I indulged in the purchase of a book I’ve had my eye on for a while. It is the English translation of De Re Metallica by Georgius Agricola, translated by Herbert Hoover and wife Lou Henry Hoover. This book (or collection of books) was published ca 1550. The English translation came out in 1912, written  by a young mining engineer from Iowa who would eventually become a US president. De Re Metallica is available in newly printed paperback form.

One issue that had stymied previous translators was the fact that Agricola wrote in Latin, a language that had been effectively dead for a thousand years, and Agricola needed vocabulary for situations that were not anticipated while the language was alive. So he invented vocabulary. Somehow the Hoovers were able to noodle  through this.  The translation is heavily footnoted.

Agricola was the first western scholar to document the mining arts as well as considerable geology and mineralogy. While I have not gotten too far with the book, it is apparent that mining technology in the European middle ages was fairly sophisticated by way of the mechanical contrivances used in the operations. Explosives would have been welcome then, but that was not to be for a long time.

They had milling machines, hoists, and sluices. They also performed cupellation, smelting, and calcining. Agricola discusses ore bodies, surveying, milling, property rights, and a host of other practical issues relating to oeprating a mine.

The book was published by a rare book publisher who performs print on demand (POD). There are a number of publishers who do this. Typically the copyright has fallen into the public domain.

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