Georgious Agricola - Founding Father of Metallurgy

DE RE METALLICA LIBRI XII

Georgius Agricola (Georg Bauer)

 

De Re Metallica (On the Nature of Metals) is a book cataloguing the state of the art of mining, refining, smelting and assaying metals, published in Basle (Basel, Bâle, Basilea) by Hieronymus Froben and Nikolaus Episcopius, in March 1556.

The author was Georg Bauer, (* 1494 in Glauchau, Saxony, † 1555 in Chemnitz, Saxony) whose pen name was the latinized Georgius Agricola. The book remained the authoritative text on mining for 250 years after its publication.

Agricola had spent nine years in the Bohemian town of Sankt Joachimsthal (now Jáchymov), in the Czech Republic). This city is famous for its silver mines and mint, and the origin of many silver coins: Thaler, taler, (rijks-)daalder, tolar, (riks-)daler and dollar.

Thereafter he spent the rest of his life in Chemnitz, a mining town in Saxony (Sachsen). Both Sankt Joachimsthal and Chemnitz are in the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge , Krušné hory ).

One of the primary problems this book addressed was the removal of water in the mining. The limit Agricola documents for raising water from the mines via a pump is 32 feet (9.7 m) It could then be dumped into another level and pumped from there. The investigation of this problem would spark a discussion leading to discovery of atmospheric air pressure (1 atm = 10.3 m water column). Also included in this volume are discussions of geology of ore bodies, surveying, mine construction, and ventilation.

De Re Metallica was not limited to mining. Divided into 12 "books" ("libri XII") it also covered assaying (book 7th), refining, smelting, and marketing. It explains the creation of saltpetre, and the use of different acids in the refining process, as well as alchemy, timbering, and even some of the professional health problems of miners and smelters.

Agricola died in 1555, but publication was delayed until completion of the detailed 292 woodcuts. The book was costly and limited in distribution: in many areas it was chained in churches, so that the priest could translate from Latin for parishioners.

 

Full Text (Latin)     English Translation  (by Herbert & Lou Hoover)     Woodcuts     Agricola (en.Wiki)     Agricola (de.Wiki)

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LIBER SEPTIMVS

SEPTIMVS est de experimento uenarum

BOOK SEVENTH : Assaying

 

Mortariolum

A

Little Mould

Mortariolum
inuersum

B

Inverted
Mould

Pistillum

C

Pestle

Eius tuber

D

Its knob

Alterum
pistillum

E

Second Pestle

Catillus
fictilis

A

Scorifier

Catilius
triangularis

B

Triangular
Crucible

Catillus
cinereus

C

Cupel

Canaliculus
ferreus

A

Iron
Mould

Eius
manubrium

B

Its
handle

 

Fornacula
Rotunda

A

Round Assay
Furnace

Fornacula
Quadrangula

A

Rectangular
 Assay Furnace

 

 

 

 


 

 

Prima
libra
minor

A

First
Small
Balance

Secunda

B

Second

Tertia
in
 loculamento
 posita

C

Third
placed
in a
case