol. 26, pp. 338-366 (1975).  Article not seen.
Geological and Geophysical Considerations of New Mining Possibilities in Laurium Greece, G. Marinos and J. Markis, Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques, Vol. 27, pp. 1-10 (1975).  Article not seen.
Minerals of the Laurium Mines, Attica, Greece, W. Kohlberger, Mineralogical Record, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 114-125 (1976).  A discussion of various minerals found in the mines.
Laurium - Silberbrunnen der Athener Erzabbau im antiken Griechenland [Laurium – The Silver Well of Athenian Ore Mining in Ancient Greece], A. Hanauer and G. Henrich, Mineralien Magazin, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 101-107 (1977).  Article not seen.
“La Technique Miniere et Metallurgique des Anciens [The Mining and Metallurgical Techniques of the Ancients]”, J. Ramin, Latomus Publishers, Brussels, 223 pp. (1977).  Book not seen.
Die Metallogenese von Laurium - Granitischer Herd oder Paläokarst? [The Metallogenesis of Laurium – Granitic Stove or Paleokarst?], W.E. Petraschenk, Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques, Vol. 28, pp. 17-27 (1977).  Article not seen.
Lavrion in Attika [Laurium in Attica], H. Grolig and E. Grolig, Lapis, Vol. 3, No. 5, pp. 16-25 and 40 (1978).  Article not seen.
The Geological Knowledge of Ancient Greeks in Laurium, G. Marinos, Annales Géologiques des Pays Helléniques, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 689-697 (1978).  Article not seen.
“Mining and Metallurgy in the Greek and Roman World”, J.F. Healy, Thames and Hudson Publishers, London, 316 pp. (1978).  Book not seen.
Some Aspects of Lead and Silver Mining in the Aegean, N.H. Gale, Miscellanea Graeca, Vol. 2, pp. 9-60 (1979).  Article not seen.
“Le Laurium Antique et la Technique Grecque de la Production de l'Argent [Laurium and the Ancient Greek Techniques for Silver Production]”, C.E. Conophagos, Ekdotike Hellados, Athens, 485 pp. (1980).  Book not seen.
The Mines of Laurium, D.R. Derry, Episodes Journal of International Geoscience, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 18-20 (1980).  This article gives a brief historical sketch of the geology and mining activities of the Laurium area.
Mineralogical and Geographical Silver Sources of Archaic Greek Coinage, N.H. Gale, W. Gentner and G.A. Wagner, Metallurgy in Numismatics, Vol. 1, pp. 3-49 (1980).  Article not seen.
Archäometallurgische Untersuchungen zur Antiken Silbergewinnung in Laurion - Chemische Analyse Griechischer Blei-Silber-Erze [Archaeometallurgical Studies of Ancient Silver Mining in Laurium - Chemical Analysis of Greek Lead-Silver Ores], E. Pernicka, Erzmetall, Vol. 34, pp. 396-400 (1981).  Article not seen.
Lead, Gold and Silver in Ancient Greece, E. Pernicka and G.A. Wagner, Pact, Vol. 7, pp. 419-425 (1982).  Article not seen.
Lead and Silver in the Ancient Aegean, N.H. Gale and Z.A. Stos-Gale, Scientific American, Vol. 244, No. 6, pp. 176-192 (1981).  Article not seen.
Cycladic Lead and Silver Metallurgy, N.H. Gale and Z.A. Stos-Gale, Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 76, pp. 169-224 (1981).  A discussion of the metallurgy of the Laurium lead-silver ores.
The Laurion Silver Mines: A Review of Recent Researches and Results, J.E. Jones, Greece & Rome, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 169-183 (1982).  Article not seen.
The Sources of Mycenaean Silver and Lead, Z.A. Stos-Gale and N.H. Gale, Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 467-485 (1982).  Chemical analyses of metal artefacts demonstrated that Laurium was the dominant source of silver in classical times.

Some Reflections on the Production and Use of Coinage in Ancient Greece, O. Mørkhon, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 290-305 (1982).  The author discusses the use of bronze and silver coinage in ancient Greece.

Der Silberbergbau von Laureion in Attika [Silver Mining at Laurium in Attica], H. Kalcyk, Antike Welt, Vol. 14, No. 3, pp. 12-29 (1983).  Article not seen.
Ancient Athenian Silver Mines - Dressing Floors and Smelting Sites, J.E. Jones, Journal of the Historical Metallurgical Society, Vol. 18, No. 2 (1984).  Article not seen.
Phillip II of Macedon, Athens, and Silver Mining, B.S. Strauss, Hermes, Vol. 112, No. 4, pp. 418-427 (1984).  Article not seen.
Laurion: Agrileza, 1977-1983: Excavations at a Silver-Mine Site, J.E. Jones, Archaeological Reports, No. 31, pp. 106-123 (1985).  The report of the excavation of a mining site located several kilometres south-west of Laurium.
Le Lavage du Minerai en Grèce [The Washing of Minerals in Greece], G. Argoud, MOM Éditions, Vol. 11, pp. 85-92 (1986).  The author discusses the methods used for washing of ore minerals at ancient Greek mines.
“Minerals of the Lavrion Mines”, A. Katerinopoulos and E. Zissimopoulou, Greek Association of Mineral and Fossil Collectors, Athens, 304 pp. (1994).  Book not seen.
The Building and Industrial Remains at Agrileza, Laurion (Fourth Century BCE) and their Contribution to the Workings at the Site, E. Photos-Jones and J.E. Jones, Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 89, pp. 307-358 (1994).  A report of the results of five seasons of field excavations (1977 to 1983) at a site in the Laurion Hills where lead-silver ore was washed and processed during the late 4th Century BCE.
Mining Activities in Ancient Greece from the 7th to the 1st Centuries BCE, J. Economopoulos, Mining History Journal, Vol. 3, pp. 109-114 (1996).  Article not seen.
Aristote et les Mines du Laurion - À Propos de la Constitution d’Athènes [Aristotle and the Laurium Mines - About the Constitution of Athens], D. Vanhove, L’Antiquité Classique, Vol. 65, pp. 243-249 (1996).  Article not seen.
“Laurion - The Minerals in the Ancient Slags”, P. Gelaude, P. van Kalmthout, and C. Rewitzer, Janssen Publishers, Nijmegen, 195 pp. (1996).  Book not seen.
Influence of Geologic Factors on Ancient Civilizations in the Aegean Area, A. Mirsky and E.L. Bland, Journal of Geoscience Education, Vol. 44, No. 1, pp. 25-35 (1996).  The authors state that the silver mines at Laurium provided the monetary base to make Athens a dominant city-state in the Greek world and paid for the warships that enabled it and its allies to defeat the Persian invasion of 480 BCE, thereby preserving the birthplace of both democracy and science.
“The Role of Metals in Ancient Greek History”, M.Y. Treister, E.J. Brill Publishers, New York, 481 pp. (1996).  Book not seen.
A Reassessment of the Laurion Mining Lease Records, G.G. Aperghis, Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies, Vol. 42, No. 1, pp. 1-20 (1998).  The author discusses additional studies of the mining lease records.
Lavrion - Mineralogische Klassiker und Raritäten für Sammler [Laurium - Mineralogical Classics and Rarities for Collectors], W. Wendel and G. Wendel, Lapis, Vol. 24, No. 7/8, pp. 34-52 and 90 (1999).  Article not seen.
Lavrion: Die Komplette Mineralliste [Laurium – the Complete Mineral List], W. Wendel and B. Rieck, Lapis, Vol. 24, pp. 61-67 (1999).  A list of minerals from the Laurium mines.
Roads to Riches: Making Good the Silver Ore of Lavrion in Greece, T. Rehren, Archaeology International, Vol. 4, pp. 31-34 (2000).  Article not seen.
The Silver Ore-processing Workshops of the Lavrion Region, E. Kakavoyannis, Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 96, pp. 365-380 (2001).  The author describes the difficult, multi-step operation to process the lead-silver ore in ancient times.
“Money and Its Uses in the Ancient Greek World”, A. Meadows and K. Shipton, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 167 pp. (2001).  Book not seen.
Stratigraphy and Geological Structure of the Lavrion area (Attica, Greece), A. Photiades and N. Carras, Bulletin of the Geological Society of Greece, Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 103-109 (2002).  A field study of the geology of the Laurium area.
A Hindered-Settling Model Applied to the Flat-Washing Platforms at Laurium Greece, J. Kepper, Historical Metallurgy, Vol. 38, No. 2, pp. 75-83 (2004).  Article not seen.
“Lavrion - From Fountains of Silver to Mines of Culture”, G.N. Dermatis, Municipality of Lavrion, Greece, 101 pp. (2004).  Book not seen.
Third Contact Ore Mineralogy at Laurium, Greece, J. Kepper, Historical Metallurgy, Vol. 39, No. 1, pp. 1-11 (2005).  Article not seen.
Prahistorischer und Antiker Blei-Silberbergbau im Laurion [Prehistoric and Ancient Lead-Silver Mining in Laurium], H. Lohmann, Der Anschnitt, Vol. 18, pp. 105-136 (2005).  Article not seen.
Nouvelles Recherches sur les Mines Antiques du Laurion (Grèce) [New Research at the Ancient Mines of Laurium (Greece)], D. Morin and A. Photiades, Pallas, Vol. 67, pp. 327-358 (2005).  The authors explore some of the ancient Laurium mine workings.
More about the Silver-rich Lead of Ancient Laurion, H. Mussche, L'Antiquité Classique, Vol. 75, pp. 225-230 (2006).  Article not seen.
Between Necessity and Extravagence: Silver as a Commodity in the Hellenistic Period, K. Panagopoulou, Annual of the British School at Athens, Vol. 102, pp. 315-343 (2007).  The author discusses the importance of manufactured silverware for trade and the economy in ancient Greece.
The Lavrion Deposit (SE Attica, Greece): Geology, Mineralogy and Minor Elements Chemistry, N. Skarpelis, Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie Abhandlungen, Vol. 183, No. 3, pp. 227-249 (2007).  A study of the geological setting of the Laurium ore bodies.

Investment Patterns in the Laurion Mining Industry in the Fourth Century BCE, E.M.A. Bissa, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 57, No. 3, pp. 263-273 (2008).  The author discusses the investment in the ancient mining industry.

Les Mines Antiques - La Production des Métaux à l’Époque Grecque et Romaine [The Ancient Mines – Metals Production during the Greek and Roman Epochs], C. Domergue, Picard Publishers, Paris, 240 pp. (2008).  Book not seen.
The Miocene Igneous Rocks in the Basal Unit of Lavrion (SE Attica, Greece): Petrology and Geodynamic Implications, N. Skarpelis, B. Tsikouras and G. Pe-Piper, Geological Magazine, Vol. 145, No. 1, pp. 1-15 (2008).  A geological field study of igneous rocks associated with the Laurium ore deposit.
Mineralogical and fluid inclusion constraints on the evolution of the Plaka intrusion-related ore system, Lavrion, Greece, P. Voudouris, V. Melfos, P.G. Spry, T. Bonsall, M. Tarkian and M. Economou-Eliopoulos, Mineralogy and Petrology, Vol. 93, pp. 79-110 (2008).  Geological field study of the igneous intrusion that produced the Laurium orebody.
Geology and Origin of Supergene Ore at the Lavrion Pb-Ag-Zn Deposit, Attica, Greece, N. Skarpelis and A. Argyraki, Resource Geology, Vol. 59, No. 1, pp. 1-14 (2009).  A study of the non-sulphide secondary minerals in the ore deposit and a discussion of their conditions of formation.
A Spring of Silver, A Treasury in the Earth – Coinage and Wealth in Archaic Athens, K. Sheedy, D. Gore and G. Davis, Ancient History: Resources for Teachers, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 248-256 (2009).  The authors discuss the importance of the Laurium mines in helping Athens defeat the Persian invasion of Greece.
Recherches sur la Composition Métallique de Quelques Séries de Monnaies Antiques Frappées dans le Monde Égéen [Research of the Metal Composition of Some Series of Ancient Coins Struck in the Aegean World], H. Nicolet-Pierre, Revue Numismatique, Vol. 166, pp. 27-34 (2010).  A study of the composition of ancient silver coins.
The Lavrion Mines, A. Katerinopoulos, Natural Heritage from East to West, pp. 27-33 (2010).  Article not seen.
The Geochemistry of Carbonate-Replacement Pb-Zn-Ag Mineralization in the Lavrion District, Attica, Greece: Fluid Inclusion, Stable Isotope and Rare Earth Studies, T.A. Bonsall, P.G. Spry, P.C. Voudouris, S. Tombros, K.S. Seymour and V. Melfos, Economic Geology, Vol. 106, No. 4, pp. 619-651 (2011).  A study of the conditions of formation of the ore minerals.
A Note on the Laurium Stratigraphy and the Early Coins of Athens: The Work of D. Morin and A. Photiades and its Impact on the Study of Athenian Coinage, C. Flament, American Journal of Numismatics, Vol. 23, pp. 1-6 (2011).  The geological setting of the Laurium area involves four alternating stratigraphic layers composed of limestones and then schists, with the contact zones between the layers being the sites of silver mineralisation.  Early mining began from the surface working progressively downwards through these four zones.  The variable composition of the silver ores from these contact zones provides a way of comparing the ages of the manufacture of Athenian silver coins.
Le Laurion et la Cite d'Athenes a la Fin de l'Époque Archaïque [Laurium and the City of Athens at the End of the Archaic Period], C. Flament, L'Antiquité Classique, Vol. 80, pp. 73-94 (2011).  The author discusses the Laurium mining operations around 480 BCE when Athens was sacked by the Persians.
The Laurion Shafts, Greece: Ancient Ventilation Systems and Mining Technology in Antiquity, D. Morin, R. Herbach and P. Rosenthal, Historical Metallurgy, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 9-18 (2012).  Article not seen.
Athenian Mines, Coins and Triremes, G. Aperghis, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 62, No. 1, pp. 1-24 (2013).  Silver mining at Laurium provided the means for Athens to finance the construction of a large fleet in the late 6th and early 5th centuries to protect against a Persian invasion.  The author discusses the need to pay in silver coins those who sailed in the trireme fleet.
Water Use and Management in the Classical and Early Hellenistic Silver Industry of Thorikos and the Laurion, K. van Liefferinge, Babesch, Vol. 88, pp. 109-126 (2013).  Article not seen.
Mining Money in Late Archaic Athens, G. Davis, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Vol. 63, No. 3, pp. 257-277 (2014).  The author discusses the connection between silver mining in Laurium, the monetisation of the Athenian economy through the use of silver coinage, and political developments in the city-state.

Reconsidering the Role of Thorikos within the Laurion Silver Mining Area (Attica, Greece) through Hydrological Analyses, K. van Liefferinge, M. van den Berg, C. Stal, R. Docter, A. De Wulf and N.E.C. Verhoest, Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 41, pp. 272-284 (2014).  A study of water usage in Thorikos for lead-silver ore processing.

“Technological Change in the Laurion Silver Mining Area during the Fifth and Fourth centuries BCE: An Archaeological Contribution to the Study of the Athenian Economy”, K. van Liefferinge, Ph.D. Thesis, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium (2014).  Book not seen.
Alfred Huet et Alfred-Edouard Geyler, C. Mamaloukaki, Revue Centraliens, No. 633, pp. 60-63 (2014).  The author discusses the involvement of these two mining engineers in the operation of the Laurium mines in the late 19th century.
Classical Geology and the Mines of the Greeks and Romans, P.T. Craddock, A Companion to Science, Technology, and Medicine in Ancient Greece and Rome, pp. 197-216 (2016).  The author discusses the understanding that Classical Antiquity had of the earth, its origins, geology, geomorphology and the minerals contained within it with especial reference to metals.
The Lavrion Pb-Zn-Fe-Cu-Ag Detachment-Related District (Attica, Greece): Structural Control on Hydrothermal Flow and Element Transfer-Deposition, C. Scheffer, A. Tarantola, O. Vanderhaeghe, P. Voudouris, T. Rigaudier, A. Photiades, D. Morin and A. Alloucherie, Tectonophysics, Vol. 717, pp. 607-627 (2017).  The authors discussed the geological conditions for ore formation in Laurium.
“A Field Guide on the Geology and Mineralogy of Lavrion, Attica, Greece”, P. Voudouris, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 21 pp. (2017).  A guide prepared for a field trip to the mines.
“Silver – Nature and Culture”, L. Shen, Reaktion Books Ltd., London, 240 pp. (2017).  Book not seen.
The Lavrion Pb-Zn-Ag–Rich Vein and Breccia Detachment-Related Deposits (Greece): Involvement of Evaporated Seawater and Meteoric Fluids During Postorogenic Exhumation, C. Scheffer, A. Tarantola, O. Vanderhaegde, P. Voudouris, P.G. Spry, T. Rigaudier and A. Photiades, Economic Geology, Vol. 114, No. 7, pp. 1415-1442 (2019).  The authors discussed the geological conditions for ore formation in Laurium.
The Significance of the Lavrion mines in Greek and European Geoheritage, A. Periferakis, I. Paresoglou and N. Paresoglou, European Geologist Journal, Vol. 48, pp. 24-27 (2019).  A discussion is given of the historical importance of the silver mines.
“Creating a Constitution: Law, Democracy and the Growth in Ancient Athens”, F. Carugati, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 239 pp. (2019).  The author discusses the creation of the Athenian constitution and democracy to which the financial wealth of the Laurium mines was an important contribution.    
Separating Silver Sources of Archaic Athenian Coinage by Comprehensive Composition Analyses, G. Davis, D.B. Gore, K.A. Sheedy and F. Albarède, Journal of Archaeological Science, Vol. 114, Article 105068 (2020).  The authors discuss the non-destructive chemical analysis of coins by the X-ray fluorescence method to discriminate between ancient geographical sources.

Dr James Shigley is a distinguished research fellow at the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California.

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