About LuxTime

LuxTime is an Audacity project whose main objective is to build and visualize different datasets that will include information from three different fields and scientific perspectives, namely eco-hydrology, environmental cheminformatics and history.

LuxTIME will be using the industrialization of the Minette region, as a testbed for methodological and epistemological reflections on how to study the impact of environmental changes on the health of the local population in a long term perspective. By mixing ‘contextual information’ based on archival evidence with ‘scientific evidence’ deriving from chemical, biological, or medical investigations, the project explores new ground in interpreting “big data of the past” in a truly interdisciplinary setting.

The Belval-case is meant to critically test the analytical potential of a multi-layered research design which – this is the mid-term ambition – be expanded into a national case study; that is the building of a real “Luxembourg Time Machine” including many different kinds of data from many different kind of institutions.

About European Time Machine

The ‘Time Machine: Big data of the past for the future of Europe’ project will create advanced AI technologies to make sense of vast amounts of information from complex historical data sets. The project is funded by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 programme.

Time Machine is aiming to join Europe’s rich past with up-to-date digital technologies and infrastructures, creating a collective digital information system mapping the European economic, social, cultural and geographical evolution across times.

This large-scale digitisation and computing infrastructure will enable Europe to turn its long history, as well as its multilingualism and interculturalism, into a living social and economic resource.


About the Institute for Advanced Studies

The University of Luxembourg (UL) is a research-oriented University in a country that nurtures and promotes its research and innovation ecosystem, aiming at a knowledge-based economy at the heart of Europe. 

With the ambition to leverage its research performance and intellectual environment, the UL established the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS).

The IAS – Luxembourg has four main missions:

• to leverage bold and interdisciplinary research at the very forefront of science.

• to symbolize UL’s values of excellence, interdisciplinarity and internationality.

• to build bridges in-between the UL community, international visitors and the society

• to contribute to the attraction and retention of international talent.

One of the funding instruments within the Institute for Advanced Studies, the Audacity instrument, funds collaborative projects at the forefront of interdisciplinary science, which have a distinctly exploratory and audacious character, like the Luxtime machine project.


Aida Horaniet (C²DH)  https://www.c2dh.uni.lu/people/aida-horaniet-ibanez

Lars Wieneke (C²DH) https://www.c2dh.uni.lu/people/lars-wieneke

Andreas Fickers (C²DH) https://www.c2dh.uni.lu/people/andreas-fickers

Dagny Aurich (LCSB ECI) 

Emma Schymanski (LCSB ECI) 

Reinhard Schneider (LCSB BioCore)  

Venkata Satagopam (LCSB BioCore) 

Wei Gu (LCSB BioCore) 

Laurent Pfister (LIST) 

Christophe Hissler (LIST) 

Owen Miles (LIST) 

Disciplines > C2DH

The Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) is the University of Luxembourg’s third interdisciplinary research centre, focusing on high-quality research, analysis and public dissemination in the field of contemporary Luxembourgish and European history. It promotes an interdisciplinary approach with a particular focus on new digital methods and tools for historical research and teaching. The C²DH is engaged in a vast variety of different research projects, at national and international level.

Disciplines > LCSB

The LCSB is accelerating biomedical research by closing the link between systems biology and medical research. Collaboration between biologists, medical doctors, computer scientists, physicists, engineers and mathematicians is offering new insights in complex systems like cells, organs, and organisms. These insights are essential for understanding principal mechanisms of disease pathogenesis and for developing new tools in diagnostics and therapy.


The Environmental Cheminformatics (ECI) group focuses on the comprehensive identification of known and unknown chemicals in our environment to investigate their effects on health and disease. The Bioinformatics Core (BioCore) focuses on workflows and pipelines to allow researchers to efficiently manage, analyse and interpret their data within and between experimental, theoretical-computational and medical-oriented groups.


Disciplines > LIST

The Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) is a mission-driven Research and Technology Organisation, active in the fields of materials, environment and IT. 

The Catchment and Eco-hydrology research group focuses on a holistic understanding of intrinsically coupled hydrological and human systems. They target a better understanding of eco-hydrological processes controlling global hydrological and biogeochemical cycles, vegetation and sediment dynamics, pollutant removal, and ecosystem resilience. The group relies on their competence in hydrology, geochemistry, sedimentology and environmental systems engineering.

There is hard evidence that global change is having severe and persistent impacts on environmental systems – eventually compromising socio-economic development in many regions of the world.

Luxembourg is far from being sheltered from these threats. There is an pressing need for a better understanding of the involved processes, interactions and feedbacks, both via a better understanding of past evolutions and the development of new prediction tools. Here, we propose the “Luxemburg Time Machine” (LuxTIME) project for exploring radically new ways for analysing and interpreting factual evidence of the past. We intend to build an interdisciplinary framework for investigating “big data” of the past.

By building a digital dataset that will include information from three different fields and scientific perspectives, LuxTIME will use a local showcase, the industrialisation of Belval / Minette region, as a testbed for methodological and epistemological reflections on how to study the impact of environmental changes on the health of the local population in a long term perspective.

Industrial History of the Minette region

How it all started….

Since the Celtic era mines have been exploited in Luxembourg. In 1609 the first blast furnace was built in Dommeldange. Pig iron was processed to wrought iron which was further used in forges. The refined iron industry was prosperous until the 1840s. However, there were no export markets, communication means and money and industry stopped in 1862. Other countries were a few steps ahead such as England, with its economic and technical evolution in creating puddled iron. In the 1850s iron ore from the extension of the Minettes Basin of the Lorraine were re-discovered in the south of Luxembourg. At the end of 1859, the first rail transport was introduced. Those factors contributed mainly to the resumption of the steel production. In 1870 the first furnaces were constructed in Esch-sur-Alzette starting the production of pig iron. The invention of the Bessemer process to produce steel replaced the puddling of iron and since 1879 phosphorus was removed from the pig iron using the Thomas-Gilchrist process. In 1886 the first Thomas-Steel was produced in Dudelange, this ushered in the new steel era in Luxembourg. The country became prosperous in that time and even had to employ foreign labour. Around two-thirds of the working population was occupied by steel industry and in the mines. Many social institutions were built, creating a very advanced social legislation for an industrial country. Being a member of the German Zollverein, it was easy to find markets and get a regular coke supply. However, this ended with world war I in 1914 and Luxembourg had to find new markets. Research was done to modify their steel and save coke, as the consumption of the furnaces exceeded the deposits and foreign material had to be imported from France and Sweden. Moreover, the mineral deposits were limited geographically and the iron ore of the Minette Basin was of low quality. Consequently, the main part of iron ores processed was imported.

Steel production in Belval

The steel era in the Belval region was from 1907 to 1997 with Esch-sur-Alzette being the production centre of the ‘Aciéries Réunies de Burbach-Eich-Dudelange’ group, better known as ARBED. There were three main plants: ARBED ESCH, ARBED BELVAL and ARBED TERRE ROUGE connected via railway, electricity and furnaces.

The end of the steel era

In World War II many steel workers were deported and imprisoned by the Germans. After the liberation 1944 many new orders by the American Army for steel beams came in, keeping the production going. The lack of raw materials and electric power, disorganization of transport and instability of prices forced Luxembourg in 1945 to reduce the production to a minimum. ARBED kept the steel industry going between 1946 and 1974 in the “Les Trente Glorieuses”, increasing the production and expanding to other countries.  In 1974 there was a big crisis in the iron- and steel industry resulting in many plants being closed. The last blast furnace was shut down in 1997 in Belval; nowadays electrical procedures are used for steel production in Luxembourg by ArcelorMittal.

This blog aims to collect all the data visualisations of the project, as well as the data sources, the process of creating and interpreting the data, the analyses and the team’s conclusions. Here we will offer the possibility to explore, discuss, share and collaborate on each of our visualisations.

Dagny, Owen and Aida are currently working on the first data visualisations. Sign up for the newsletter to receive news from us as soon as we start publishing our work.

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