The large gold deposits in the Ore Mountains have been exploited since Antiquity, and the archaeological discoveries in the Brad area bring amazing information about the land of gold.

The ridges of several former volcanoes rise like the walls of a huge fortress around one of the richest gold lands in Europe, located in the area of ​​Bradu.

The ancient necropolis of the Metaliferous Mountains

In Ruda and Barza, two neighboring villages, located near Brad, vestiges of the oldest known gold mines in the Metalliferous Mountains have been preserved: remains of mining galleries chiseled in Roman times, ancient tools used in mining, opaițes, Roman inscriptions and even an ancient miners’ cemetery.

The road to Dealul Muncelu, near the Zdraholț Mine. Photo: Daniel Guță

The ancient necropolis is located in the vicinity of Ruda and Barza villages, on the Muncelul hill, at the foot of which the former entrances to the Ruda 12 Apostoli and Zdraholț galleries remain abandoned and, further down the valley, the ruins of the Barza mining operation.

The place was investigated by archaeologists in the 80s, but it was not the only place rich in archaeological remains. In the surrounding hills, covered with pastures and forests, the locals have found many ancient artifacts.

“The archaeological excavations carried out on the La Petrenești terrace on the Muncelu hill (775 meters altitude), located 12 kilometers southeast of the city of Brad, have so far revealed 129 cremation graves with burning in place, belonging to the colonized Illyrian population here in order to extract and process the gold ore”, said the archaeologist Adriana Rusu, in a report on the results of the research.

Ruda Brad, Tinutul Aurului Photo Daniel Guță (10) JPG

Image 1/17:
Ruda Brad, Tinutul Aurului Photo Daniel Guță (10) JPG

The graves were detected at depths of up to 75 centimeters below ground level, through the crust of burnt earth that outlined the rectangular shape of the pits and that continued inside the entire depth of the graves.

Inside them were discovered fragments of ceramic vessels, cups, jugs, fruit bowls, candlesticks, single-burner pots, nails and iron ladles used to join the pyre on which the deceased was placed. The remains of a supposed mausoleum were discovered in the former cemetery, as well as a plinth and a funerary stele, stone fragments with human figures and funerary inscriptions.

“The cemetery at Muncelu — Brad, through its particularities of burial rites and the shapes of the vessels that were discovered here, belongs to a settler population of Illyrians or Dalmatians, brought to this area immediately after the Roman conquest, a population that engaged in extracting and the processing of gold ore from this part of the Apuseni Mountains in the II — III centuries en The cemetery, a large-scale discovery, implies the existence of some mining settlements in this western part of the Romanian province, whose main point of business was the extraction from the Ruda Brad mines” , the researcher pointed out.

Muncelu Hill, in the 80s. Source: Adriana Rusu, archaeological research

Muncelu Hill, in the 80s. Source: Adriana Rusu, archaeological research

The mountains that surround the villages of Ruda and Barza are studded with remains from the time of the Dacians and the Romans, say some locals.

“In the forests I roamed, I found all kinds of hoes and pieces of Dacian iron tools – I think – used in mining, but also Roman inscriptions. There are many valuable objects for our history, abandoned everywhere, along with the many former mining galleries and abandoned shafts and the foundations of so many old miners’ houses, also swallowed by the forest”, says a former miner from Ruda.

The Romans looked for gold in the depths

According to historians, the ancient mines in the Barza Massif operated from the 2nd century onwards and were abandoned with the invasion of migratory peoples in the following centuries.

Funeral monuments.  Source: Adriana Rusu, archaeological research

Funeral monuments. Source: Adriana Rusu, archaeological research

“During the time of the Romans, Ruda was a remarkable mining center, as evidenced by various remains and stones with Roman inscriptions. Clear and visible traces of Roman exploitation in the Ruda mines were also found in the mine in the Barza Ruda Massif, namely in the two parallel galleries called today Sofia and Mihail, where several Roman steps, artistically dug, are undoubtedly Roman work” , wrote the historian Ion Rusu Abrudeanu.

The Hills of the Land of Gold.  Photo: Daniel Guță

The Hills of the Land of Gold. Photo: Daniel Guță

In the beginning, the Romans also extracted gold only from the sand of the valleys, in the alluvium of the waters that cross the land, the historian Ion Rusu Abrudeanu showed.

“And only when these alluviums were exhausted, the Romans undertook the search for the noble metal in the Metaliferi Mountains as well, as evidenced by the galleries at Roșia Montană, Corna, Bucium, Căraciu, etc. Having slaves and prisoners of war, they had the possibility of very cheap labor, with their help they could start primitive work of breaking the rock blocks by fire and by beating them with iron hammers”, said the historian Ion Rusu Abrudeanu, in the volume ” Romanian gold, its history from ancient times to today” (1933).

In Dacia, the Romanians developed the system of exploitation through galleries, using an advanced technique of consolidating them, through pillars embedded in the ground.

The Roman steps

The Roman galleries usually had steps cut into the rock and were several hundred meters long.

They were narrow, and their height did not exceed one meter, which, according to archaeologists, showed that especially medium-sized and sleeping slaves worked here. Treptele Romane, one such well-preserved ancient mine, can be seen at Ruda.

The place bears this name because at the end of the underground gallery of almost 200 meters, dug by miners in the II-III centuries, there are the stairs built during the Roman occupation in Dacia.

The land of gold, a turbulent history

The invasion of migratory peoples would have stopped the mining activity in the Bradului area for several centuries.

The former Barza mine.  Photo: Daniel Guță

The former Barza mine. Photo: Daniel Guță

In the Middle Ages, in the Ore Mountains, miners’ families founded a lot of villages that gravitated around the mines of gold, silver and other precious and rare metals.

The mines developed at a sustained pace starting from the 17th century, and the treasures from the depths made mining towns such as Abrud, Roşia Montană, Cărpiniş, Câmpeni, Bistra, Bucium, Nojag (Săcărâmb), Certej, Măguta famous beyond the borders of Transylvania Topliţa, Fizeşti, Băiţa, Hărţăgani, Câinelu, Ruda, Porcurea, Almaşu Mare, Poiana, Stănija, După Piatră and others.

The Roman steps.  Photo: Daniel Guță

The Roman steps. Photo: Daniel Guță

At the end of the 19th century, areas like Săcărâmb and Brad benefited from the most efficient ore processing facilities in Europe at that time.

Most of the large deposits in the Ore Mountains have been mined almost continuously for over two centuries. First through archaic methods: thousands of pits were dug by the locals in search of lumps of precious metals, and the sand of the mountain rivers was sifted, ground and washed so that the grains of virgin gold could be collected from it.

The Rise and Decline of the Land of Gold Mines

The mining galleries began to extend hundreds of meters deep into the bowels of the earth, forming huge underground labyrinths. Some mines developed, smelters, preparation plants, grinding mills, metallurgical workshops being built around them.

The gold mines in the Barza perimeter produced over 200 tons of gold in the 20th century, in addition to large amounts of silver, copper and other valuable metals.

In the 1950s, when the exploitation of the gold deposits registered the highest intensity, under the pressure of the communist regime controlled by the Soviets (the precious metal reached the USSR, according to some historians), the mines in the surroundings of Brad yielded more than 2.5 tons of gold per year. In the following decades, their underground galleries reached a total length of more than 500 kilometers.

All the gold mines in the area were permanently closed between the 1990s and 2000s.

Source Link


Brasov-Romania News To Your Inbox!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.