Pivko D., 2023: The boom-and-bust cycles of the Spiš travertine extraction during nine centuries (northeastern Slovakia). Acta Geologica Slovaca, 15, 2, 107–125.

The boom-and-bust cycles of the Spiš travertine extraction during nine centuries (northeastern Slovakia)

Pivko D.

Department of Geology and Paleontology, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Comenius University, Ilkovičova 6, 842 15 Bratislava, Slovakia; daniel.pivko@uniba.sk


Whitish high-quality Spiš travertine (Pliocene) was the most used natural stone in Slovakia for ashlars, architectural elements, cladding, flooring, and plastic products. An analysis of written sources, historical maps, aerial and lidar-derived images, and research of travertines on buildings enabled the definition of boom-and-bust cycles of the travertine block extraction. From the 12th to the 13th centuries, the travertine was extracted from block fields and weathered travertine outcrops for the Spiš castle construction. Walloon and German immigrants from Nordrhein region brought skills of processing a limestone and dressed travertine into fine architectural elements for the Spiš castle and churches. From the 14th to the half of the 19th centuries, Spiš travertine blocks were used very rarely, since the German immigrants from Saxony preferred to use sandstones. From the 1860s to 1918, the growing travertine production achieved regional significance due to suitable economic conditions. Stonemasons from northern Italy brought experience with limestone processing and founded opened quarries on travertine outcrops of the Dreveník site. Stonemasons initially used natural joints in travertine massifs to break off the blocks with hand tools and later a machine drilling at the end of the 19th century. The industrial period with national and European travertine use occurred when Czechoslovakia was founded (1918–1939). The machine extraction and processing produced precision stone slabs and tiles. The Spiš travertine soon became a popular stone in the 1930s and was used in most Slovak cities and towns, additionally in Czech cities. The Spiš travertine reached a great national significance between 1950 and 1955 and between 1965 and 1975. The decreasing block yield in the Spišské Podhradie quarry was caused by adverse geological conditions and inappropriate blasting. A demand was compensated by an increased volume of extraction but hampered by a clash of interests with nature protection. A newly discovered deposit in a national natural reserve was closed after 15 years. The reduced quarrying and processing of travertine modern products continue up to the present day in Spišské Podhradie.

Key words: quarries, architecture, products, natural stones, age distribution, travertine

Manuskript doručený: 2023-11-21

Manuskript revidovaný: 2023-12-20

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