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Title: De Re Metallica, Translated from the First Latin Edition of 1556
Author: Agricola, Georgius, 1494-1555
Language: English
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Biographical Introduction, Annotations and Appendices upon
the Development of Mining Methods, Metallurgical
Processes, Geology, Mineralogy & Mining Law
from the earliest times to the 16th Century



A. B. Stanford University, Member American Institute of Mining Engineers,
Mining and Metallurgical Society of America, Société des Ingéniéurs
Civils de France, American Institute of Civil Engineers,
Fellow Royal Geographical Society, etc., etc.



A. B. Stanford University, Member American Association for the
Advancement of Science, The National Geographical Society,
Royal Scottish Geographical Society, etc., etc.


_Dover Publications, Inc._




_The inspiration of whose teaching is no less great than his
contribution to science._

This New 1950 Edition of DE RE METALLICA is a complete and unchanged
reprint of the translation published by The Mining Magazine, London, in
1912. It has been made available through the kind permission of
Honorable Herbert C. Hoover and Mr. Edgar Rickard, Author and Publisher,
respectively, of the original volume.



There are three objectives in translation of works of this character: to
give a faithful, literal translation of the author's statements; to give
these in a manner which will interest the reader; and to preserve, so
far as is possible, the style of the original text. The task has been
doubly difficult in this work because, in using Latin, the author
availed himself of a medium which had ceased to expand a thousand years
before his subject had in many particulars come into being; in
consequence he was in difficulties with a large number of ideas for
which there were no corresponding words in the vocabulary at his
command, and instead of adopting into the text his native German terms,
he coined several hundred Latin expressions to answer his needs. It is
upon this rock that most former attempts at translation have been
wrecked. Except for a very small number, we believe we have been able to
discover the intended meaning of such expressions from a study of the
himself, and by an exhaustive investigation into the literature of these
subjects during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. That discovery
in this particular has been only gradual and obtained after much labour,
may be indicated by the fact that the entire text has been
re-typewritten three times since the original, and some parts more
often; and further, that the printer's proof has been thrice revised. We
have found some English equivalent, more or less satisfactory, for
practically all such terms, except those of weights, the varieties of
veins, and a few minerals. In the matter of weights we have introduced
the original Latin, because it is impossible to give true equivalents
and avoid the fractions of reduction; and further, as explained in the
Appendix on Weights it is impossible to say in many cases what scale the
Author had in mind. The English nomenclature to be adopted has given
great difficulty, for various reasons; among them, that many methods and
processes described have never been practised in English-speaking mining
communities, and so had no representatives in our vocabulary, and we
considered the introduction of German terms undesirable; other methods
and processes have become obsolete and their descriptive terms with
them, yet we wished to avoid the introduction of obsolete or unusual
English; but of the greatest importance of all has been the necessity to
avoid rigorously such modern technical terms as would imply a greater
scientific understanding than the period possessed.

Agricola's Latin, while mostly free from mediæval corruption, is
somewhat tainted with German construction. Moreover some portions have
not the continuous flow of sustained thought which others display, but
the fact that the writing of the work extended over a period of twenty
years, sufficiently explains the considerable variation in style. The
technical descriptions in the later books often take the form of
House-that-Jack-built sentences which have had to be at least partially
broken up and the subject occasionally re-introduced. Ambiguities were
also sometimes found which it was necessary to carry on into the
translation. Despite these criticisms we must, however, emphasize that
Agricola was infinitely clearer in his style than his contemporaries
upon such subjects, or for that matter than his successors in almost any
language for a couple of centuries. All of the illustrations and display
letters of the original have been reproduced and the type as closely
approximates to the original as the printers have been able to find in a
modern font.

There are no footnotes in the original text, and Mr. Hoover is
responsible for them all. He has attempted in them to give not only such
comment as would tend to clarify the text, but also such information as
we have been able to discover with regard to the previous history of the
subjects mentioned. We have confined the historical notes to the time
prior to Agricola, because to have carried them down to date in the
briefest manner would have demanded very much more space than could be
allowed. In the examination of such technical and historical material
one is appalled at the flood of mis-information with regard to ancient
arts and sciences which has been let loose upon the world by the hands
of non-technical translators and commentators. At an early stage we
considered that we must justify any divergence of view from such
authorities, but to limit the already alarming volume of this work, we
later felt compelled to eliminate most of such discussion. When the
half-dozen most important of the ancient works bearing upon science have
been translated by those of some scientific experience, such questions
will, no doubt, be properly settled.

We need make no apologies for _De Re Metallica_. During 180 years it was
not superseded as the text-book and guide to miners and metallurgists,
for until Schlüter's great work on metallurgy in 1738 it had no equal.
That it passed through some ten editions in three languages at a period
when the printing of such a volume was no ordinary undertaking, is in
itself sufficient evidence of the importance in which it was held, and
is a record that no other volume upon the same subjects has equalled
since. A large proportion of the technical data given by Agricola was
either entirely new, or had not been given previously with sufficient
detail and explanation to have enabled a worker in these arts himself to
perform the operations without further guidance. Practically the whole
of it must have been given from personal experience and observation, for
the scant library at his service can be appreciated from his own
Preface. Considering the part which the metallic arts have played in
human history, the paucity of their literature down to Agricola's time
is amazing. No doubt the arts were jealously guarded by their
practitioners as a sort of stock-in-trade, and it is also probable that
those who had knowledge were not usually of a literary turn of mind;
and, on the other hand, the small army of writers prior to his time
were not much interested in the description of industrial pursuits.
Moreover, in those thousands of years prior to printing, the tedious and
expensive transcription of manuscripts by hand was mostly applied to
matters of more general interest, and therefore many writings may have
been lost in consequence. In fact, such was the fate of the works of
Theophrastus and Strato on these subjects.

We have prepared a short sketch of Agricola's life and times, not only
to give some indication of his learning and character, but also of his
considerable position in the community in which he lived. As no
appreciation of Agricola's stature among the founders of science can be
gained without consideration of the advance which his works display over
those of his predecessors, we therefore devote some attention to the
state of knowledge of these subjects at the time by giving in the
Appendix a short review of the literature then extant and a summary of
Agricola's other writings. To serve the bibliophile we present such data
as we have been able to collect it with regard to the various editions
of his works. The full titles of the works quoted in the footnotes under
simply authors' names will be found in this Appendix.

We feel that it is scarcely doing Agricola justice to publish _De Re
Metallica_ only. While it is of the most general interest of all of his
works, yet, from the point of view of pure science, _De Natura
Fossilium_ and _De Ortu et Causis_ are works which deserve an equally
important place. It is unfortunate that Agricola's own countrymen have
not given to the world competent translations into German, as his work
has too often been judged by the German translations, the infidelity of
which appears in nearly every paragraph.

We do not present _De Re Metallica_ as a work of "practical" value. The
methods and processes have long since been superseded; yet surely such a
milestone on the road of development of one of the two most basic of
human industrial activities is more worthy of preservation than the
thousands of volumes devoted to records of human destruction. To those
interested in the history of their own profession we need make no
apologies, except for the long delay in publication. For this we put
forward the necessity of active endeavour in many directions; as this
book could be but a labour of love, it has had to find the moments for
its execution in night hours, weekends, and holidays, in all extending
over a period of about five years. If the work serves to strengthen the
traditions of one of the most important and least recognized of the
world's professions we shall be amply repaid.

It is our pleasure to acknowledge our obligations to Professor H. R.
Fairclough, of Stanford University, for perusal of and suggestions upon
the first chapter; and to those whom we have engaged from time to time
for one service or another, chiefly bibliographical work and collateral
translation. We are also sensibly obligated to the printers, Messrs.
Frost & Sons, for their patience and interest, and for their willingness
to bend some of the canons of modern printing, to meet the demands of
the 16th Century.

                                        _July 1, 1912._

    The Red House,
    Hornton Street, London.



Georgius Agricola was born at Glauchau, in Saxony, on March 24th, 1494,
and therefore entered the world when it was still upon the threshold of
the Renaissance; Gutenberg's first book had been printed but forty years
before; the Humanists had but begun that stimulating criticism which
awoke the Reformation; Erasmus, of Rotterdam, who was subsequently to
become Agricola's friend and patron, was just completing his student
days. The Reformation itself was yet to come, but it was not long
delayed, for Luther was born the year before Agricola, and through him
Agricola's homeland became the cradle of the great movement; nor did
Agricola escape being drawn into the conflict. Italy, already awake with
the new classical revival, was still a busy workshop of antiquarian
research, translation, study, and publication, and through her the Greek
and Latin Classics were only now available for wide distribution.
Students from the rest of Europe, among them at a later time Agricola
himself, flocked to the Italian Universities, and on their return
infected their native cities with the newly-awakened learning. At
Agricola's birth Columbus had just returned from his great discovery,
and it was only three years later that Vasco Da Gama rounded Cape Good
Hope. Thus these two foremost explorers had only initiated that greatest
period of geographical expansion in the world's history. A few dates
will recall how far this exploration extended during Agricola's
lifetime. Balboa first saw the Pacific in 1513; Cortes entered the City
of Mexico in 1520; Magellan entered the Pacific in the same year;
Pizarro penetrated into Peru in 1528; De Soto landed in Florida in 1539,
and Potosi was discovered in 1546. Omitting the sporadic settlement on
the St. Lawrence by Cartier in 1541, the settlement of North America did
not begin for a quarter of a century after Agricola's death. Thus the
revival of learning, with its train of Humanism, the Reformation, its
stimulation of exploration and the re-awakening of the arts and
sciences, was still in its infancy with Agricola.

We know practically nothing of Agricola's antecedents or his youth. His
real name was Georg Bauer ("peasant"), and it was probably Latinized by
his teachers, as was the custom of the time. His own brother, in
receipts preserved in the archives of the Zwickau Town Council, calls
himself "Bauer," and in them refers to his brother "Agricola." He
entered the University of Leipsic at the age of twenty, and after about
three and one-half years' attendance there gained the degree of
_Baccalaureus Artium_. In 1518 he became Vice-Principal of the Municipal
School at Zwickau, where he taught Greek and Latin. In 1520 he became
Principal, and among his assistants was Johannes Förster, better known
as Luther's collaborator in the translation of the Bible. During this
time our author prepared and published a small Latin Grammar[2]. In 1522
he removed to Leipsic to become a lecturer in the University under his
friend, Petrus Mosellanus, at whose death in 1524 he went to Italy for
the further study of Philosophy, Medicine, and the Natural Sciences.
Here he remained for nearly three years, from 1524 to 1526. He visited
the Universities of Bologna, Venice, and probably Padua, and at these
institutions received his first inspiration to work in the sciences, for
in a letter[3] from Leonardus Casibrotius to Erasmus we learn that he
was engaged upon a revision of Galen. It was about this time that he
made the acquaintance of Erasmus, who had settled at Basel as Editor for
Froben's press.

In 1526 Agricola returned to Zwickau, and in 1527 he was chosen town
physician at Joachimsthal. This little city in Bohemia is located on the
eastern slope of the Erzgebirge, in the midst of the then most prolific
metal-mining district of Central Europe. Thence to Freiberg is but fifty
miles, and the same radius from that city would include most of the
mining towns so frequently mentioned in _De Re Metallica_--Schneeberg,
Geyer, Annaberg and Altenberg--and not far away were Marienberg,
Gottesgab, and Platten. Joachimsthal was a booming mining camp, founded
but eleven years before Agricola's arrival, and already having several
thousand inhabitants. According to Agricola's own statement[4], he spent
all the time not required for his medical duties in visiting the mines
and smelters, in reading up in the Greek and Latin authors all
references to mining, and in association with the most learned among the
mining folk. Among these was one Lorenz Berman, whom Agricola afterward
set up as the "learned miner" in his dialogue _Bermannus_. This book was
first published by Froben at Basel in 1530, and was a sort of catechism
on mineralogy, mining terms, and mining lore. The book was apparently
first submitted to the great Erasmus, and the publication arranged by
him, a warm letter of approval by him appearing at the beginning of the
book[5]. In 1533 he published _De Mensuris et Ponderibus_, through
Froben, this being a discussion of Roman and Greek weights and measures.
At about this time he began _De Re Metallica_--not to be published for
twenty-five years.

Agricola did not confine his interest entirely to medicine and mining,
for during this period he composed a pamphlet upon the Turks, urging
their extermination by the European powers. This work was no doubt
inspired by the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1529. It appeared first in
German in 1531, and in Latin--in which it was originally written--in
1538, and passed through many subsequent editions.

At this time, too, he became interested in the God's Gift mine at
Abertham, which was discovered in 1530. Writing in 1545, he says[6]:
"We, as a shareholder, through the goodness of God, have enjoyed the
proceeds of this God's Gift since the very time when the mine began
first to bestow such riches."

Agricola seems to have resigned his position at Joachimsthal in about
1530, and to have devoted the next two or three years to travel and
study among the mines. About 1533 he became city physician of Chemnitz,
in Saxony, and here he resided until his death in 1555. There is but
little record of his activities during the first eight or nine years of
his residence in this city. He must have been engaged upon the study of
his subjects and the preparation of his books, for they came on with
great rapidity soon after. He was frequently consulted on matters of
mining engineering, as, for instance, we learn, from a letter written by
a certain Johannes Hordeborch[7], that Duke Henry of Brunswick applied
to him with regard to the method for working mines in the Upper Harz.

In 1543 he married Anna, widow of Matthias Meyner, a petty tithe
official; there is some reason to believe from a letter published by
Schmid,[8] that Anna was his second wife, and that he was married the
first time at Joachimsthal. He seems to have had several children, for
he commends his young children to the care of the Town Council during
his absence at the war in 1547. In addition to these, we know that a
son, Theodor, was born in 1550; a daughter, Anna, in 1552; another
daughter, Irene, was buried at Chemnitz in 1555; and in 1580 his widow
and three children--Anna, Valerius, and Lucretia--were still living.

In 1544 began the publication of the series of books to which Agricola
owes his position. The first volume comprised five works and was finally
issued in 1546; it was subsequently considerably revised, and re-issued
in 1558. These works were: _De Ortu et Causis Subterraneorum_, in five
"books," the first work on physical geology; _De Natura Eorum quae
Effluunt ex Terra_, in four "books," on subterranean waters and gases;
_De Natura Fossilium_, in ten "books," the first systematic mineralogy;
_De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_, in two "books," devoted largely to the
history of metals and topographical mineralogy; a new edition of
_Bermannus_ was included; and finally _Rerum Metallicarum
Interpretatio_, a glossary of Latin and German mineralogical and
metallurgical terms. Another work, _De Animantibus Subterraneis_,
usually published with _De Re Metallica_, is dated 1548 in the preface.
It is devoted to animals which live underground, at least part of the
time, but is not a very effective basis of either geologic or zoologic
classification. Despite many public activities, Agricola apparently
completed _De Re Metallica_ in 1550, but did not send it to the press
until 1553; nor did it appear until a year after his death in 1555. But
we give further details on the preparation of this work on p. xv. During
this period he found time to prepare a small medical work, _De Peste_,
and certain historical studies, details of which appear in the Appendix.
There are other works by Agricola referred to by sixteenth century
writers, but so far we have not been able to find them although they may
exist. Such data as we have, is given in the appendix.

As a young man, Agricola seems to have had some tendencies toward
liberalism in religious matters, for while at Zwickau he composed some
anti-Popish Epigrams; but after his return to Leipsic he apparently
never wavered, and steadily refused to accept the Lutheran Reformation.
To many even liberal scholars of the day, Luther's doctrines appeared
wild and demagogic. Luther was not a scholarly man; his addresses were
to the masses; his Latin was execrable. Nor did the bitter dissensions
over hair-splitting theology in the Lutheran Church after Luther's death
tend to increase respect for the movement among the learned. Agricola
was a scholar of wide attainments, a deep-thinking, religious man, and
he remained to the end a staunch Catholic, despite the general change of
sentiment among his countrymen. His leanings were toward such men as his
friend the humanist, Erasmus. That he had the courage of his convictions
is shown in the dedication of _De Natura Eorum_, where he addresses to
his friend, Duke Maurice, the pious advice that the dissensions of the
Germans should be composed, and that the Duke should return to the bosom
of the Church those who had been torn from her, and adds: "Yet I do not
wish to become confused by these turbulent waters, and be led to offend
anyone. It is more advisable to check my utterances." As he became older
he may have become less tolerant in religious matters, for he did not
seem to show as much patience in the discussion of ecclesiastical topics
as he must have possessed earlier, yet he maintained to the end the
respect and friendship of such great Protestants as Melanchthon,
Camerarius, Fabricius, and many others.

In 1546, when he was at the age of 52, began Agricola's activity in
public life, for in that year he was elected a Burgher of Chemnitz; and
in the same year Duke Maurice appointed him Burgomaster--an office which
he held for four terms. Before one can gain an insight into his
political services, and incidentally into the character of the man, it
is necessary to understand the politics of the time and his part
therein, and to bear in mind always that he was a staunch Catholic under
a Protestant Sovereign in a State seething with militant Protestantism.

Saxony had been divided in 1485 between the Princes Ernest and Albert,
the former taking the Electoral dignity and the major portion of the
Principality. Albert the Brave, the younger brother and Duke of Saxony,
obtained the subordinate portion, embracing Meissen, but subject to the
Elector. The Elector Ernest was succeeded in 1486 by Frederick the Wise,
and under his support Luther made Saxony the cradle of the Reformation.
This Elector was succeeded in 1525 by his brother John, who was in turn
succeeded by his son John Frederick in 1532. Of more immediate interest
to this subject is the Albertian line of Saxon Dukes who ruled Meissen,
for in that Principality Agricola was born and lived, and his political
fortunes were associated with this branch of the Saxon House. Albert was
succeeded in 1505 by his son George, "The Bearded," and he in turn by
his brother Henry, the last of the Catholics, in 1539, who ruled until
1541. Henry was succeeded in 1541 by his Protestant son Maurice, who was
the Patron of Agricola.

At about this time Saxony was drawn into the storms which rose from the
long-standing rivalry between Francis I., King of France, and Charles V.
of Spain. These two potentates came to the throne in the same year
(1515), and both were candidates for Emperor of that loose Confederation
known as the Holy Roman Empire. Charles was elected, and intermittent
wars between these two Princes arose--first in one part of Europe, and
then in another. Francis finally formed an alliance with the
Schmalkalden League of German Protestant Princes, and with the Sultan of
Turkey, against Charles. In 1546 Maurice of Meissen, although a
Protestant, saw his best interest in a secret league with Charles
against the other Protestant Princes, and proceeded (the Schmalkalden
War) to invade the domains of his superior and cousin, the Elector
Frederick. The Emperor Charles proved successful in this war, and
Maurice was rewarded, at the Capitulation of Wittenberg in 1547, by
being made Elector of Saxony in the place of his cousin. Later on, the
Elector Maurice found the association with Catholic Charles unpalatable,
and joined in leading the other Protestant princes in war upon him, and
on the defeat of the Catholic party and the peace of Passau, Maurice
became acknowledged as the champion of German national and religious
freedom. He was succeeded by his brother Augustus in 1553.

Agricola was much favoured by the Saxon Electors, Maurice and Augustus.
He dedicates most of his works to them, and shows much gratitude for
many favours conferred upon him. Duke Maurice presented to him a house
and plot in Chemnitz, and in a letter dated June 14th, 1543[9] in
connection therewith, says: "... that he may enjoy his life-long a
freehold house unburdened by all burgher rights and other municipal
service, to be used by him and inhabited as a free dwelling, and that he
may also, for the necessities of his household and of his wife and
servants, brew his own beer free, and that he may likewise purvey for
himself and his household foreign beer and also wine for use, and yet he
shall not sell any such beer.... We have taken the said Doctor under our
especial protection and care for our life-long, and he shall not be
summoned before any Court of Justice, but only before us and our

Agricola was made Burgomaster of Chemnitz in 1546. A letter[10] from
Fabricius to Meurer, dated May 19th, 1546, says that Agricola had been
made Burgomaster by the command of the Prince. This would be Maurice,
and it is all the more a tribute to the high respect with which Agricola
was held, for, as said before, he was a consistent Catholic, and Maurice
a Protestant Prince. In this same year the Schmalkalden War broke out,
and Agricola was called to personal attendance upon the Duke Maurice in
a diplomatic and advisory capacity. In 1546 also he was a member of the
Diet of Freiberg, and was summoned to Council in Dresden. The next year
he continued, by the Duke's command, Burgomaster at Chemnitz, although
he seems to have been away upon Ducal matters most of the time. The Duke
addresses[11] the Chemnitz Council in March, 1547: "We hereby make known
to you that we are in urgent need of your Burgomaster, Dr. Georgius
Agricola, with us. It is, therefore, our will that you should yield him
up and forward him that he should with the utmost haste set forth to us
here near Freiberg." He was sent on various missions from the Duke to
the Emperor Charles, to King Ferdinand of Austria, and to other Princes
in matters connected with the war--the fact that he was a Catholic
probably entering into his appointment to such missions. Chemnitz was
occupied by the troops of first one side, then the other, despite the
great efforts of Agricola to have his own town specially defended. In
April, 1547, the war came to an end in the Battle of Mühlberg, but
Agricola was apparently not relieved of his Burgomastership until the
succeeding year, for he wrote his friend Wolfgang Meurer, in April,
1548,[12] that he "was now relieved." His public duties did not end,
however, for he attended the Diet of Leipzig in 1547 and in 1549, and
was at the Diet at Torgau in 1550. In 1551 he was again installed as
Burgomaster; and in 1553, for the fourth time, he became head of the
Municipality, and during this year had again to attend the Diets at
Leipzig and Dresden, representing his city. He apparently now had a
short relief from public duties, for it is not until 1555, shortly
before his death, that we find him again attending a Diet at Torgau.

Agricola died on November 21st, 1555. A letter[13] from his life-long
friend, Fabricius, to Melanchthon, announcing this event, states: "We
lost, on November 21st, that distinguished ornament of our Fatherland,
Georgius Agricola, a man of eminent intellect, of culture and of
judgment. He attained the age of 62. He who since the days of childhood
had enjoyed robust health was carried off by a four-days' fever. He had
previously suffered from no disease except inflammation of the eyes,
which he brought upon himself by untiring study and insatiable
reading.... I know that you loved the soul of this man, although in many
of his opinions, more especially in religious and spiritual welfare, he
differed in many points from our own. For he despised our Churches, and
would not be with us in the Communion of the Blood of Christ. Therefore,
after his death, at the command of the Prince, which was given to the
Church inspectors and carried out by Tettelbach as a loyal servant,
burial was refused him, and not until the fourth day was he borne away
to Zeitz and interred in the Cathedral.... I have always admired the
genius of this man, so distinguished in our sciences and in the whole
realm of Philosophy--yet I wonder at his religious views, which were
compatible with reason, it is true, and were dazzling, but were by no
means compatible with truth.... He would not tolerate with patience that
anyone should discuss ecclesiastical matters with him." This action of
the authorities in denying burial to one of their most honoured
citizens, who had been ever assiduous in furthering the welfare of the
community, seems strangely out of joint. Further, the Elector Augustus,
although a Protestant Prince, was Agricola's warm friend, as evidenced
by his letter of but a few months before (see p. xv). However, Catholics
were then few in number at Chemnitz, and the feeling ran high at the
time, so possibly the Prince was afraid of public disturbances.
Hofmann[14] explains this occurrence in the following words:--"The
feelings of Chemnitz citizens, who were almost exclusively Protestant,
must certainly be taken into account. They may have raised objections to
the solemn interment of a Catholic in the Protestant Cathedral Church of
St. Jacob, which had, perhaps, been demanded by his relatives, and to
which, according to the custom of the time, he would have been entitled
as Burgomaster. The refusal to sanction the interment aroused, more
especially in the Catholic world, a painful sensation."

A brass memorial plate hung in the Cathedral at Zeitz had already
disappeared in 1686, nor have the cities of his birth or residence ever
shown any appreciation of this man, whose work more deserves their
gratitude than does that of the multitude of soldiers whose monuments
decorate every village and city square. It is true that in 1822 a marble
tablet was placed behind the altar in the Church of St. Jacob in
Chemnitz, but even this was removed to the Historical Museum later on.

He left a modest estate, which was the subject of considerable
litigation by his descendants, due to the mismanagement of the guardian.
Hofmann has succeeded in tracing the descendants for two generations,
down to 1609, but the line is finally lost among the multitude of other

To deduce Georgius Agricola's character we need not search beyond the
discovery of his steadfast adherence to the religion of his fathers amid
the bitter storm of Protestantism around him, and need but to remember
at the same time that for twenty-five years he was entrusted with
elective positions of an increasingly important character in this same
community. No man could have thus held the respect of his countrymen
unless he were devoid of bigotry and possessed of the highest sense of
integrity, justice, humanity, and patriotism.


Agricola's education was the most thorough that his times afforded in
the classics, philosophy, medicine, and sciences generally. Further, his
writings disclose a most exhaustive knowledge not only of an
extraordinary range of classical literature, but also of obscure
manuscripts buried in the public libraries of Europe. That his general
learning was held to be of a high order is amply evidenced from the
correspondence of the other scholars of his time--Erasmus, Melanchthon,
Meurer, Fabricius, and others.

Our more immediate concern, however, is with the advances which were due
to him in the sciences of Geology, Mineralogy, and Mining Engineering.
No appreciation of these attainments can be conveyed to the reader
unless he has some understanding of the dearth of knowledge in these
sciences prior to Agricola's time. We have in Appendix B given a brief
review of the literature extant at this period on these subjects.
Furthermore, no appreciation of Agricola's contribution to science can
be gained without a study of _De Ortu et Causis_ and _De Natura
Fossilium_, for while _De Re Metallica_ is of much more general
interest, it contains but incidental reference to Geology and
Mineralogy. Apart from the book of Genesis, the only attempts at
fundamental explanation of natural phenomena were those of the Greek
Philosophers and the Alchemists. Orthodox beliefs Agricola scarcely
mentions; with the Alchemists he had no patience. There can be no doubt,
however, that his views are greatly coloured by his deep classical
learning. He was in fine to a certain distance a follower of Aristotle,
Theophrastus, Strato, and other leaders of the Peripatetic school. For
that matter, except for the muddy current which the alchemists had
introduced into this already troubled stream, the whole thought of the
learned world still flowed from the Greeks. Had he not, however,
radically departed from the teachings of the Peripatetic school, his
work would have been no contribution to the development of science.
Certain of their teachings he repudiated with great vigour, and his
laboured and detailed arguments in their refutation form the first
battle in science over the results of observation _versus_ inductive
speculation. To use his own words: "Those things which we see with our
eyes and understand by means of our senses are more clearly to be
demonstrated than if learned by means of reasoning."[15] The bigoted
scholasticism of his times necessitated as much care and detail in
refutation of such deep-rooted beliefs, as would be demanded to-day by
an attempt at a refutation of the theory of evolution, and in
consequence his works are often but dry reading to any but those
interested in the development of fundamental scientific theory.

In giving an appreciation of Agricola's views here and throughout the
footnotes, we do not wish to convey to the reader that he was in all
things free from error and from the spirit of his times, or that his
theories, constructed long before the atomic theory, are of the
clear-cut order which that basic hypothesis has rendered possible to
later scientific speculation in these branches. His statements are
sometimes much confused, but we reiterate that their clarity is as
crystal to mud in comparison with those of his predecessors--and of most
of his successors for over two hundred years. As an indication of his
grasp of some of the wider aspects of geological phenomena we reproduce,
in Appendix A, a passage from _De Ortu et Causis_, which we believe to
be the first adequate declaration of the part played by erosion in
mountain sculpture. But of all of Agricola's theoretical views those are
of the greatest interest which relate to the origin of ore deposits, for
in these matters he had the greatest opportunities of observation and
the most experience. We have on page 108 reproduced and discussed his
theory at considerable length, but we may repeat here, that in his
propositions as to the circulation of ground waters, that ore channels
are a subsequent creation to the contained rocks, and that they were
filled by deposition from circulating solutions, he enunciated the
foundations of our modern theory, and in so doing took a step in advance
greater than that of any single subsequent authority. In his contention
that ore channels were created by erosion of subterranean waters he was
wrong, except for special cases, and it was not until two centuries
later that a further step in advance was taken by the recognition by Van
Oppel of the part played by fissuring in these phenomena. Nor was it
until about the same time that the filling of ore channels in the main
by deposition from solutions was generally accepted. While Werner, two
hundred and fifty years after Agricola, is generally revered as the
inspirer of the modern theory by those whose reading has taken them no
farther back, we have no hesitation in asserting that of the
propositions of each author, Agricola's were very much more nearly in
accord with modern views. Moreover, the main result of the new ideas
brought forward by Werner was to stop the march of progress for half a
century, instead of speeding it forward as did those of Agricola.

In mineralogy Agricola made the first attempt at systematic treatment of
the subject. His system could not be otherwise than wrongly based, as he
could scarcely see forward two or three centuries to the atomic theory
and our vast fund of chemical knowledge. However, based as it is upon
such properties as solubility and homogeneity, and upon external
characteristics such as colour, hardness, &c., it makes a most
creditable advance upon Theophrastus, Dioscorides, and Albertus
Magnus--his only predecessors. He is the first to assert that bismuth
and antimony are true primary metals; and to some sixty actual mineral
species described previous to his time he added some twenty more, and
laments that there are scores unnamed.

As to Agricola's contribution to the sciences of mining and metallurgy,
_De Re Metallica_ speaks for itself. While he describes, for the first
time, scores of methods and processes, no one would contend that they
were discoveries or inventions of his own. They represent the
accumulation of generations of experience and knowledge; but by him they
were, for the first time, to receive detailed and intelligent
exposition. Until Schlüter's work nearly two centuries later, it was not
excelled. There is no measure by which we may gauge the value of such a
work to the men who followed in this profession during centuries, nor
the benefits enjoyed by humanity through them.

That Agricola occupied a very considerable place in the great awakening
of learning will be disputed by none except by those who place the
development of science in rank far below religion, politics, literature,
and art. Of wider importance than the details of his achievements in the
mere confines of the particular science to which he applied himself, is
the fact that he was the first to found any of the natural sciences upon
research and observation, as opposed to previous fruitless speculation.
The wider interest of the members of the medical profession in the
development of their science than that of geologists in theirs, has led
to the aggrandizement of Paracelsus, a contemporary of Agricola, as the
first in deductive science. Yet no comparative study of the unparalleled
egotistical ravings of this half-genius, half-alchemist, with the modest
sober logic and real research and observation of Agricola, can leave a
moment's doubt as to the incomparably greater position which should be
attributed to the latter as the pioneer in building the foundation of
science by deduction from observed phenomena. Science is the base upon
which is reared the civilization of to-day, and while we give daily
credit to all those who toil in the superstructure, let none forget
those men who laid its first foundation stones. One of the greatest of
these was Georgius Agricola.


Agricola seems to have been engaged in the preparation of _De Re
Metallica_ for a period of over twenty years, for we first hear of the
book in a letter from Petrus Plateanus, a schoolmaster at Joachimsthal,
to the great humanist, Erasmus,[16] in September, 1529. He says: "The
scientific world will be still more indebted to Agricola when he brings
to light the books _De Re Metallica_ and other matters which he has on
hand." In the dedication of _De Mensuris et Ponderibus_ (in 1533)
Agricola states that he means to publish twelve books _De Re Metallica_,
if he lives. That the appearance of this work was eagerly anticipated is
evidenced by a letter from George Fabricius to Valentine Hertel:[17]
"With great excitement the books _De Re Metallica_ are being awaited. If
he treats the material at hand with his usual zeal, he will win for
himself glory such as no one in any of the fields of literature has
attained for the last thousand years." According to the dedication of
_De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_, Agricola in 1546 already looked
forward to its early publication. The work was apparently finished in
1550, for the dedication to the Dukes Maurice and August of Saxony is
dated in December of that year. The eulogistic poem by his friend,
George Fabricius, is dated in 1551.

The publication was apparently long delayed by the preparation of the
woodcuts; and, according to Mathesius,[18] many sketches for them were
prepared by Basilius Wefring. In the preface of _De Re Metallica_,
Agricola does not mention who prepared the sketches, but does say: "I
have hired illustrators to delineate their forms, lest descriptions
which are conveyed by words should either not be understood by men of
our own times, or should cause difficulty to posterity." In 1553 the
completed book was sent to Froben for publication, for a letter[19] from
Fabricius to Meurer in March, 1553, announces its dispatch to the
printer. An interesting letter[20] from the Elector Augustus to
Agricola, dated January 18, 1555, reads: "Most learned, dear and
faithful subject, whereas you have sent to the Press a Latin book of
which the title is said to be _De Rebus Metallicis_, which has been
praised to us and we should like to know the contents, it is our
gracious command that you should get the book translated when you have
the opportunity into German, and not let it be copied more than once or
be printed, but keep it by you and send us a copy. If you should need a
writer for this purpose, we will provide one. Thus you will fulfil our
gracious behest." The German translation was prepared by Philip Bechius,
a Basel University Professor of Medicine and Philosophy. It is a
wretched work, by one who knew nothing of the science, and who more
especially had no appreciation of the peculiar Latin terms coined by
Agricola, most of which he rendered literally. It is a sad commentary
on his countrymen that no correct German translation exists. The Italian
translation is by Michelangelo Florio, and is by him dedicated to
Elizabeth, Queen of England. The title page of the first edition is
reproduced later on, and the full titles of other editions are given in
the Appendix, together with the author's other works. The following are
the short titles of the various editions of _De Re Metallica_, together
with the name and place of the publisher:--

Latin Editions.

  _De Re Metallica_, Froben        Basel Folio 1556.
   "  "      "         "             "     "   1561.
   "  "      "       Ludwig König    "     "   1621.
   "  "      "       Emanuel König   "     "   1657.

In addition to these, Leupold,[21] Schmid,[22] and others mention an
octavo edition, without illustrations, Schweinfurt, 1607. We have not
been able to find a copy of this edition, and are not certain of its
existence. The same catalogues also mention an octavo edition of _De Re
Metallica_, Wittenberg, 1612 or 1614, with notes by Joanne Sigfrido; but
we believe this to be a confusion with Agricola's subsidiary works,
which were published at this time and place, with such notes.

German Editions.

  _Vom Bergkwerck_, Froben, Folio, 1557.
  _Bergwerck Buch_, Sigmundi Feyrabendt, Frankfort-on-Main, folio, 1580.
       "      "     Ludwig König, Basel, folio, 1621.

There are other editions than these, mentioned by bibliographers, but we
have been unable to confirm them in any library. The most reliable of
such bibliographies, that of John Ferguson,[23] gives in addition to the
above; _Bergwerkbuch_, Basel, 1657, folio, and Schweinfurt, 1687,

Italian Edition.

_L'Arte de Metalli_, Froben, Basel, folio, 1563.

Other Languages.

So far as we know, _De Re Metallica_ was never actually published in
other than Latin, German, and Italian. However, a portion of the
accounts of the firm of Froben were published in 1881[24], and therein
is an entry under March, 1560, of a sum to one Leodigaris Grymaldo for
some other work, and also for "correction of Agricola's _De Re
Metallica_ in French." This may of course, be an error for the Italian
edition, which appeared a little later. There is also mention[25] that a
manuscript of _De Re Metallica_ in Spanish was seen in the library of
the town of Bejar. An interesting note appears in the glossary given by
Sir John Pettus in his translation of Lazarus Erckern's work on
assaying. He says[26] "but I cannot enlarge my observations upon any
more words, because the printer calls for what I did write of a
metallick dictionary, after I first proposed the printing of Erckern,
but intending within the compass of a year to publish Georgius Agricola,
_De Re Metallica_ (being fully translated) in English, and also to add a
dictionary to it, I shall reserve my remaining essays (if what I have
done hitherto be approved) till then, and so I proceed in the
dictionary." The translation was never published and extensive inquiry
in various libraries and among the family of Pettus has failed to yield
any trace of the manuscript.


[1] For the biographical information here set out we have relied
principally upon the following works:--Petrus Albinus, _Meissnische Land
Und Berg Chronica_, Dresden, 1590; Adam Daniel Richter, _Umständliche
... Chronica der Stadt Chemnitz_, Leipzig, 1754; Johann Gottfried
Weller, _Altes Aus Allen Theilen Der Geschichte_, Chemnitz, 1766;
Freidrich August Schmid, _Georg Agrikola's Bermannus_, Freiberg, 1806;
Georg Heinrich Jacobi, _Der Mineralog Georgius Agricola_, Zwickau, 1881;
Dr. Reinhold Hofmann, _Dr. Georg Agricola_, Gotha, 1905. The last is an
exhaustive biographical sketch, to which we refer those who are

[2] _Georgii Agricolae Glaucii Libellus de Prima ac Simplici
Institutione Grammatica_, printed by Melchior Lotther, Leipzig, 1520.
Petrus Mosellanus refers to this work (without giving title) in a letter
to Agricola, June, 1520.

[3] _Briefe an Desiderius Erasmus von Rotterdam._ Published by Joseph
Förstemann and Otto Günther. _XXVII. Beiheft zum Zentralblatt für
Bibliothekswesen_, Leipzig, 1904. p. 44.

[4] _De Veteribus et Novis Metallis._ Preface.

[5] A summary of this and of Agricola's other works is given in the
Appendix A.

[6] _De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_, Book I.

[7] Printed in F. A. Schmid's _Georg Agrikola's Bermannus_, p. 14,
Freiberg, 1806.

[8] Op. Cit., p. 8.

[9] Archive 38, Chemnitz Municipal Archives.

[10] Baumgarten-Crusius. _Georgii Fabricii Chemnicensis Epistolae ad W.
Meurerum et Alios Aequales_, Leipzig, 1845, p. 26.

[11] Hofmann, Op. cit., p. 99.

[12] Weber, _Virorum Clarorum Saeculi XVI. et XVII. Epistolae
Selectae_, Leipzig, 1894, p. 8.

[13] Baumgarten-Crusius. Op. cit., p. 139.

[14] Hofmann, Op. cit., p. 123.

[15] _De Ortu et Causis_, Book III.

[16] _Briefe an Desiderius Erasmus von Rotterdam._ Published by Joseph
Förstemann & Otto Günther. _XXVII. Beiheft zum Zentralblatt für
Bibliothekswesen_, Leipzig, 1904, p. 125.

[17] Petrus Albinus, _Meissnische Land und Berg Chronica_, Dresden,
1590, p. 353.

[18] This statement is contained under "1556" in a sort of chronicle
bound up with Mathesius's _Sarepta_, Nuremberg, 1562.

[19] Baumgarten-Crusius, p. 85, letter No. 93.

[20] Principal State Archives, Dresden, Cop. 259, folio 102.

[21] Jacob Leupold, _Prodromus Bibliothecae Metallicae_, 1732, p. 11.

[22] F. A. Schmid, _Georg Agrikola's Bermannus_, Freiberg, 1806, p. 34.

[23] _Bibliotheca Chemica_, Glasgow, 1906, p. 10.

[24] _Rechnungsbuch der Froben und Episcopius Buchdrucker und
Buchhändler zu Basel_, 1557-1564, published by R. Wackernagle, Basel,
1881. p. 20.

[25] _Colecion del Sr Monoz_ t. 93, fol. 255 _En la Acad. de la Hist._

[26] Sir John Pettus, _Fleta Minor_, The Laws of Art and Nature, &c.,
London, 1636, p. 121.

[Illustration xix (Title page from first edition)]

  Metallicos GEORGII AGRICOLAE philosophi


    Si iuuat ignita cognoscere fronte Chimæram,
      Semicanem nympham, semibouemque uirum:
    Si centum capitum Titanem, totque ferentem
      Sublimem manibus tela cruenta Gygen:
    Si iuuat Ætneum penetrare Cyclopis in antrum,
      Atque alios, Vates quos peperere, metus:
    Nunc placeat mecum doctos euoluere libros,
      Ingenium AGRICOLAE quos dedit acre tibi.
    Non hic uana tenet suspensam fabula mentem:
      Sed precium, utilitas multa, legentis erit.
    Quidquid terra sinu, gremioque recondidit imo,
      Omne tibi multis eruit ante libris:
    Siue fluens superas ultro nitatur in oras,
      Inueniat facilem seu magis arte uiam.
    Perpetui proprijs manant de fontibus amnes,
      Est grauis Albuneæ sponte Mephitis odor.
    Lethales sunt sponte scrobes Dicæarchidis oræ,
      Et micat è media conditus ignis humo.
    Plana Nariscorum cùm tellus arsit in agro,
      Ter curua nondum falce resecta Ceres,
    Nec dedit hoc damnum pastor, nec Iuppiter igne:
      Vulcani per se ruperat ira solum.
    Terrifico aura foras erumpens, incita motu,
      Sæpe facit montes, antè ubi plana uia est.
    Hæc abstrusa cauis, imoque incognita fundo,
      Cognita natura sæpe fuere duce.
    Arte hominum, in lucem ueniunt quoque multa, manuque
      Terræ multiplices effodiuntur opes.
    Lydia sic nitrum profert, Islandia sulfur,
      Ac modò Tyrrhenus mittit alumen ager.
    Succina, quâ trifido subit æquor Vistula cornu,
      Piscantur Codano corpora serua sinu.
    Quid memorem regum preciosa insignia gemmas,
      Marmoraque excelsis structa sub astra iugis?
    Nil lapides, nil saxa moror: sunt pulchra metalla,
      Croese tuis opibus clara, Mydaque tuis,
    Quæque acer Macedo terra Creneide fodit,
      Nomine permutans nomina prisca suo.
    At nunc non ullis cedit GERMANIA terris,
      Terra ferax hominum, terraque diues opum.
    Hic auri in uenis locupletibus aura refulget,
      Non alio messis carior ulla loco.
    Auricomum extulerit felix Campania ramum,
      Nec fructu nobis deficiente cadit.
    Eruit argenti solidas hoc tempore massas
      Fossor, de proprijs armaque miles agris.
    Ignotum Graijs est Hesperijsque metallum,
      Quod Bisemutum lingua paterna uocat.
    Candidius nigro, sed plumbo nigrius albo,
      Nostra quoque hoc uena diuite fundit humus.
    Funditur in tormenta, corus cum imitantia fulmen,
      Æs, inque hostiles ferrea massa domos.
    Scribuntur plumbo libri: quis credidit antè
      Quàm mirandam artem Teutonis ora dedit?
    Nec tamen hoc alijs, aut illa petuntur ab oris,
      Eruta Germano cuncta metalla solo.
    Sed quid ego hæc repeto, monumentis tradita claris
      AGRICOLAE, quæ nunc docta per ora uolant?
    Hic caussis ortus, & formas uiribus addit,
      Et quærenda quibus sint meliora locis.
    Quæ si mente prius legisti candidus æqua:
      Da reliquis quoque nunc tempora pauca libris.
    Vtilitas sequitur cultorem: crede, uoluptas
      Non iucunda minor, rara legentis, erit.
    Iudicioque prius ne quis malè damnet iniquo,
      Quæ sunt auctoris munera mira Dei:
    Eripit ipse suis primùm tela hostibus, inque
      Mittentis torquet spicula rapta caput.
    Fertur equo latro, uehitur pirata triremi:
      Ergo necandus equus, nec fabricanda ratis?
    Visceribus terræ lateant abstrusa metalla,
      Vti opibus nescit quòd mala turba suis?
    Quisquis es, aut doctis pareto monentibus, aut te
      Inter habere bonos ne fateare locum.
    Se non in prærupta metallicus abijcit audax,
      Vt quondam immisso Curtius acer equo:
    Sed prius ediscit, quæ sunt noscenda perito,
      Quodque facit, multa doctus ab arte facit.
    Vtque gubernator seruat cum sidere uentos:
      Sic minimè dubijs utitur ille notis.
    Iasides nauim, currus regit arte Metiscus:
      Fossor opus peragit nec minus arte suum.
    Indagat uenæ spacium, numerumque, modumque,
      Siue obliqua suum, rectaúe tendat iter.
    Pastor ut explorat quæ terra sit apta colenti,
      Quæ bene lanigeras, quæ malè pascat oues.
    En terræ intentus, quid uincula linea tendit?
      Fungitur officio iam Ptolemæe tuo.
    Vtque suæ inuenit mensuram iuraque uenæ,
      In uarios operas diuidit inde uiros.
    Iamque aggressus opus, uiden' ut mouet omne quod obstat,
      Assidua ut uersat strenuus arma manu?
    Ne tibi surdescant ferri tinnitibus aures,
      Ad grauiora ideo conspicienda ueni.
    Instruit ecce suis nunc artibus ille minores:
      Sedulitas nulli non operosa loco.
    Metiri docet hic uenæ spaciumque modumque,
      Vtque regat positis finibus arua lapis,
    Ne quis transmisso uiolentus limite pergens,
      Non sibi concessas, in sua uertat, opes.
    Hic docet instrumenta, quibus Plutonia regna
      Tutus adit, saxi permeat atque uias.
    Quanta (uides) solidas expugnet machina terras:
      Machina non ullo tempore uisa prius.
    Cede nouis, nulla non inclyta laude uetustas,
      Posteritas meritis est quoque grata tuis.
    Tum quia Germano sunt hæc inuenta sub axe,
      Si quis es, inuidiæ contrahe uela tuæ.
    Ausonis ora tumet bellis, terra Attica cultu,
      Germanum infractus tollit ad astra labor.
    Nec tamen ingenio solet infeliciter uti,
      Mite gerát Phoebi, seu graue Martis opus,
    Tempus adest, structis uenarum montibus, igne
      Explorare, usum quem sibi uena ferat,
    Non labor ingenio caret hic, non copia fructu,
      Est adaperta bonæ prima fenestra spei.
    Ergo instat porrò grauiores ferre labores,
      Intentas operi nec remouere manus.
    Vrere siue locus poscat, seu tundere uerras,
      Siue lauare lacu præter euntis aquæ.
    Seu flammis iterum modicis torrere necesse est,
      Excoquere aut fastis ignibus omne malum,
    Cùm fluit æs riuis, auri argentique metallum,
      Spes animo fossor uix capit ipse suas.
    Argentum cupidus fuluo secernit ab auro,
      Et plumbi lentam demit utrique moram.
    Separat argentum, lucri studiosus, ab ære,
      Seruatis, linquens deteriora, bonis.
    Quæ si cuncta uelim tenui percurrere uersu,
      Ante alium reuehat Memnonis orta diem.
    Postremus labor est, concretos discere succos,
      Quos fert innumeris Teutona terra locis.
    Quo sal, quo nitrum, quo pacto fiat alumen,
      Vsibus artificis cùm parat illa manus:
    Nec non chalcantum, sulfur, fluidumque bitumen,
      Massaque quo uitri lenta dolanda modo.
    Suscipit hæc hominum mirandos cura labores,
      Pauperiem usque adeo ferre famemque graue est,
    Tantus amor uictum paruis extundere natis,
      Et patriæ ciuem non dare uelle malum.
    Nec manet in terræ fossoris mersa latebris
      Mens, sed fert domino uota precesque Deo.
    Munificæ expectat, spe plenus, munera dextræ,
      Extollens animum lætus ad astra suum.
    Diuitias CHRISTUS dat noticiamque fruendi,
      Cui memori grates pectore semper agit.
    Hoc quoque laudati quondam fecere Philippi,
      Qui uirtutis habent cum pietate decus.
    Huc oculos, huc flecte animum, suauissime Lector,
      Auctoremque pia noscito mente Deum.
    AGRICOLAE hinc optans operoso fausta labori,
      Laudibus eximij candidus esto uiri.
    Ille suum extollit patriæ cum nomine nomen,
      Et uir in ore frequens posteritatis erit.
    Cuncta cadunt letho, studij monumenta uigebunt,
      Purpurei donec lumina solis erunt.

                                        Misenæ M. D. LI.
                                        èludo illustri.


[1] For completeness' sake we reproduce in the original Latin the
laudation of Agricola by his friend, Georgius Fabricius, a leading
scholar of his time. It has but little intrinsic value for it is not
poetry of a very high order, and to make it acceptable English would
require certain improvements, for which only poets have licence. A
"free" translation of the last few lines indicates its complimentary

    "He doth raise his country's fame with his own
      And in the mouths of nations yet unborn
      His praises shall be sung; Death comes to all
      But great achievements raise a monument
      Which shall endure until the sun grows cold."

    Saxony, Landgraves of Thuringia, Margraves of Meissen,
     Imperial Overlords of Saxony, Burgraves of Altenberg
      and Magdeburg, Counts of Brena, Lords of
       Pleissnerland, To MAURICE Grand Marshall
        and Elector of the Holy Roman Empire
         and to his brother AUGUSTUS,[1]
          GEORGE AGRICOLA  S. D.

Most illustrious Princes, often have I considered the metallic arts as a
whole, as Moderatus Columella[2] considered the agricultural arts, just
as if I had been considering the whole of the human body; and when I had
perceived the various parts of the subject, like so many members of the
body, I became afraid that I might die before I should understand its
full extent, much less before I could immortalise it in writing. This
book itself indicates the length and breadth of the subject, and the
number and importance of the sciences of which at least some little
knowledge is necessary to miners. Indeed, the subject of mining is a
very extensive one, and one very difficult to explain; no part of it is
fully dealt with by the Greek and Latin authors whose works survive; and
since the art is one of the most ancient, the most necessary and the
most profitable to mankind, I considered that I ought not to neglect it.
Without doubt, none of the arts is older than agriculture, but that of
the metals is not less ancient; in fact they are at least equal and
coeval, for no mortal man ever tilled a field without implements. In
truth, in all the works of agriculture, as in the other arts, implements
are used which are made from metals, or which could not be made without
the use of metals; for this reason the metals are of the greatest
necessity to man. When an art is so poor that it lacks metals, it is not
of much importance, for nothing is made without tools. Besides, of all
ways whereby great wealth is acquired by good and honest means, none is
more advantageous than mining; for although from fields which are well
tilled (not to mention other things) we derive rich yields, yet we
obtain richer products from mines; in fact, one mine is often much more
beneficial to us than many fields. For this reason we learn from the
history of nearly all ages that very many men have been made rich by the
mines, and the fortunes of many kings have been much amplified thereby.
But I will not now speak more of these matters, because I have dealt
with these subjects partly in the first book of this work, and partly in
the other work entitled _De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_, where I have
refuted the charges which have been made against metals and against
miners. Now, though the art of husbandry, which I willingly rank with
the art of mining, appears to be divided into many branches, yet it is
not separated into so many as this art of ours, nor can I teach the
principles of this as easily as Columella did of that. He had at hand
many writers upon husbandry whom he could follow,--in fact, there are
more than fifty Greek authors whom Marcus Varro enumerates, and more
than ten Latin ones, whom Columella himself mentions. I have only one
whom I can follow; that is C. Plinius Secundus,[3] and he expounds only
a very few methods of digging ores and of making metals. Far from the
whole of the art having been treated by any one writer, those who have
written occasionally on any one or another of its branches have not even
dealt completely with a single one of them. Moreover, there is a great
scarcity even of these, since alone of all the Greeks, Strato of
Lampsacus,[4] the successor of Theophrastus,[5] wrote a book on the
subject, _De Machinis Metallicis_; except, perhaps a work by the poet
Philo, a small part of which embraced to some degree the occupation of
mining.[6] Pherecrates seems to have introduced into his comedy, which
was similar in title, miners as slaves or as persons condemned to serve
in the mines. Of the Latin writers, Pliny, as I have already said, has
described a few methods of working. Also among the authors I must
include the modern writers, whosoever they are, for no one should escape
just condemnation who fails to award due recognition to persons whose
writings he uses, even very slightly. Two books have been written in our
tongue; the one on the assaying of mineral substances and metals,
somewhat confused, whose author is unknown[7]; the other "On Veins," of
which Pandulfus Anglus[8] is also said to have written, although the
German book was written by Calbus of Freiberg, a well-known doctor; but
neither of them accomplished the task he had begun.[9] Recently
Vannucci Biringuccio, of Sienna, a wise man experienced in many matters,
wrote in vernacular Italian on the subject of the melting, separating,
and alloying of metals.[10] He touched briefly on the methods of
smelting certain ores, and explained more fully the methods of making
certain juices; by reading his directions, I have refreshed my memory of
those things which I myself saw in Italy; as for many matters on which I
write, he did not touch upon them at all, or touched but lightly. This
book was given me by Franciscus Badoarius, a Patrician of Venice, and a
man of wisdom and of repute; this he had promised that he would do, when
in the previous year he was at Marienberg, having been sent by the
Venetians as an Ambassador to King Ferdinand. Beyond these books I do
not find any writings on the metallic arts. For that reason, even if the
book of Strato existed, from all these sources not one-half of the whole
body of the science of mining could be pieced together.

Seeing that there have been so few who have written on the subject of
the metals, it appears to me all the more wonderful that so many
alchemists have arisen who would compound metals artificially, and who
would change one into another. Hermolaus Barbarus,[11] a man of high
rank and station, and distinguished in all kinds of learning, has
mentioned the names of many in his writings; and I will proffer more,
but only famous ones, for I will limit myself to a few. Thus Osthanes
has written on [Greek: chymeutika]; and there are Hermes; Chanes;
Zosimus, the Alexandrian, to his sister Theosebia; Olympiodorus, also an
Alexandrian; Agathodæmon; Democritus, not the one of Abdera, but some
other whom I know not; Orus Chrysorichites, Pebichius, Comerius,
Joannes, Apulejus, Petasius, Pelagius, Africanus, Theophilus, Synesius,
Stephanus to Heracleus Cæsar, Heliodorus to Theodosius, Geber, Callides
Rachaidibus, Veradianus, Rodianus, Canides, Merlin, Raymond Lully,
Arnold de Villa Nova, and Augustinus Pantheus of Venice; and three
women, Cleopatra, the maiden Taphnutia, and Maria the Jewess.[12] All
these alchemists employ obscure language, and Johanes Aurelius
Augurellus of Rimini, alone has used the language of poetry. There are
many other books on this subject, but all are difficult to follow,
because the writers upon these things use strange names, which do not
properly belong to the metals, and because some of them employ now one
name and now another, invented by themselves, though the thing itself
changes not. These masters teach their disciples that the base metals,
when smelted, are broken up; also they teach the methods by which they
reduce them to the primary parts and remove whatever is superfluous in
them, and by supplying what is wanted make out of them the precious
metals--that is, gold and silver,--all of which they carry out in a
crucible. Whether they can do these things or not I cannot decide; but,
seeing that so many writers assure us with all earnestness that they
have reached that goal for which they aimed, it would seem that faith
might be placed in them; yet also seeing that we do not read of any of
them ever having become rich by this art, nor do we now see them growing
rich, although so many nations everywhere have produced, and are
producing, alchemists, and all of them are straining every nerve night
and day to the end that they may heap a great quantity of gold and
silver, I should say the matter is dubious. But although it may be due
to the carelessness of the writers that they have not transmitted to us
the names of the masters who acquired great wealth through this
occupation, certainly it is clear that their disciples either do not
understand their precepts or, if they do understand them, do not follow
them; for if they do comprehend them, seeing that these disciples have
been and are so numerous, they would have by to-day filled whole towns
with gold and silver. Even their books proclaim their vanity, for they
inscribe in them the names of Plato and Aristotle and other
philosophers, in order that such high-sounding inscriptions may impose
upon simple people and pass for learning. There is another class of
alchemists who do not change the substance of base metals, but colour
them to represent gold or silver, so that they appear to be that which
they are not, and when this appearance is taken from them by the fire,
as if it were a garment foreign to them, they return to their own
character. These alchemists, since they deceive people, are not only
held in the greatest odium, but their frauds are a capital offence. No
less a fraud, warranting capital punishment, is committed by a third
sort of alchemists; these throw into a crucible a small piece of gold or
silver hidden in a coal, and after mixing therewith fluxes which have
the power of extracting it, pretend to be making gold from orpiment, or
silver from tin and like substances. But concerning the art of alchemy,
if it be an art, I will speak further elsewhere. I will now return to
the art of mining.

Since no authors have written of this art in its entirety, and since
foreign nations and races do not understand our tongue, and, if they did
understand it, would be able to learn only a small part of the art
through the works of those authors whom we do possess, I have written
these twelve books _De Re Metallica_. Of these, the first book contains
the arguments which may be used against this art, and against metals and
the mines, and what can be said in their favour. The second book
describes the miner, and branches into a discourse on the finding of
veins. The third book deals with veins and stringers, and seams in the
rocks. The fourth book explains the method of delimiting veins, and also
describes the functions of the mining officials. The fifth book
describes the digging of ore and the surveyor's art. The sixth book
describes the miners' tools and machines. The seventh book is on the
assaying of ore. The eighth book lays down the rules for the work of
roasting, crushing, and washing the ore. The ninth book explains the
methods of smelting ores. The tenth book instructs those who are
studious of the metallic arts in the work of separating silver from
gold, and lead from gold and silver. The eleventh book shows the way of
separating silver from copper. The twelfth book gives us rules for
manufacturing salt, soda, alum, vitriol, sulphur, bitumen, and glass.

Although I have not fulfilled the task which I have undertaken, on
account of the great magnitude of the subject, I have, at all events,
endeavoured to fulfil it, for I have devoted much labour and care, and
have even gone to some expense upon it; for with regard to the veins,
tools, vessels, sluices, machines, and furnaces, I have not only
described them, but have also hired illustrators to delineate their
forms, lest descriptions which are conveyed by words should either not
be understood by men of our own times, or should cause difficulty to
posterity, in the same way as to us difficulty is often caused by many
names which the Ancients (because such words were familiar to all of
them) have handed down to us without any explanation.

I have omitted all those things which I have not myself seen, or have
not read or heard of from persons upon whom I can rely. That which I
have neither seen, nor carefully considered after reading or hearing of,
I have not written about. The same rule must be understood with regard
to all my instruction, whether I enjoin things which ought to be done,
or describe things which are usual, or condemn things which are done.
Since the art of mining does not lend itself to elegant language, these
books of mine are correspondingly lacking in refinement of style. The
things dealt with in this art of metals sometimes lack names, either
because they are new, or because, even if they are old, the record of
the names by which they were formerly known has been lost. For this
reason I have been forced by a necessity, for which I must be pardoned,
to describe some of them by a number of words combined, and to
distinguish others by new names,--to which latter class belong
_Ingestor_, _Discretor_, _Lotor_, and _Excoctor_.[13] Other things,
again, I have alluded to by old names, such as the _Cisium_; for when
Nonius Marcellus wrote,[14] this was the name of a two-wheeled vehicle,
but I have adopted it for a small vehicle which has only one wheel; and
if anyone does not approve of these names, let him either find more
appropriate ones for these things, or discover the words used in the
writings of the Ancients.

These books, most illustrious Princes, are dedicated to you for many
reasons, and, above all others, because metals have proved of the
greatest value to you; for though your ancestors drew rich profits from
the revenues of their vast and wealthy territories, and likewise from
the taxes which were paid by the foreigners by way of toll and by the
natives by way of tithes, yet they drew far richer profits from the
mines. Because of the mines not a few towns have risen into eminence,
such as Freiberg, Annaberg, Marienberg, Schneeberg, Geyer, and
Altenberg, not to mention others. Nay, if I understand anything, greater
wealth now lies hidden beneath the ground in the mountainous parts of
your territory than is visible and apparent above ground. Farewell.

    _Chemnitz, Saxony,
    December First, 1550._


[1] For Agricola's relations with these princes see p. ix.

[2] Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella was a Roman, a native of Cadiz,
and lived during the 1st Century. He was the author of _De Re Rustica_
in 12 books. It was first printed in 1472, and some fifteen or sixteen
editions had been printed before Agricola's death.

[3] We give a short review of Pliny's _Naturalis Historia_ in the
Appendix B.

[4] This work is not extant, as Agricola duly notes later on. Strato
succeeded Theophrastus as president of the Lyceum, 288 B.C.

[5] For note on Theophrastus see Appendix B.

[6] It appears that the poet Philo did write a work on mining which is
not extant. So far as we know the only reference to this work is in
Athenæus' (200 A.D.) _Deipnosophistae_. The passage as it appears in C.
D. Yonge's Translation (Bonn's Library, London, 1854, Vol. II, Book VII,
p. 506) is: "And there is a similar fish produced in the Red Sea which
is called Stromateus; it has gold-coloured lines running along the whole
of his body, as Philo tells us in his book on Mines." There is a
fragment of a poem of Pherecrates, entitled "Miners," but it seems to
have little to do with mining.

[7] The title given by Agricola _De Materiae Metallicae et Metallorum
Experimento_ is difficult to identify. It seems likely to be the little
_Probier Büchlein_, numbers of which were published in German in the
first half of the 16th Century. We discuss this work at some length in
the Appendix B on Ancient Authors.

[8] Pandulfus, "the Englishman," is mentioned by various 15th and 16th
Century writers, and in the preface of Mathias Farinator's _Liber
Moralitatum ... Rerum Naturalium_, etc., printed in Augsburg, 1477,
there is a list of books among which appears a reference to a work by
Pandulfus on veins and minerals. We have not been able to find the book.

[9] Jacobi (_Der Mineralog Georgius Agricola_, Zwickau, 1881, p. 47)
says: "Calbus Freibergius, so called by Agricola himself, is certainly
no other than the Freiberg Doctor Rühlein von Kalbe; he was, according
to Möller, a doctor and burgomaster at Freiberg at the end of the 15th
and the beginning of the 16th Centuries.... The chronicler describes him
as a fine mathematician, who helped to survey and design the mining
towns of Annaberg in 1497 and Marienberg in 1521." We would call
attention to the statement of Calbus' views, quoted at the end of Book
III, _De Re Metallica_ (p. 75), which are astonishingly similar to
statements in the _Nützlich Bergbüchlin_, and leave little doubt that
this "Calbus" was the author of that anonymous book on veins. For
further discussion see Appendix B.

[10] For discussion of Biringuccio see Appendix B. The proper title is
_De La Pirotechnia_ (Venice, 1540).

[11] Hermolaus Barbarus, according to Watt (_Bibliotheca Britannica_,
London, 1824), was a lecturer on Philosophy in Padua. He was born in
1454, died in 1493, and was the author of a number of works on medicine,
natural history, etc., with commentaries on the older authors.

[12] The debt which humanity does owe to these self-styled philosophers
must not be overlooked, for the science of Chemistry comes from three
sources--Alchemy, Medicine and Metallurgy. However polluted the former
of these may be, still the vast advance which it made by the discovery
of the principal acids, alkalis, and the more common of their salts,
should be constantly recognized. It is obviously impossible, within the
space of a footnote, to give anything but the most casual notes as to
the personages here mentioned and their writings. Aside from the
classics and religious works, the libraries of the Middle Ages teemed
with more material on Alchemy than on any other one subject, and since
that date a never-ending stream of historical, critical, and discursive
volumes and tracts devoted to the old Alchemists and their writings has
been poured upon the world. A collection recently sold in London,
relating to Paracelsus alone, embraced over seven hundred volumes.

Of many of the Alchemists mentioned by Agricola little is really known,
and no two critics agree as to the commonest details regarding many of
them; in fact, an endless confusion springs from the negligent habit of
the lesser Alchemists of attributing the authorship of their writings to
more esteemed members of their own ilk, such as Hermes, Osthanes, etc.,
not to mention the palpable spuriousness of works under the names of the
real philosophers, such as Aristotle, Plato, or Moses, and even of Jesus
Christ. Knowledge of many of the authors mentioned by Agricola does not
extend beyond the fact that the names mentioned are appended to various
writings, in some instances to MSS yet unpublished. They may have been
actual persons, or they may not. Agricola undoubtedly had perused such
manuscripts and books in some leading library, as the quotation from
Boerhaave given later shows. Shaw (A New Method of Chemistry, etc.,
London, 1753. Vol. I, p. 25) considers that the large number of such
manuscripts in the European libraries at this time were composed or
transcribed by monks and others living in Constantinople, Alexandria,
and Athens, who fled westward before the Turkish invasion, bringing
their works with them.

For purposes of this summary we group the names mentioned by Agricola,
the first class being of those who are known only as names appended to
MSS or not identifiable at all. Possibly a more devoted student of the
history of Alchemy would assign fewer names to this department of
oblivion. They are Maria the Jewess, Orus Chrysorichites, Chanes,
Petasius, Pebichius, Theophilus, Callides, Veradianus, Rodianus,
Canides, the maiden Taphnutia, Johannes, Augustinus, and Africanus. The
last three are names so common as not to be possible of identification
without more particulars, though Johannes may be the Johannes Rupeseissa
(1375), an alchemist of some note. Many of these names can be found
among the Bishops and Prelates of the early Christian Church, but we
doubt if their owners would ever be identified with such indiscretions
as open, avowed alchemy. The Theophilus mentioned might be the
metal-working monk of the 12th Century, who is further discussed in
Appendix B on Ancient Authors.

In the next group fall certain names such as Osthanes, Hermes, Zosimus,
Agathodaemon, and Democritus, which have been the watchwords of
authority to Alchemists of all ages. These certainly possessed the great
secrets, either the philosopher's stone or the elixir. Hermes
Trismegistos was a legendary Egyptian personage supposed to have
flourished before 1,500 B.C., and by some considered to be a corruption
of the god Thoth. He is supposed to have written a number of works, but
those extant have been demonstrated to date not prior to the second
Century; he is referred to by the later Greek Alchemists, and was
believed to have possessed the secret of transmutation. Osthanes was
also a very shadowy personage, and was considered by some Alchemists to
have been an Egyptian prior to Hermes, by others to have been the
teacher of Zoroaster. Pliny mentions a magician of this name who
accompanied Xerxes' army. Later there are many others of this name, and
the most probable explanation is that this was a favourite pseudonym for
ancient magicians; there is a very old work, of no great interest, in
MSS in Latin and Greek, in the Munich, Gotha, Vienna, and other
libraries, by one of this name. Agathodaemon was still another shadowy
character referred to by the older Alchemists. There are MSS in the
Florence, Paris, Escurial, and Munich libraries bearing his name, but
nothing tangible is known as to whether he was an actual man or if these
writings are not of a much later period than claimed.

To the next group belong the Greek Alchemists, who flourished during the
rise and decline of Alexandria, from 200 B.C. to 700 A.D., and we give
them in order of their dates. Comerius was considered by his later
fellow professionals to have been the teacher of the art to Cleopatra
(1st Century B.C.), and a MSS with a title to that effect exists in the
Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris. The celebrated Cleopatra seems to have
stood very high in the estimation of the Alchemists; perhaps her
doubtful character found a response among them; there are various works
extant in MSS attributed to her, but nothing can be known as to their
authenticity. Lucius Apulejus or Apuleius was born in Numidia about the
2nd Century; he was a Roman Platonic Philosopher, and was the author of
a romance, "The Metamorphosis, or the Golden Ass." Synesius was a Greek,
but of unknown period; there is a MSS treatise on the Philosopher's
Stone in the library at Leyden under his name, and various printed works
are attributed to him; he mentions "water of saltpetre," and has,
therefore, been hazarded to be the earliest recorder of nitric acid. The
work here referred to as "Heliodorus to Theodosius" was probably the MSS
in the Libraries at Paris, Vienna, Munich, etc., under the title of
"Heliodorus the Philosopher's Poem to the Emperor Theodosius the Great
on the Mystic Art of the Philosophers, etc." His period would,
therefore, be about the 4th Century. The Alexandrian Zosimus is more
generally known as Zosimus the Panopolite, from Panopolis, an ancient
town on the Nile; he flourished in the 5th Century, and belonged to the
Alexandrian School of Alchemists; he should not be confused with the
Roman historian of the same name and period. The following statement is
by Boerhaave (_Elementa Chemiae_, Paris, 1724, Chap. I.):--"The name
Chemistry written in Greek, or _Chemia_, is so ancient as perhaps to
have been used in the antediluvian age. Of this opinion was Zosimus the
Panopolite, whose Greek writings, though known as long as before the
year 1550 to George Agricola, and afterwards perused ... by Jas.
Scaliger and Olaus Borrichius, still remain unpublished in the King of
France's library. In one of these, entitled, 'The Instruction of Zosimus
the Panopolite and Philosopher, out of those written to Theosebia,
etc....'" Olympiodorus was an Alexandrian of the 5th Century, whose
writings were largely commentaries on Plato and Aristotle; he is
sometimes accredited with being the first to describe white arsenic
(arsenical oxide). The full title of the work styled "Stephanus to
Heracleus Caesar," as published in Latin at Padua in 1573, was "Stephan
of Alexandria, the Universal Philosopher and Master, his nine processes
on the great art of making gold and silver, addressed to the Emperor
Heraclius." He, therefore, if authentic, dates in the 7th Century.

To the next class belong those of the Middle Ages, which we give in
order of date. The works attributed to Geber play such an important part
in the history of Chemistry and Metallurgy that we discuss his book at
length in Appendix B. Late criticism indicates that this work was not
the production of an 8th Century Arab, but a compilation of some Latin
scholar of the 12th or 13th Centuries. Arnold de Villa Nova, born about
1240, died in 1313, was celebrated as a physician, philosopher, and
chemist; his first works were published in Lyons in 1504; many of them
have apparently never been printed, for references may be found to some
18 different works. Raymond Lully, a Spaniard, born in 1235, who was a
disciple of Arnold de Villa Nova, was stoned to death in Africa in 1315.
There are extant over 100 works attributed to this author, although
again the habit of disciples of writing under the master's name may be
responsible for most of these. John Aurelio Augurello was an Italian
Classicist, born in Rimini about 1453. The work referred to,
_Chrysopoeia et Gerontica_ is a poem on the art of making gold, etc.,
published in Venice, 1515, and re-published frequently thereafter; it is
much quoted by Alchemists. With regard to Merlin, as satisfactory an
account as any of this truly English magician may be found in Mark
Twain's "Yankee at the Court of King Arthur." It is of some interest to
note that Agricola omits from his list Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.), Roger
Bacon (1214-1294), Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), Basil Valentine (end
15th century?), and Paracelsus, a contemporary of his own. In _De Ortu
et Causis_ he expends much thought on refutation of theories advanced by
Avicenna and Albertus, but of the others we have found no mention,
although their work is, from a chemical point of view, of considerable

[13] _Ingestor_,--Carrier; _Discretor_,--Sorter; _Lotor_,--Washer;

[14] Nonius Marcellus was a Roman grammarian of the 4th Century B.C. His
extant treatise is entitled, _De Compendiosa Doctrina per Litteras ad


Many persons hold the opinion that the metal industries are fortuitous
and that the occupation is one of sordid toil, and altogether a kind of
business requiring not so much skill as labour. But as for myself, when
I reflect carefully upon its special points one by one, it appears to be
far otherwise. For a miner must have the greatest skill in his work,
that he may know first of all what mountain or hill, what valley or
plain, can be prospected most profitably, or what he should leave alone;
moreover, he must understand the veins, stringers[1] and seams in the
rocks[2]. Then he must be thoroughly familiar with the many and varied
species of earths, juices[3], gems, stones, marbles, rocks, metals, and
compounds[4]. He must also have a complete knowledge of the method of
making all underground works. Lastly, there are the various systems of
assaying[5] substances and of preparing them for smelting; and here
again there are many altogether diverse methods. For there is one method
for gold and silver, another for copper, another for quicksilver,
another for iron, another for lead, and even tin and bismuth[6] are
treated differently from lead. Although the evaporation of juices is an
art apparently quite distinct from metallurgy, yet they ought not to be
considered separately, inasmuch as these juices are also often dug out
of the ground solidified, or they are produced from certain kinds of
earth and stones which the miners dig up, and some of the juices are not
themselves devoid of metals. Again, their treatment is not simple, since
there is one method for common salt, another for soda[7], another for
alum, another for vitriol[8], another for sulphur, and another for

Furthermore, there are many arts and sciences of which a miner should
not be ignorant. First there is Philosophy, that he may discern the
origin, cause, and nature of subterranean things; for then he will be
able to dig out the veins easily and advantageously, and to obtain more
abundant results from his mining. Secondly, there is Medicine, that he
may be able to look after his diggers and other workmen, that they do
not meet with those diseases to which they are more liable than workmen
in other occupations, or if they do meet with them, that he himself may
be able to heal them or may see that the doctors do so. Thirdly follows
Astronomy, that he may know the divisions of the heavens and from them
judge the direction of the veins. Fourthly, there is the science of
Surveying that he may be able to estimate how deep a shaft should be
sunk to reach the tunnel which is being driven to it, and to determine
the limits and boundaries in these workings, especially in depth.
Fifthly, his knowledge of Arithmetical Science should be such that he
may calculate the cost to be incurred in the machinery and the working
of the mine. Sixthly, his learning must comprise Architecture, that he
himself may construct the various machines and timber work required
underground, or that he may be able to explain the method of the
construction to others. Next, he must have knowledge of Drawing, that he
can draw plans of his machinery. Lastly, there is the Law, especially
that dealing with metals, that he may claim his own rights, that he may
undertake the duty of giving others his opinion on legal matters, that
he may not take another man's property and so make trouble for himself,
and that he may fulfil his obligations to others according to the law.

It is therefore necessary that those who take an interest in the methods
and precepts of mining and metallurgy should read these and others of
our books studiously and diligently; or on every point they should
consult expert mining people, though they will discover few who are
skilled in the whole art. As a rule one man understands only the methods
of mining, another possesses the knowledge of washing[9], another is
experienced in the art of smelting, another has a knowledge of measuring
the hidden parts of the earth, another is skilful in the art of making
machines, and finally, another is learned in mining law. But as for us,
though we may not have perfected the whole art of the discovery and
preparation of metals, at least we can be of great assistance to persons
studious in its acquisition.

But let us now approach the subject we have undertaken. Since there has
always been the greatest disagreement amongst men concerning metals and
mining, some praising, others utterly condemning them, therefore I have
decided that before imparting my instruction, I should carefully weigh
the facts with a view to discovering the truth in this matter.

So I may begin with the question of utility, which is a two-fold one,
for either it may be asked whether the art of mining is really
profitable or not to those who are engaged in it, or whether it is
useful or not to the rest of mankind. Those who think mining of no
advantage to the men who follow the occupation assert, first, that
scarcely one in a hundred who dig metals or other such things derive
profit therefrom; and again, that miners, because they entrust their
certain and well-established wealth to dubious and slippery fortune,
generally deceive themselves, and as a result, impoverished by expenses
and losses, in the end spend the most bitter and most miserable of
lives. But persons who hold these views do not perceive how much a
learned and experienced miner differs from one ignorant and unskilled in
the art. The latter digs out the ore without any careful discrimination,
while the former first assays and proves it, and when he finds the veins
either too narrow and hard, or too wide and soft, he infers therefrom
that these cannot be mined profitably, and so works only the approved
ones. What wonder then if we find the incompetent miner suffers loss,
while the competent one is rewarded by an abundant return from his
mining? The same thing applies to husbandmen. For those who cultivate
land which is alike arid, heavy, and barren, and in which they sow
seeds, do not make so great a harvest as those who cultivate a fertile
and mellow soil and sow their grain in that. And since by far the
greater number of miners are unskilled rather than skilled in the art,
it follows that mining is a profitable occupation to very few men, and a
source of loss to many more. Therefore the mass of miners who are quite
unskilled and ignorant in the knowledge of veins not infrequently lose
both time and trouble[10]. Such men are accustomed for the most part to
take to mining, either when through being weighted with the fetters of
large and heavy debts, they have abandoned a business, or desiring to
change their occupation, have left the reaping-hook and plough; and so
if at any time such a man discovers rich veins or other abounding mining
produce, this occurs more by good luck than through any knowledge on his
part. We learn from history that mining has brought wealth to many, for
from old writings it is well known that prosperous Republics, not a few
kings, and many private persons, have made fortunes through mines and
their produce. This subject, by the use of many clear and illustrious
examples, I have dilated upon and explained in the first Book of my work
entitled "_De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_," from which it is evident
that mining is very profitable to those who give it care and attention.

Again, those who condemn the mining industry say that it is not in the
least stable, and they glorify agriculture beyond measure. But I do not
see how they can say this with truth, for the silver mines at Freiberg
in Meissen remain still unexhausted after 400 years, and the lead mines
of Goslar after 600 years. The proof of this can be found in the
monuments of history. The gold and silver mines belonging to the
communities of Schemnitz and Cremnitz have been worked for 800 years,
and these latter are said to be the most ancient privileges of the
inhabitants. Some then say the profit from an individual mine is
unstable, as if forsooth, the miner is, or ought to be dependent on only
one mine, and as if many men do not bear in common their expenses in
mining, or as if one experienced in his art does not dig another vein,
if fortune does not amply respond to his prayers in the first case. The
New Schönberg at Freiberg has remained stable beyond the memory of

It is not my intention to detract anything from the dignity of
agriculture, and that the profits of mining are less stable I will
always and readily admit, for the veins do in time cease to yield
metals, whereas the fields bring forth fruits every year. But though the
business of mining may be less reliable it is more productive, so that
in reckoning up, what is wanting in stability is found to be made up by
productiveness. Indeed, the yearly profit of a lead mine in comparison
with the fruitfulness of the best fields, is three times or at least
twice as great. How much does the profit from gold or silver mines
exceed that earned from agriculture? Wherefore truly and shrewdly does
Xenophon[12] write about the Athenian silver mines: "There is land of
such a nature that if you sow, it does not yield crops, but if you dig,
it nourishes many more than if it had borne fruit." So let the farmers
have for themselves the fruitful fields and cultivate the fertile hills
for the sake of their produce; but let them leave to miners the gloomy
valleys and sterile mountains, that they may draw forth from these, gems
and metals which can buy, not only the crops, but all things that are

The critics say further that mining is a perilous occupation to pursue,
because the miners are sometimes killed by the pestilential air which
they breathe; sometimes their lungs rot away; sometimes the men perish
by being crushed in masses of rock; sometimes, falling from the ladders
into the shafts, they break their arms, legs, or necks; and it is added
there is no compensation which should be thought great enough to
equalize the extreme dangers to safety and life. These occurrences, I
confess, are of exceeding gravity, and moreover, fraught with terror and
peril, so that I should consider that the metals should not be dug up at
all, if such things were to happen very frequently to the miners, or if
they could not safely guard against such risks by any means. Who would
not prefer to live rather than to possess all things, even the metals?
For he who thus perishes possesses nothing, but relinquishes all to his
heirs. But since things like this rarely happen, and only in so far as
workmen are careless, they do not deter miners from carrying on their
trade any more than it would deter a carpenter from his, because one of
his mates has acted incautiously and lost his life by falling from a
high building. I have thus answered each argument which critics are wont
to put before me when they assert that mining is an undesirable
occupation, because it involves expense with uncertainty of return,
because it is changeable, and because it is dangerous to those engaged
in it.

Now I come to those critics who say that mining is not useful to the
rest of mankind because forsooth, gems, metals, and other mineral
products are worthless in themselves. This admission they try to extort
from us, partly by arguments and examples, partly by misrepresentations
and abuse of us. First, they make use of this argument: "The earth does
not conceal and remove from our eyes those things which are useful and
necessary to mankind, but on the contrary, like a beneficent and kindly
mother she yields in large abundance from her bounty and brings into the
light of day the herbs, vegetables, grains, and fruits, and the trees.
The minerals on the other hand she buries far beneath in the depth of
the ground; therefore, they should not be sought. But they are dug out
by wicked men who, as the poets say, are the products of the Iron Age."
Ovid censures their audacity in the following lines:--

     "And not only was the rich soil required to furnish corn and
     due sustenance, but men even descended into the entrails of the
     earth, and they dug up riches, those incentives to vice, which
     the earth had hidden and had removed to the Stygian shades.
     Then destructive iron came forth, and gold, more destructive
     than iron; then war came forth."[13]

Another of their arguments is this: Metals offer to men no advantages,
therefore we ought not to search them out. For whereas man is composed
of soul and body, neither is in want of minerals. The sweetest food of
the soul is the contemplation of nature, a knowledge of the finest arts
and sciences, an understanding of virtue; and if he interests his mind
in excellent things, if he exercise his body, he will be satisfied with
this feast of noble thoughts and knowledge, and have no desire for other
things. Now although the human body may be content with necessary food
and clothing, yet the fruits of the earth and the animals of different
kinds supply him in wonderful abundance with food and drink, from which
the body may be suitably nourished and strengthened and life prolonged
to old age. Flax, wool, and the skins of many animals provide plentiful
clothing low in price; while a luxurious kind, not hard to procure--that
is the so called _seric_ material, is furnished by the down of trees and
the webs of the silk worm. So that the body has absolutely no need of
the metals, so hidden in the depths of the earth and for the greater
part very expensive. Wherefore it is said that this maxim of Euripides
is approved in assemblies of learned men, and with good reason was
always on the lips of Socrates:

     "Works of silver and purple are of use, not for human life, but
     rather for Tragedians."[14]

These critics praise also this saying from Timocreon of Rhodes:

     "O Unseeing Plutus, would that thou hadst never appeared in the
     earth or in the sea or on the land, but that thou didst have
     thy habitation in Tartarus and Acheron, for out of thee arise
     all evil things which overtake mankind"[15].

They greatly extol these lines from Phocylides:

     "Gold and silver are injurious to mortals; gold is the source
     of crime, the plague of life, and the ruin of all things. Would
     that thou were not such an attractive scourge! because of thee
     arise robberies, homicides, warfare, brothers are maddened
     against brothers, and children against parents."

This from Naumachius also pleases them:

     "Gold and silver are but dust, like the stones that lie
     scattered on the pebbly beach, or on the margins of the

On the other hand, they censure these verses of Euripides:

     "Plutus is the god for wise men; all else is mere folly and at
     the same time a deception in words."

So in like manner these lines from Theognis:

     "O Plutus, thou most beautiful and placid god! whilst I have
     thee, however bad I am, I can be regarded as good."

They also blame Aristodemus, the Spartan, for these words:

     "Money makes the man; no one who is poor is either good or

And they rebuke these songs of Timocles:

     "Money is the life and soul of mortal men. He who has not
     heaped up riches for himself wanders like a dead man amongst
     the living."

Finally, they blame Menander when he wrote:

     "Epicharmus asserts that the gods are water, wind, fire, earth,
     sun, and stars. But I am of opinion that the gods of any use to
     us are silver and gold; for if thou wilt set these up in thy
     house thou mayest seek whatever thou wilt. All things will fall
     to thy lot; land, houses, slaves, silver-work; moreover
     friends, judges, and witnesses. Only give freely, for thus thou
     hast the gods to serve thee."

But besides this, the strongest argument of the detractors is that the
fields are devastated by mining operations, for which reason formerly
Italians were warned by law that no one should dig the earth for metals
and so injure their very fertile fields, their vineyards, and their
olive groves. Also they argue that the woods and groves are cut down,
for there is need of an endless amount of wood for timbers, machines,
and the smelting of metals. And when the woods and groves are felled,
then are exterminated the beasts and birds, very many of which furnish a
pleasant and agreeable food for man. Further, when the ores are washed,
the water which has been used poisons the brooks and streams, and either
destroys the fish or drives them away. Therefore the inhabitants of
these regions, on account of the devastation of their fields, woods,
groves, brooks and rivers, find great difficulty in procuring the
necessaries of life, and by reason of the destruction of the timber they
are forced to greater expense in erecting buildings. Thus it is said, it
is clear to all that there is greater detriment from mining than the
value of the metals which the mining produces.

So in fierce contention they clamour, showing by such examples as follow
that every great man has been content with virtue, and despised metals.
They praise Bias because he esteemed the metals merely as fortune's
playthings, not as his real wealth. When his enemies had captured his
native Priene, and his fellow-citizens laden with precious things had
betaken themselves to flight, he was asked by one, why he carried away
none of his goods with him, and he replied, "I carry all my possessions
with me." And it is said that Socrates, having received twenty minae
sent to him by Aristippus, a grateful disciple, refused them and sent
them back to him by the command of his conscience. Aristippus, following
his example in this matter, despised gold and regarded it as of no
value. And once when he was making a journey with his slaves, and they,
laden with the gold, went too slowly, he ordered them to keep only as
much of it as they could carry without distress and to throw away the
remainder[16]. Moreover, Anacreon of Teos, an ancient and noble poet,
because he had been troubled about them for two nights, returned five
talents which had been given him by Polycrates, saying that they were
not worth the anxiety which he had gone through on their account. In
like manner celebrated and exceedingly powerful princes have imitated
the philosophers in their scorn and contempt for gold and silver. There
was for example, Phocion, the Athenian, who was appointed general of the
army so many times, and who, when a large sum of gold was sent to him as
a gift by Alexander, King of Macedon, deemed it trifling and scorned it.
And Marcus Curius ordered the gold to be carried back to the Samnites,
as did also Fabricius Luscinus with regard to the silver and copper. And
certain Republics have forbidden their citizens the use and employment
of gold and silver by law and ordinance; the Lacedaemonians, by the
decrees and ordinances of Lycurgus, used diligently to enquire among
their citizens whether they possessed any of these things or not, and
the possessor, when he was caught, was punished according to law and
justice. The inhabitants of a town on the Tigris, called Babytace,
buried their gold in the ground so that no one should use it. The
Scythians condemned the use of gold and silver so that they might not
become avaricious.

Further are the metals reviled; in the first place people wantonly abuse
gold and silver and call them deadly and nefarious pests of the human
race, because those who possess them are in the greatest peril, for
those who have none lay snares for the possessors of wealth, and thus
again and again the metals have been the cause of destruction and ruin.
For example, Polymnestor, King of Thrace, to obtain possession of his
gold, killed Polydorus, his noble guest and the son of Priam, his
father-in-law, and old friend. Pygmalion, the King of Tyre, in order
that he might seize treasures of gold and silver, killed his sister's
husband, a priest, taking no account of either kinship or religion. For
love of gold Eriphyle betrayed her husband Amphiaraus to his enemy.
Likewise Lasthenes betrayed the city of Olynthus to Philip of Macedon.
The daughter of Spurius Tarpeius, having been bribed with gold, admitted
the Sabines into the citadel of Rome. Claudius Curio sold his country
for gold to Cæsar, the Dictator. Gold, too, was the cause of the
downfall of Aesculapius, the great physician, who it was believed was
the son of Apollo. Similarly Marcus Crassus, through his eager desire
for the gold of the Parthians, was completely overcome together with his
son and eleven legions, and became the jest of his enemies; for they
poured liquid gold into the gaping mouth of the slain Crassus, saying:
"Thou hast thirsted for gold, therefore drink gold."

But why need I cite here these many examples from history?[17] It is
almost our daily experience to learn that, for the sake of obtaining
gold and silver, doors are burst open, walls are pierced, wretched
travellers are struck down by rapacious and cruel men born to theft,
sacrilege, invasion, and robbery. We see thieves seized and strung up
before us, sacrilegious persons burnt alive, the limbs of robbers broken
on the wheel, wars waged for the same reason, which are not only
destructive to those against whom they are waged, but to those also who
carry them on. Nay, but they say that the precious metals foster all
manner of vice, such as the seduction of women, adultery, and
unchastity, in short, crimes of violence against the person. Therefore
the Poets, when they represent Jove transformed into a golden shower and
falling into the lap of Danae, merely mean that he had found for himself
a safe road by the use of gold, by which he might enter the tower for
the purpose of violating the maiden. Moreover, the fidelity of many men
is overthrown by the love of gold and silver, judicial sentences are
bought, and innumerable crimes are perpetrated. For truly, as Propertius

     "This is indeed the Golden Age. The greatest rewards come from
     gold; by gold love is won; by gold is faith destroyed; by gold
     is justice bought; the law follows the track of gold, while
     modesty will soon follow it when law is gone."

Diphilus says:

     "I consider that nothing is more powerful than gold. By it all
     things are torn asunder; all things are accomplished."

Therefore, all the noblest and best despise these riches, deservedly and
with justice, and esteem them as nothing. And this is said by the old
man in Plautus:

     "I hate gold. It has often impelled many people to many wrong

In this country too, the poets inveigh with stinging reproaches against
money coined from gold and silver. And especially did Juvenal:

     "Since the majesty of wealth is the most sacred thing among us;
     although, O pernicious money, thou dost not yet inhabit a
     temple, nor have we erected altars to money."

And in another place:

     "Demoralising money first introduced foreign customs, and
     voluptuous wealth weakened our race with disgraceful

And very many vehemently praise the barter system which men used before
money was devised, and which even now obtains among certain simple

And next they raise a great outcry against other metals, as iron, than
which they say nothing more pernicious could have been brought into the
life of man. For it is employed in making swords, javelins, spears,
pikes, arrows--weapons by which men are wounded, and which cause
slaughter, robbery, and wars. These things so moved the wrath of Pliny
that he wrote: "Iron is used not only in hand to hand fighting, but also
to form the winged missiles of war, sometimes for hurling engines,
sometimes for lances, sometimes even for arrows. I look upon it as the
most deadly fruit of human ingenuity. For to bring Death to men more
quickly we have given wings to iron and taught it to fly."[19] The
spear, the arrow from the bow, or the bolt from the catapult and other
engines can be driven into the body of only one man, while the iron
cannon-ball fired through the air, can go through the bodies of many
men, and there is no marble or stone object so hard that it cannot be
shattered by the force and shock. Therefore it levels the highest towers
to the ground, shatters and destroys the strongest walls. Certainly the
ballistas which throw stones, the battering rams and other ancient war
engines for making breaches in walls of fortresses and hurling down
strongholds, seem to have little power in comparison with our present
cannon. These emit horrible sounds and noises, not less than thunder,
flashes of fire burst from them like the lightning, striking, crushing,
and shattering buildings, belching forth flames and kindling fires even
as lightning flashes. So that with more justice could it be said of the
impious men of our age than of Salmoneus of ancient days, that they had
snatched lightning from Jupiter and wrested it from his hands. Nay,
rather there has been sent from the infernal regions to the earth this
force for the destruction of men, so that Death may snatch to himself as
many as possible by one stroke.

But because muskets are nowadays rarely made of iron, and the large ones
never, but of a certain mixture of copper and tin, they confer more
maledictions on copper and tin than on iron. In this connection too,
they mention the brazen bull of Phalaris, the brazen ox of the people of
Pergamus, racks in the shape of an iron dog or a horse, manacles,
shackles, wedges, hooks, and red-hot plates. Cruelly racked by such
instruments, people are driven to confess crimes and misdeeds which they
have never committed, and innocent men are miserably tortured to death
by every conceivable kind of torment.

It is claimed too, that lead is a pestilential and noxious metal, for
men are punished by means of molten lead, as Horace describes in the ode
addressed to the Goddess Fortune: "Cruel Necessity ever goes before thee
bearing in her brazen hand the spikes and wedges, while the awful hook
and molten lead are also not lacking."[20] In their desire to excite
greater odium for this metal, they are not silent about the leaden balls
of muskets, and they find in it the cause of wounds and death.

They contend that, inasmuch as Nature has concealed metals far within
the depths of the earth, and because they are not necessary to human
life, they are therefore despised and repudiated by the noblest, and
should not be mined, and seeing that when brought to light they have
always proved the cause of very great evils, it follows that mining is
not useful to mankind, but on the contrary harmful and destructive.
Several good men have been so perturbed by these tragedies that they
conceive an intensely bitter hatred toward metals, and they wish
absolutely that metals had never been created, or being created, that no
one had ever dug them out. The more I commend the singular honesty,
innocence, and goodness of such men, the more anxious shall I be to
remove utterly and eradicate all error from their minds and to reveal
the sound view, which is that the metals are most useful to mankind.

In the first place then, those who speak ill of the metals and refuse to
make use of them, do not see that they accuse and condemn as wicked the
Creator Himself, when they assert that He fashioned some things vainly
and without good cause, and thus they regard Him as the Author of evils,
which opinion is certainly not worthy of pious and sensible men.

In the next place, the earth does not conceal metals in her depths
because she does not wish that men should dig them out, but because
provident and sagacious Nature has appointed for each thing its place.
She generates them in the veins, stringers, and seams in the rocks, as
though in special vessels and receptacles for such material. The metals
cannot be produced in the other elements because the materials for their
formation are wanting. For if they were generated in the air, a thing
that rarely happens, they could not find a firm resting-place, but by
their own force and weight would settle down on to the ground. Seeing
then that metals have their proper abiding place in the bowels of the
earth, who does not see that these men do not reach their conclusions by
good logic?

They say, "Although metals are in the earth, each located in its own
proper place where it originated, yet because they lie thus enclosed and
hidden from sight, they should not be taken out." But, in refutation of
these attacks, which are so annoying, I will on behalf of the metals
instance the fish, which we catch, hidden and concealed though they be
in the water, even in the sea. Indeed, it is far stranger that man, a
terrestrial animal, should search the interior of the sea than the
bowels of the earth. For as birds are born to fly freely through the
air, so are fishes born to swim through the waters, while to other
creatures Nature has given the earth that they might live in it, and
particularly to man that he might cultivate it and draw out of its
caverns metals and other mineral products. On the other hand, they say
that we eat fish, but neither hunger nor thirst is dispelled by
minerals, nor are they useful in clothing the body, which is another
argument by which these people strive to prove that metals should not be
taken out. But man without metals cannot provide those things which he
needs for food and clothing. For, though the produce of the land
furnishes the greatest abundance of food for the nourishment of our
bodies, no labour can be carried on and completed without tools. The
ground itself is turned up with ploughshares and harrows, tough stalks
and the tops of the roots are broken off and dug up with a mattock, the
sown seed is harrowed, the corn field is hoed and weeded; the ripe
grain with part of the stalk is cut down by scythes and threshed on the
floor, or its ears are cut off and stored in the barn and later beaten
with flails and winnowed with fans, until finally the pure grain is
stored in the granary, whence it is brought forth again when occasion
demands or necessity arises. Again, if we wish to procure better and
more productive fruits from trees and bushes, we must resort to
cultivating, pruning, and grafting, which cannot be done without tools.
Even as without vessels we cannot keep or hold liquids, such as milk,
honey, wine, or oil, neither could so many living things be cared for
without buildings to protect them from long-continued rain and
intolerable cold. Most of the rustic instruments are made of iron, as
ploughshares, share-beams, mattocks, the prongs of harrows, hoes,
planes, hay-forks, straw cutters, pruning shears, pruning hooks, spades,
lances, forks, and weed cutters. Vessels are also made of copper or
lead. Neither are wooden instruments or vessels made without iron. Wine
cellars, oil-mills, stables, or any other part of a farm building could
not be built without iron tools. Then if the bull, the wether, the goat,
or any other domestic animal is led away from the pasture to the
butcher, or if the poulterer brings from the farm a chicken, a hen, or a
capon for the cook, could any of these animals be cut up and divided
without axes and knives? I need say nothing here about bronze and copper
pots for cooking, because for these purposes one could make use of
earthen vessels, but even these in turn could not be made and fashioned
by the potter without tools, for no instruments can be made out of wood
alone, without the use of iron. Furthermore, hunting, fowling, and
fishing supply man with food, but when the stag has been ensnared does
not the hunter transfix him with his spear? As he stands or runs, does
he not pierce him with an arrow? Or pierce him with a bullet? Does not
the fowler in the same way kill the moor-fowl or pheasant with an arrow?
Or does he not discharge into its body the ball from the musket? I will
not speak of the snares and other instruments with which the woodcock,
woodpecker, and other wild birds are caught, lest I pursue unseasonably
and too minutely single instances. Lastly, with his fish-hook and net
does not the fisherman catch the fish in the sea, in the lakes, in
fish-ponds, or in rivers? But the hook is of iron, and sometimes we see
lead or iron weights attached to the net. And most fish that are caught
are afterward cut up and disembowelled with knives and axes. But, more
than enough has been said on the matter of food.

Now I will speak of clothing, which is made out of wool, flax, feathers,
hair, fur, or leather. First the sheep are sheared, then the wool is
combed. Next the threads are drawn out, while later the warp is
suspended in the shuttle under which passes the wool. This being struck
by the comb, at length cloth is formed either from threads alone or from
threads and hair. Flax, when gathered, is first pulled by hooks. Then it
is dipped in water and afterward dried, beaten into tow with a heavy
mallet, and carded, then drawn out into threads, and finally woven into
cloth. But has the artisan or weaver of the cloth any instrument not
made of iron? Can one be made of wood without the aid of iron? The
cloth or web must be cut into lengths for the tailor. Can this be done
without knife or scissors? Can the tailor sew together any garments
without a needle? Even peoples dwelling beyond the seas cannot make a
covering for their bodies, fashioned of feathers, without these same
implements. Neither can the furriers do without them in sewing together
the pelts of any kind of animals. The shoemaker needs a knife to cut the
leather, another to scrape it, and an awl to perforate it before he can
make shoes. These coverings for the body are either woven or stitched.
Buildings too, which protect the same body from rain, wind, cold, and
heat, are not constructed without axes, saws, and augers.

But what need of more words? If we remove metals from the service of
man, all methods of protecting and sustaining health and more carefully
preserving the course of life are done away with. If there were no
metals, men would pass a horrible and wretched existence in the midst of
wild beasts; they would return to the acorns and fruits and berries of
the forest. They would feed upon the herbs and roots which they plucked
up with their nails. They would dig out caves in which to lie down at
night, and by day they would rove in the woods and plains at random like
beasts, and inasmuch as this condition is utterly unworthy of humanity,
with its splendid and glorious natural endowment, will anyone be so
foolish or obstinate as not to allow that metals are necessary for food
and clothing and that they tend to preserve life?

Moreover, as the miners dig almost exclusively in mountains otherwise
unproductive, and in valleys invested in gloom, they do either slight
damage to the fields or none at all. Lastly, where woods and glades are
cut down, they may be sown with grain after they have been cleared from
the roots of shrubs and trees. These new fields soon produce rich crops,
so that they repair the losses which the inhabitants suffer from
increased cost of timber. Moreover, with the metals which are melted
from the ore, birds without number, edible beasts and fish can be
purchased elsewhere and brought to these mountainous regions.

I will pass to the illustrations I have mentioned. Bias of Priene, when
his country was taken, carried away out of the city none of his
valuables. So strong a man with such a reputation for wisdom had no need
to fear personal danger from the enemy, but this in truth cannot be said
of him because he hastily took to flight; the throwing away of his goods
does not seem to me so great a matter, for he had lost his house, his
estates, and even his country, than which nothing is more precious. Nay,
I should be convinced of Bias's contempt and scorn for possessions of
this kind, if before his country was captured he had bestowed them
freely on relations and friends, or had distributed them to the very
poor, for this he could have done freely and without question. Whereas
his conduct, which the Greeks admire so greatly, was due, it would seem,
to his being driven out by the enemy and stricken with fear. Socrates in
truth did not despise gold, but would not accept money for his teaching.
As for Aristippus of Cyrene, if he had gathered and saved the gold which
he ordered his slaves to throw away, he might have bought the things
which he needed for the necessaries of life, and he would not, by reason
of his poverty, have then been obliged to flatter the tyrant Dionysius,
nor would he ever have been called by him a King's dog. For this reason
Horace, speaking of Damasippus when reviling Staberus for valuing riches
very highly, says:

     "What resemblance has the Grecian Aristippus to this fellow? He
     who commanded his slaves to throw away the gold in the midst of
     Libya because they went too slowly, impeded by the weight of
     their burden--which of these two men is the more insane?"[21]

Insane indeed is he who makes more of riches than of virtue. Insane also
is he who rejects them and considers them as worth nothing, instead of
using them with reason. Yet as to the gold which Aristippus on another
occasion flung into the sea from a boat, this he did with a wise and
prudent mind. For learning that it was a pirate boat in which he was
sailing, and fearing for his life, he counted his gold and then throwing
it of his own will into the sea, he groaned as if he had done it
unwillingly. But afterward, when he escaped the peril, he said: "It is
better that this gold itself should be lost than that I should have
perished because of it." Let it be granted that some philosophers, as
well as Anacreon of Teos, despised gold and silver. Anaxagoras of
Clazomenae also gave up his sheep-farms and became a shepherd. Crates
the Theban too, being annoyed that his estate and other kinds of wealth
caused him worry, and that in his contemplations his mind was thereby
distracted, resigned a property valued at ten talents, and taking a
cloak and wallet, in poverty devoted all his thought and efforts to
philosophy. Is it true that because these philosophers despised money,
all others declined wealth in cattle? Did they refuse to cultivate lands
or to dwell in houses? There were certainly many, on the other hand,
who, though affluent, became famous in the pursuit of learning and in
the knowledge of divine and human laws, such as Aristotle, Cicero, and
Seneca. As for Phocion, he did not deem it honest to accept the gold
sent to him by Alexander. For if he had consented to use it, the king as
much as himself would have incurred the hatred and aversion of the
Athenians, and these very people were afterward so ungrateful toward
this excellent man that they compelled him to drink hemlock. For what
would have been less becoming to Marcus Curius and Fabricius Luscinus
than to accept gold from their enemies, who hoped that by these means
those leaders could be corrupted or would become odious to their fellow
citizens, their purpose being to cause dissentions among the Romans and
destroy the Republic utterly. Lycurgus, however, ought to have given
instructions to the Spartans as to the use of gold and silver, instead
of abolishing things good in themselves. As to the Babytacenses, who
does not see that they were senseless and envious? For with their gold
they might have bought things of which they were in need, or even given
it to neighbouring peoples to bind them more closely to themselves with
gifts and favours. Finally, the Scythians, by condemning the use of gold
and silver alone, did not free themselves utterly from avarice, because
although he is not enjoying them, one who can possess other forms of
property may also become avaricious.

Now let us reply to the attacks hurled against the products of mines. In
the first place, they call gold and silver the scourge of mankind
because they are the cause of destruction and ruin to their possessors.
But in this manner, might not anything that we possess be called a
scourge to human kind,--whether it be a horse, or a garment, or anything
else? For, whether one rides a splendid horse, or journeys well clad, he
would give occasion to a robber to kill him. Are we then not to ride on
horses, but to journey on foot, because a robber has once committed a
murder in order that he may steal a horse? Or are we not to possess
clothing, because a vagabond with a sword has taken a traveller's life
that he may rob him of his garment? The possession of gold and silver is
similar. Seeing then that men cannot conveniently do all these things,
we should be on our guard against robbers, and because we cannot always
protect ourselves from their hands, it is the special duty of the
magistrate to seize wicked and villainous men for torture, and, if need
be, for execution.

Again, the products of the mines are not themselves the cause of war.
Thus, for example, when a tyrant, inflamed with passion for a woman of
great beauty, makes war on the inhabitants of her city, the fault lies
in the unbridled lust of the tyrant and not in the beauty of the woman.
Likewise, when another man, blinded by a passion for gold and silver,
makes war upon a wealthy people, we ought not to blame the metals but
transfer all blame to avarice. For frenzied deeds and disgraceful
actions, which are wont to weaken and dishonour natural and civil laws,
originate from our own vices. Wherefore Tibullus is wrong in laying the
blame for war on gold, when he says: "This is the fault of a rich man's
gold; there were no wars when beech goblets were used at banquets." But
Virgil, speaking of Polymnestor, says that the crime of the murderer
rests on avarice:

     "He breaks all law; he murders Polydorus, and obtains gold by
     violence. To what wilt thou not drive mortal hearts, thou
     accursed hunger for gold?"

And again, justly, he says, speaking of Pygmalion, who killed Sichaeus:

     "And blinded with the love of gold, he slew him unawares with
     stealthy sword."[22]

For lust and eagerness after gold and other things make men blind, and
this wicked greed for money, all men in all times and places have
considered dishonourable and criminal. Moreover, those who have been so
addicted to avarice as to be its slaves have always been regarded as
mean and sordid. Similarly, too, if by means of gold and silver and gems
men can overcome the chastity of women, corrupt the honour of many
people, bribe the course of justice and commit innumerable wickednesses,
it is not the metals which are to be blamed, but the evil passions of
men which become inflamed and ignited; or it is due to the blind and
impious desires of their minds. But although these attacks against gold
and silver may be directed especially against money, yet inasmuch as the
Poets one after another condemn it, their criticism must be met, and
this can be done by one argument alone. Money is good for those who use
it well; it brings loss and evil to those who use it ill. Hence, very
rightly, Horace says:

     "Dost thou not know the value of money; and what uses it
     serves? It buys bread, vegetables, and a pint of wine."

And again in another place:

     "Wealth hoarded up is the master or slave of each possessor; it
     should follow rather than lead, the 'twisted rope.'"[23]

When ingenious and clever men considered carefully the system of barter,
which ignorant men of old employed and which even to-day is used by
certain uncivilised and barbarous races, it appeared to them so
troublesome and laborious that they invented money. Indeed, nothing more
useful could have been devised, because a small amount of gold and
silver is of as great value as things cumbrous and heavy; and so peoples
far distant from one another can, by the use of money, trade very easily
in those things which civilised life can scarcely do without.

The curses which are uttered against iron, copper, and lead have no
weight with prudent and sensible men, because if these metals were done
away with, men, as their anger swelled and their fury became unbridled,
would assuredly fight like wild beasts with fists, heels, nails, and
teeth. They would strike each other with sticks, hit one another with
stones, or dash their foes to the ground. Moreover, a man does not kill
another with iron alone, but slays by means of poison, starvation, or
thirst. He may seize him by the throat and strangle him; he may bury him
alive in the ground; he may immerse him in water and suffocate him; he
may burn or hang him; so that he can make every element a participant in
the death of men. Or, finally, a man may be thrown to the wild beasts.
Another may be sewn up wholly except his head in a sack, and thus be
left to be devoured by worms; or he may be immersed in water until he is
torn to pieces by sea-serpents. A man may be boiled in oil; he may be
greased, tied with ropes, and left exposed to be stung by flies and
hornets; he may be put to death by scourging with rods or beating with
cudgels, or struck down by stoning, or flung from a high place.
Furthermore, a man may be tortured in more ways than one without the use
of metals; as when the executioner burns the groins and armpits of his
victim with hot wax; or places a cloth in his mouth gradually, so that
when in breathing he draws it slowly into his gullet, the executioner
draws it back suddenly and violently; or the victim's hands are fastened
behind his back, and he is drawn up little by little with a rope and
then let down suddenly. Or similarly, he may be tied to a beam and a
heavy stone fastened by a cord to his feet, or finally his limbs may be
torn asunder. From these examples we see that it is not metals that are
to be condemned, but our vices, such as anger, cruelty, discord, passion
for power, avarice, and lust.

The question next arises, whether we ought to count metals amongst the
number of good things or class them amongst the bad. The Peripatetics
regarded all wealth as a good thing, and merely spoke of externals as
having to do with neither the mind nor the body. Well, let riches be an
external thing. And, as they said, many other things may be classed as
good if it is in one's power to use them either well or ill. For good
men employ them for good, and to them they are useful. The wicked use
them badly, and to them they are harmful. There is a saying of Socrates,
that just as wine is influenced by the cask, so the character of riches
is like their possessors. The Stoics, whose custom it is to argue subtly
and acutely, though they did not put wealth in the category of good
things, they did not count it amongst the evil ones, but placed it in
that class which they term neutral. For to them virtue alone is good,
and vice alone evil. The whole of what remains is indifferent. Thus, in
their conviction, it matters not whether one be in good health or
seriously ill; whether one be handsome or deformed. In short:

     "Whether, sprung from Inachus of old, and thus hast lived
     beneath the sun in wealth, or hast been poor and despised among
     men, it matters not."

For my part, I see no reason why anything that is in itself of use
should not be placed in the class of good things. At all events, metals
are a creation of Nature, and they supply many varied and necessary
needs of the human race, to say nothing about their uses in adornment,
which are so wonderfully blended with utility. Therefore, it is not
right to degrade them from the place they hold among the good things. In
truth, if there is a bad use made of them, should they on that account
be rightly called evils? For of what good things can we not make an
equally bad or good use? Let me give examples from both classes of what
we term good. Wine, by far the best drink, if drunk in moderation, aids
the digestion of food, helps to produce blood, and promotes the juices
in all parts of the body. It is of use in nourishing not only the body
but the mind as well, for it disperses our dark and gloomy thoughts,
frees us from cares and anxiety, and restores our confidence. If drunk
in excess, however, it injures and prostrates the body with serious
disease. An intoxicated man keeps nothing to himself; he raves and
rants, and commits many wicked and infamous acts. On this subject
Theognis wrote some very clever lines, which we may render thus:

     "Wine is harmful if taken with greedy lips, but if drunk in
     moderation it is wholesome."[25]

But I linger too long over extraneous matters. I must pass on to the
gifts of body and mind, amongst which strength, beauty, and genius occur
to me. If then a man, relying on his strength, toils hard to maintain
himself and his family in an honest and respectable manner, he uses the
gift aright, but if he makes a living out of murder and robbery, he uses
it wrongly. Likewise, too, if a lovely woman is anxious to please her
husband alone she uses her beauty aright, but if she lives wantonly and
is a victim of passion, she misuses her beauty. In like manner, a youth
who devotes himself to learning and cultivates the liberal arts, uses
his genius rightly. But he who dissembles, lies, cheats, and deceives by
fraud and dishonesty, misuses his abilities. Now, the man who, because
they are abused, denies that wine, strength, beauty, or genius are good
things, is unjust and blasphemous towards the Most High God, Creator of
the World; so he who would remove metals from the class of blessings
also acts unjustly and blasphemously against Him. Very true, therefore,
are the words which certain Greek poets have written, as Pindar:

     "Money glistens, adorned with virtue; it supplies the means by
     which thou mayest act well in whatever circumstances fate may
     have in store for thee."[26]

And Sappho:

     "Without the love of virtue gold is a dangerous and harmful
     guest, but when it is associated with virtue, it becomes the
     source and height of good."

And Callimachus:

     "Riches do not make men great without virtue; neither do
     virtues themselves make men great without some wealth."

And Antiphanes:

     "Now, by the gods, why is it necessary for a man to grow rich?
     Why does he desire to possess much money unless that he may, as
     much as possible, help his friends, and sow the seeds of a
     harvest of gratitude, sweetest of the goddesses."[27]

Having thus refuted the arguments and contentions of adversaries, let us
sum up the advantages of the metals. In the first place, they are useful
to the physician, for they furnish liberally the ingredients for
medicines, by which wounds and ulcers are cured, and even plagues; so
that certainly if there were no other reasons why we should explore the
depths of the earth, we should for the sake of medicine alone dig in the
mines. Again, the metals are of use to painters, because they yield
certain pigments which, when united with the painter's slip, are injured
less than others by the moisture from without. Further, mining is useful
to the architects, for thus is found marble, which is suitable not only
for strengthening large buildings, but also for decoration. It is,
moreover, helpful to those whose ambition urges them toward immortal
glory, because it yields metals from which are made coins, statues, and
other monuments, which, next to literary records, give men in a sense
immortality. The metals are useful to merchants with very great cause,
for, as I have stated elsewhere, the use of money which is made from
metals is much more convenient to mankind than the old system of
exchange of commodities. In short, to whom are the metals not of use? In
very truth, even the works of art, elegant, embellished, elaborate,
useful, are fashioned in various shapes by the artist from the metals
gold, silver, brass, lead, and iron. How few artists could make
anything that is beautiful and perfect without using metals? Even if
tools of iron or brass were not used, we could not make tools of wood
and stone without the help of metal. From all these examples are evident
the benefits and advantages derived from metals. We should not have had
these at all unless the science of mining and metallurgy had been
discovered and handed down to us. Who then does not understand how
highly useful they are, nay rather, how necessary to the human race? In
a word, man could not do without the mining industry, nor did Divine
Providence will that he should.

Further, it has been asked whether to work in metals is honourable
employment for respectable people or whether it is not degrading and
dishonourable. We ourselves count it amongst the honourable arts. For
that art, the pursuit of which is unquestionably not impious, nor
offensive, nor mean, we may esteem honourable. That this is the nature
of the mining profession, inasmuch as it promotes wealth by good and
honest methods, we shall show presently. With justice, therefore, we may
class it amongst honourable employments. In the first place, the
occupation of the miner, which I must be allowed to compare with other
methods of acquiring great wealth, is just as noble as that of
agriculture; for, as the farmer, sowing his seed in his fields injures
no one, however profitable they may prove to him, so the miner digging
for his metals, albeit he draws forth great heaps of gold or silver,
hurts thereby no mortal man. Certainly these two modes of increasing
wealth are in the highest degree both noble and honourable. The booty of
the soldier, however, is frequently impious, because in the fury of the
fighting he seizes all goods, sacred as well as profane. The most just
king may have to declare war on cruel tyrants, but in the course of it
wicked men cannot lose their wealth and possessions without dragging
into the same calamity innocent and poor people, old men, matrons,
maidens, and orphans. But the miner is able to accumulate great riches
in a short time, without using any violence, fraud, or malice. That old
saying is, therefore, not always true that "Every rich man is either
wicked himself, or is the heir to wickedness."

Some, however, who contend against us, censure and attack miners by
saying that they and their children must needs fall into penury after a
short time, because they have heaped up riches by improper means.
According to them nothing is truer than the saying of the poet Naevius:

  "Ill gotten gains in ill fashion slip away."

The following are some of the wicked and sinful methods by which they
say men obtain riches from mining. When a prospect of obtaining metals
shows itself in a mine, either the ruler or magistrate drives out the
rightful owners of the mines from possession, or a shrewd and cunning
neighbour perhaps brings a law-suit against the old possessors in order
to rob them of some part of their property. Or the mine superintendent
imposes on the owners such a heavy contribution on shares, that if they
cannot pay, or will not, they lose their rights of possession; while the
superintendent, contrary to all that is right, seizes upon all that they
have lost. Or, finally, the mine foreman may conceal the vein by
plastering over with clay that part where the metal abounds, or by
covering it with earth, stones, stakes, or poles, in the hope that after
several years the proprietors, thinking the mine exhausted, will abandon
it, and the foreman can then excavate that remainder of the ore and keep
it for himself. They even state that the scum of the miners exist wholly
by fraud, deceit, and lying. For to speak of nothing else, but only of
those deceits which are practised in buying and selling, it is said they
either advertise the veins with false and imaginary praises, so that
they can sell the shares in the mines at one-half more than they are
worth, or on the contrary, they sometimes detract from the estimate of
them so that they can buy shares for a small price. By exposing such
frauds our critics suppose all good opinion of miners is lost. Now, all
wealth, whether it has been gained by good or evil means, is liable by
some adverse chance to vanish away. It decays and is dissipated by the
fault and carelessness of the owner, since he loses it through laziness
and neglect, or wastes and squanders it in luxuries, or he consumes and
exhausts it in gifts, or he dissipates and throws it away in gambling:

"Just as though money sprouted up again, renewed from an exhausted
coffer, and was always to be obtained from a full heap."

It is therefore not to be wondered at if miners do not keep in mind the
counsel given by King Agathocles: "Unexpected fortune should be held in
reverence," for by not doing so they fall into penury; and particularly
when the miners are not content with moderate riches, they not rarely
spend on new mines what they have accumulated from others. But no just
ruler or magistrate deprives owners of their possessions; that, however,
may be done by a tyrant, who may cruelly rob his subjects not only of
their goods honestly obtained, but even of life itself. And yet whenever
I have inquired into the complaints which are in common vogue, I always
find that the owners who are abused have the best of reasons for driving
the men from the mines; while those who abuse the owners have no reason
to complain about them. Take the case of those who, not having paid
their contributions, have lost the right of possession, or those who
have been expelled by the magistrate out of another man's mine: for some
wicked men, mining the small veins branching from the veins rich in
metal, are wont to invade the property of another person. So the
magistrate expels these men accused of wrong, and drives them from the
mine. They then very frequently spread unpleasant rumours concerning
this amongst the populace. Or, to take another case: when, as often
happens, a dispute arises between neighbours, arbitrators appointed by
the magistrate settle it, or the regular judges investigate and give
judgment. Consequently, when the judgment is given, inasmuch as each
party has consented to submit to it, neither side should complain of
injustice; and when the controversy is adjudged, inasmuch as the
decision is in accordance with the laws concerning mining, one of the
parties cannot be injured by the law. I do not vigorously contest the
point, that at times a mine superintendent may exact a larger
contribution from the owners than necessity demands. Nay, I will admit
that a foreman may plaster over, or hide with a structure, a vein where
it is rich in metals. Is the wickedness of one or two to brand the many
honest with fraud and trickery? What body is supposed to be more pious
and virtuous in the Republic than the Senate? Yet some Senators have
been detected in peculations, and have been punished. Is this any reason
that so honourable a house should lose its good name and fame? The
superintendent cannot exact contributions from the owners without the
knowledge and permission of the Bergmeister or the deputies; for this
reason deception of this kind is impossible. Should the foremen be
convicted of fraud, they are beaten with rods; or of theft, they are
hanged. It is complained that some sellers and buyers of the shares in
mines are fraudulent. I concede it. But can they deceive anyone except a
stupid, careless man, unskilled in mining matters? Indeed, a wise and
prudent man, skilled in this art, if he doubts the trustworthiness of a
seller or buyer, goes at once to the mine that he may for himself
examine the vein which has been so greatly praised or disparaged, and
may consider whether he will buy or sell the shares or not. But people
say, though such an one can be on his guard against fraud, yet a simple
man and one who is easily credulous, is deceived. But we frequently see
a man who is trying to mislead another in this way deceive himself, and
deservedly become a laughing-stock for everyone; or very often the
defrauder as well as the dupe is entirely ignorant of mining. If, for
instance, a vein has been found to be abundant in ore, contrary to the
idea of the would-be deceiver, then he who was to have been cheated gets
a profit, and he who has been the deceiver loses. Nevertheless, the
miners themselves rarely buy or sell shares, but generally they have
_jurati venditores_[28] who buy and sell at such prices as they have
been instructed to give or accept. Seeing therefore, that magistrates
decide disputes on fair and just principles, that honest men deceive
nobody, while a dishonest one cannot deceive easily, or if he does he
cannot do so with impunity, the criticism of those who wish to disparage
the honesty of miners has therefore no force or weight.

In the next place, the occupation of the miner is objectionable to
nobody. For who, unless he be naturally malevolent and envious, will
hate the man who gains wealth as it were from heaven? Or who will hate a
man who to amplify his fortune, adopts a method which is free from
reproach? A moneylender, if he demands an excessive interest, incurs the
hatred of men. If he demands a moderate and lawful rate, so that he is
not injurious to the public generally and does not impoverish them, he
fails to become very rich from his business. Further, the gain derived
from mining is not sordid, for how can it be such, seeing that it is so
great, so plentiful, and of so innocent a nature. A merchant's profits
are mean and base when he sells counterfeit and spurious merchandise, or
puts far too high a price on goods that he has purchased for little; for
this reason the merchant would be held in no less odium amongst good
men than is the usurer, did they not take account of the risk he runs to
secure his merchandise. In truth, those who on this point speak
abusively of mining for the sake of detracting from its merits, say that
in former days men convicted of crimes and misdeeds were sentenced to
the mines and were worked as slaves. But to-day the miners receive pay,
and are engaged like other workmen in the common trades.

Certainly, if mining is a shameful and discreditable employment for a
gentleman because slaves once worked mines, then agriculture also will
not be a very creditable employment, because slaves once cultivated the
fields, and even to-day do so among the Turks; nor will architecture be
considered honest, because some slaves have been found skilful in that
profession; nor medicine, because not a few doctors have been slaves;
nor will any other worthy craft, because men captured by force of arms
have practised it. Yet agriculture, architecture, and medicine are none
the less counted amongst the number of honourable professions;
therefore, mining ought not for this reason to be excluded from them.
But suppose we grant that the hired miners have a sordid employment. We
do not mean by miners only the diggers and other workmen, but also those
skilled in the mining arts, and those who invest money in mines. Amongst
them can be counted kings, princes, republics, and from these last the
most esteemed citizens. And finally, we include amongst the overseers of
mines the noble Thucydides, the historian, whom the Athenians placed in
charge of the mines of Thasos.[29] And it would not be unseemly for the
owners themselves to work with their own hands on the works or ore,
especially if they themselves have contributed to the cost of the mines.
Just as it is not undignified for great men to cultivate their own land.
Otherwise the Roman Senate would not have created Dictator L. Quintius
Cincinnatus, as he was at work in the fields, nor would it have summoned
to the Senate House the chief men of the State from their country
villas. Similarly, in our day, Maximilian Cæsar would not have enrolled
Conrad in the ranks of the nobles known as Counts; Conrad was really
very poor when he served in the mines of Schneeberg, and for that reason
he was nicknamed the "poor man"; but not many years after, he attained
wealth from the mines of Fürst, which is a city in Lorraine, and took
his name from "Luck."[30] Nor would King Vladislaus have restored to the
Assembly of Barons, Tursius, a citizen of Cracow, who became rich
through the mines in that part of the kingdom of Hungary which was
formerly called Dacia.[31] Nay, not even the common worker in the mines
is vile and abject. For, trained to vigilance and work by night and day,
he has great powers of endurance when occasion demands, and easily
sustains the fatigues and duties of a soldier, for he is accustomed to
keep long vigils at night, to wield iron tools, to dig trenches, to
drive tunnels, to make machines, and to carry burdens. Therefore,
experts in military affairs prefer the miner, not only to a commoner
from the town, but even to the rustic.

But to bring this discussion to an end, inasmuch as the chief callings
are those of the moneylender, the soldier, the merchant, the farmer, and
the miner, I say, inasmuch as usury is odious, while the spoil cruelly
captured from the possessions of the people innocent of wrong is wicked
in the sight of God and man, and inasmuch as the calling of the miner
excels in honour and dignity that of the merchant trading for lucre,
while it is not less noble though far more profitable than agriculture,
who can fail to realize that mining is a calling of peculiar dignity?
Certainly, though it is but one of ten important and excellent methods
of acquiring wealth in an honourable way, a careful and diligent man can
attain this result in no easier way than by mining.



[1] _Fibrae_--"fibres." See Note 6, p. 70.

[2] _Commissurae saxorum_--"rock joints," "seams," or "cracks." Agricola
and all of the old authors laid a wholly unwarranted geologic value on
these phenomena. See description and footnotes, Book III., pages 43 and

[3] _Succi_--"juice," or _succi concreti_--"solidified juice." Ger.
Trans., _saffte_. The old English translators and mineralogists often
use the word juices in the same sense, and we have adopted it. The words
"solutions" and "salts" convey a chemical significance not warranted by
the state of knowledge in Agricola's time. Instances of the former use
of this word may be seen in Barba's "First Book of the Art of Metals,"
(Trans. Earl Sandwich, London, 1674, p. 2, etc.,) and in Pryce's
_Mineralogia Cornubiensis_ (London, 1778, p. 25, 32).

[4] In order that the reader should be able to grasp the author's point
of view as to his divisions of the Mineral Kingdom, we introduce here
his own statement from _De Natura Fossilium_, (p. 180). It is also
desirable to read the footnote on his theory of ore-deposits on pages 43
to 53, and the review of _De Natura Fossilium_ given in the Appendix.

"The subterranean inanimate bodies are divided into two classes, one of
which, because it is a fluid or an exhalation, is called by those names,
and the other class is called the minerals. Mineral bodies are
solidified from particles of the same substance, such as pure gold, each
particle of which is gold, or they are of different substances such as
lumps which consist of earth, stone, and metal; these latter may be
separated into earth, stone and metal, and therefore the first is not a
mixture while the last is called a mixture. The first are again divided
into simple and compound minerals. The simple minerals are of four
classes, namely earths, solidified juices, stones and metals, while the
mineral compounds are of many sorts, as I shall explain later.

"Earth is a simple mineral body which may be kneaded in the hands when
moistened, or from which lute is made when it has been wetted. Earth,
properly so called, is found enclosed in veins or veinlets, or
frequently on the surface in fields and meadows. This definition is a
general one. The harder earth, although moistened by water, does not at
once become lute, but does turn into lute if it remains in water for
some time. There are many species of earths, some of which have names
but others are unnamed.

"Solidified juices are dry and somewhat hard (_subdurus_) mineral bodies
which when moistened with water do not soften but liquefy instead; or if
they do soften, they differ greatly from the earths by their
unctuousness (_pingue_) or by the material of which they consist.
Although occasionally they have the hardness of stone, yet because they
preserve the form and nature which they had when less hard, they can
easily be distinguished from the stones. The juices are divided into
'meagre' and unctuous (_macer et pinguis_). The 'meagre' juices, since
they originate from three different substances, are of three species.
They are formed from a liquid mixed with earth, or with metal, or with a
mineral compound. To the first species belong salt and _Nitrum_ (soda);
to the second, chrysocolla, verdigris, iron-rust, and azure; to the
third, vitriol, alum, and an acrid juice which is unnamed. The first two
of these latter are obtained from pyrites, which is numbered amongst the
compound minerals. The third of these comes from _Cadmia_ (in this case
the cobalt-zinc-arsenic minerals; the acrid juice is probably zinc
sulphate). To the unctuous juices belong these species: sulphur,
bitumen, realgar and orpiment. Vitriol and alum, although they are
somewhat unctuous yet do not burn, and they differ in their origin from
the unctuous juices, for the latter are forced out from the earth by
heat, whereas the former are produced when pyrites is softened by

"Stone is a dry and hard mineral body which may either be softened by
remaining for a long time in water and be reduced to powder by a fierce
fire; or else it does not soften with water but the heat of a great fire
liquefies it. To the first species belong those stones which have been
solidified by heat, to the second those solidified (literally
'congealed') by cold. These two species of stones are constituted from
their own material. However, writers on natural subjects who take into
consideration the quantity and quality of stones and their value, divide
them into four classes. The first of these has no name of its own but is
called in common parlance 'stone': to this class belong loadstone,
jasper (or bloodstone) and _Aetites_ (geodes?). The second class
comprises hard stones, either pellucid or ornamental, with very
beautiful and varied colours which sparkle marvellously; they are called
gems. The third comprises stones which are only brilliant after they
have been polished, and are usually called marble. The fourth are called
rocks; they are found in quarries, from which they are hewn out for use
in building, and they are cut into various shapes. None of the rocks
show colour or take a polish. Few of the stones sparkle; fewer still are
transparent. Marble is sometimes only distinguishable from opaque gems
by its volume; rock is always distinguishable from stones properly
so-called by its volume. Both the stones and the gems are usually to be
found in veins and veinlets which traverse the rocks and marble. These
four classes, as I have already stated, are divided into many species,
which I will explain in their proper place.

"Metal is a mineral body, by nature either liquid or somewhat hard. The
latter may be melted by the heat of the fire, but when it has cooled
down again and lost all heat, it becomes hard again and resumes its
proper form. In this respect it differs from the stone which melts in
the fire, for although the latter regain its hardness, yet it loses its
pristine form and properties. Traditionally there are six different
kinds of metals, namely gold, silver, copper, iron, tin and lead. There
are really others, for quicksilver is a metal, although the Alchemists
disagree with us on this subject, and bismuth is also. The ancient Greek
writers seem to have been ignorant of bismuth, wherefore Ammonius
rightly states that there are many species of metals, animals, and
plants which are unknown to us. _Stibium_ when smelted in the crucible
and refined has as much right to be regarded as a proper metal as is
accorded to lead by writers. If when smelted, a certain portion be added
to tin, a bookseller's alloy is produced from which the type is made
that is used by those who print books on paper. Each metal has its own
form which it preserves when separated from those metals which were
mixed with it. Therefore neither electrum nor _Stannum_ is of itself a
real metal, but rather an alloy of two metals. Electrum is an alloy of
gold and silver, _Stannum_ of lead and silver (see note 33, p. 473). And
yet if silver be parted from the electrum, then gold remains and not
electrum; if silver be taken away from _Stannum_, then lead remains and
not _Stannum_. Whether brass, however, is found as a native metal or
not, cannot be ascertained with any surety. We only know of the
artificial brass, which consists of copper tinted with the colour of the
mineral calamine. And yet if any should be dug up, it would be a proper
metal. Black and white copper seem to be different from the red kind.
Metal, therefore, is by nature either solid, as I have stated, or fluid,
as in the unique case of quicksilver. But enough now concerning the
simple kinds.

"I will now speak of the compounds which are composed of the simple
minerals cemented together by nature, and under the word 'compound' I
now discuss those mineral bodies which consist of two or three simple
minerals. They are likewise mineral substances, but so thoroughly mixed
and alloyed that even in the smallest part there is not wanting any
substance that is contained in the whole. Only by the force of the fire
is it possible to separate one of the simple mineral substances from
another; either the third from the other two, or two from the third, if
there were three in the same compound. These two, three or more bodies
are so completely mixed into one new species that the pristine form of
none of these is recognisable.

"The 'mixed' minerals, which are composed of those same simple minerals,
differ from the 'compounds,' in that the simple minerals each preserves
its own form so that they can be separated one from the other not only
by fire but sometimes by water and sometimes by hand. As these two
classes differ so greatly from one another I usually use two different
words in order to distinguish one from the other. I am well aware that
Galen calls the metallic earth a compound which is really a mixture, but
he who wishes to instruct others should bestow upon each separate thing
a definite name."

For convenience of reference we may reduce the above to a diagram as

  1. Fluids and gases.

                              {              { Earths
                              { (a) Simple   { Solidified juices
                              {     minerals { Stones
                              {              { Metals
             { A. Homogenous  {
             {    bodies      {
             {                { (b) Compound { Being heterogeneous mixtures
             {                {     minerals {       of (a)
  2. Mineral {
     bodies  {
             { B. Mixtures. Being homogenous mixtures of (a)

[5] _Experiendae_--"a trial." That actual assaying in its technical
sense is meant, is sufficiently evident from Book VII.

[6] _... plumbum ... candidum ac cinereum vel nigrum_. "Lead ... white,
or ash-coloured, or black." Agricola himself coined the term _plumbum
cinereum_ for bismuth, no doubt following the Roman term for
tin--_plumbum candidum_. The following passage from _Bermannus_ (p. 439)
is of interest, for it appears to be the first description of bismuth,
although mention of it occurs in the _Nützlich Bergbüchlin_ (see
Appendix B). "_Bermannus_: I will show you another kind of mineral which
is numbered amongst metals, but appears to me to have been unknown to
the Ancients; we call it _bisemutum_. _Naevius_: Then in your opinion
there are more kinds of metals than the seven commonly believed?
_Bermannus_: More, I consider; for this which just now I said we called
_bisemutum_, cannot correctly be called _plumbum candidum_ (tin), nor
_nigrum_ (lead), but is different from both and is a third one. _Plumbum
candidum_ is whiter and _plumbum nigrum_ is darker, as you see.
_Naevius_: We see that this is of the colour of _galena_. _Ancon_: How
then can _bisemutum_, as you call it, be distinguished from _galena_?
_Bermannus_: Easily; when you take it in your hands it stains them with
black, unless it is quite hard. The hard kind is not friable like
_galena_, but can be cut. It is blacker than the kind of _rudis_ silver
which we say is almost the colour of lead, and thus is different from
both. Indeed, it not rarely contains some silver. It generally indicates
that there is silver beneath the place where it is found, and because of
this our miners are accustomed to call it the 'roof of silver.' They are
wont to roast this mineral, and from the better part they make metal;
from the poorer part they make a pigment of a kind not to be despised."

[7] _Nitrum._ The Ancients comprised many salts under this head, but
Agricola in the main uses it for soda, although sometimes he includes
potash. He usually, however, refers to potash as _lixivium_ or salt
therefrom, and by other distinctive terms. For description of method of
manufacture and discussion, see Book XII., p. 558.

[8] _Atramentum sutorium_--"Shoemaker's blacking." See p. 572 for
description of method of manufacture and historical footnote. In the
main Agricola means green vitriol, but he does describe three main
varieties, green, blue, and white (_De Natura Fossilium_, p. 219). The
blue was of course copper sulphate, and it is fairly certain that the
white was zinc vitriol.

[9] _Lavandi_--"Washing." By this term the author includes all the
operations of sluicing, buddling, and wet concentration generally. There
is no English equivalent of such wide application, and there is some
difficulty in interpretation without going further than the author
intends. Book VIII. is devoted to the subject.

[10] _Operam et oleum perdit_--"loss of labour and oil."

[11] In _Veteribus et Novis Metallis_, and _Bermannus_, Agricola states
that the mines of Schemnitz were worked 800 years before that time
(1530), or about 750 A.D., and, further, that the lead mines of Goslar
in the Hartz were worked by Otho the Great (936-973), and that the
silver mines at Freiberg were discovered during the rule of Prince Otho
(about 1170). To continue the argument to-day we could add about 360
years more of life to the mines of Goslar and Freiberg. See also Note
16, p. 36, and note 19, p. 37.

[12] Xenophon. Essay on the Revenues of Athens, I., 5.

[13] Ovid, _Metamorphoses_, I., 137 to 143.

[14] Diogenes Laertius, II., 5. The lines are assigned, however, to
Philemon, not Euripides. (Kock, _Comicorum Atticorum Fragmenta_ II.,

[15] We have not considered it of sufficient interest to cite the
references to all of the minor poets and those whose preserved works are
but fragmentary. The translations from the Greek into Latin are not
literal and suffer again by rendering into English; we have however
considered it our duty to translate Agricola's view of the meaning.

[16] Diogenes Laertius, II.

[17] An inspection of the historical incidents mentioned here and
further on, indicates that Agricola relied for such information on
Diogenes Laertius, Plutarch, Livy, Valerius Maximus, Pliny, and often
enough on Homer, Horace, and Virgil.

[18] Juvenal. _Satires_ I., l. 112, and VI., l. 298.

[19] Pliny, XXXIV., 39.

[20] Horace. _Odes_, I., 35, ll. 17-20.

[21] Horace. _Satires_, II., 3, ll. 99-102.

[22] Virgil. _Æneid_, III., l. 55, and I., l. 349.

[23] Horace. _Satires_, I., l. 73; and Epistle, I., 10, l. 47.

[25] Theognis. Maxims, II., l. 210.

[26] Pindar. _Olymp._ II., 58-60.

[27] Antiphanes, 4.

[28] _Jurati Venditores_--"Sworn brokers." (?)

[29] There is no doubt that Thucydides had some connection with gold
mines; he himself is the authority for the statement that he worked
mines in Thrace. Agricola seems to have obtained his idea that
Thucydides held an appointment from the Athenians in charge of mines in
Thasos, from Marcellinus (_Vita_, Thucydides, 30), who also says that
Thucydides obtained possession of mines in Thrace through his marriage
with a Thracian woman, and that it was while residing on the mines at
Scapte-Hyle that he wrote his history. Later scholars, however, find
little warrant for these assertions. The gold mines of Thasos--an island
off the mainland of Thrace--are frequently mentioned by the ancient
authors. Herodotus, VI., 46-47, says:--"Their (the Thasians') revenue
was derived partly from their possessions upon the mainland, partly from
the mines which they owned. They were masters of the gold mines of
Scapte-Hyle, the yearly produce of which amounted to eighty talents.
Their mines in Thasos yielded less, but still were so prolific that
besides being entirely free from land-tax they had a surplus of income
derived from the two sources of their territory on the mainland and
their mines, in common years two hundred and in best years three hundred
talents. I myself have seen the mines in question. By far the most
curious of them are those which the Phoenicians discovered at the time
when they went with Thasos and colonized the island, which took its name
from him. These Phoenician workings are in Thasos itself, between
Coenyra and a place called Aenyra over against Samothrace; a high
mountain has been turned upside down in the search for ores."
(Rawlinson's Trans.). The occasion of this statement of Herodotus was
the relations of the Thasians with Darius (521-486 B.C.). The date of
the Phoenician colonization of Thasos is highly nebular--anywhere from
1200 to 900 B.C.

[30] Agricola, _De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_, Book I., p. 392,
says:--"Conrad, whose nickname in former years was 'pauper,' suddenly
became rich from the silver mines of Mount Jura, known as the
_Firstum_." He was ennobled with the title of Graf Cuntz von Glück by
the Emperor Maximilian (who was Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire,
1493-1519). Conrad was originally a working miner at Schneeberg where he
was known as Armer Cuntz (poor Cuntz or Conrad) and grew wealthy from
the mines of Fürst in Leberthal. This district is located in the Vosges
Mountains on the borders of Lorraine and Upper Alsace. The story of
Cuntz or Conrad von Glück is mentioned by Albinus (_Meissnische Land und
Berg Chronica_, Dresden, 1589, p. 116), Mathesius (_Sarepta_, Nuremberg,
1578, fol. XVI.), and by others.

[31] Vladislaus III. was King of Poland, 1434-44, and also became King
of Hungary in 1440. Tursius seems to be a Latinized name and cannot be


Qualities which the perfect miner should possess and the arguments which
are urged for and against the arts of mining and metallurgy, as well as
the people occupied in the industry, I have sufficiently discussed in
the first Book. Now I have determined to give more ample information
concerning the miners.

In the first place, it is indispensable that they should worship God
with reverence, and that they understand the matters of which I am going
to speak, and that they take good care that each individual performs his
duties efficiently and diligently. It is decreed by Divine Providence
that those who know what they ought to do and then take care to do it
properly, for the most part meet with good fortune in all they
undertake; on the other hand, misfortune overtakes the indolent and
those who are careless in their work. No person indeed can, without
great and sustained effort and labour, store in his mind the knowledge
of every portion of the metallic arts which are involved in operating
mines. If a man has the means of paying the necessary expense, he hires
as many men as he needs, and sends them to the various works. Thus
formerly Sosias, the Thracian, sent into the silver mines a thousand
slaves whom he had hired from the Athenian Nicias, the son of
Niceratus[1]. But if a man cannot afford the expenditure he chooses of
the various kinds of mining that work which he himself can most easily
and efficiently do. Of these kinds, the two most important are the
making prospect trenches and the washing of the sands of rivers, for out
of these sands are often collected gold dust, or certain black stones
from which tin is smelted, or even gems are sometimes found in them; the
trenching occasionally lays bare at the grass-roots veins which are
found rich in metals. If therefore by skill or by luck, such sands or
veins shall fall into his hands, he will be able to establish his
fortune without expenditure, and from poverty rise to wealth. If on the
contrary, his hopes are not realized, then he can desist from washing or

When anyone, in an endeavour to increase his fortune, meets the
expenditure of a mine alone, it is of great importance that he should
attend to his works and personally superintend everything that he has
ordered to be done. For this reason, he should either have his dwelling
at the mine, where he may always be in sight of the workmen and always
take care that none neglect their duties, or else he should live in the
neighbourhood, so that he may frequently inspect his mining works. Then
he may send word by a messenger to the workmen that he is coming more
frequently than he really intends to come, and so either by his arrival
or by the intimation of it, he so frightens the workmen that none of
them perform their duties otherwise than diligently. When he inspects
the mines he should praise the diligent workmen and occasionally give
them rewards, that they and the others may become more zealous in their
duties; on the other hand, he should rebuke the idle and discharge some
of them from the mines and substitute industrious men in their places.
Indeed, the owner should frequently remain for days and nights in the
mine, which, in truth, is no habitation for the idle and luxurious; it
is important that the owner who is diligent in increasing his wealth,
should frequently himself descend into the mine, and devote some time to
the study of the nature of the veins and stringers, and should observe
and consider all the methods of working, both inside and outside the
mine. Nor is this all he ought to do, for sometimes he should undertake
actual labour, not thereby demeaning himself, but in order to encourage
his workmen by his own diligence, and to teach them their art; for that
mine is well conducted in which not only the foreman, but also the owner
himself, gives instruction as to what ought to be done. A certain
barbarian, according to Xenophon, rightly remarked to the King of Persia
that "the eye of the master feeds the horse,"[2] for the master's
watchfulness in all things is of the utmost importance.

When several share together the expenditure on a mine, it is convenient
and useful to elect from amongst their own number a mine captain, and
also a foreman. For, since men often look after their own interests but
neglect those of others, they cannot in this case take care of their own
without at the same time looking after the interests of the others,
neither can they neglect the interests of the others without neglecting
their own. But if no man amongst them be willing or able to undertake
and sustain the burdens of these offices, it will be to the common
interest to place them in the hands of most diligent men. Formerly
indeed, these things were looked after by the mining prefect[3], because
the owners were kings, as Priam, who owned the gold mines round Abydos,
or as Midas, who was the owner of those situated in Mount Bermius, or as
Gyges, or as Alyattes, or as Croesus, who was the owner of those mines
near a deserted town between Atarnea and Pergamum[4]; sometimes the
mines belonged to a Republic, as, for instance, the prosperous silver
mines in Spain which belonged to Carthage[5]; sometimes they were the
property of great and illustrious families, as were the Athenian mines
in Mount Laurion[6].

When a man owns mines but is ignorant of the art of mining, then it is
advisable that he should share in common with others the expenses, not
of one only, but of several mines. When one man alone meets the expense
for a long time of a whole mine, if good fortune bestows on him a vein
abundant in metals, or in other products, he becomes very wealthy; if,
on the contrary, the mine is poor and barren, in time he will lose
everything which he has expended on it. But the man who, in common with
others, has laid out his money on several mines in a region renowned for
its wealth of metals, rarely spends it in vain, for fortune usually
responds to his hopes in part. For when out of twelve veins in which he
has a joint interest one yields an abundance of metals, it not only
gives back to the owner the money he has spent, but also gives a profit
besides; certainly there will be for him rich and profitable mining, if
of the whole number, three, or four, or more veins should yield metal.
Very similar to this is the advice which Xenophon gave to the Athenians
when they wished to prospect for new veins of silver without suffering
loss. "There are," he said, "ten tribes of Athenians; if, therefore, the
State assigned an equal number of slaves to each tribe, and the tribes
participated equally in all the new veins, undoubtedly by this method,
if a rich vein of silver were found by one tribe, whatever profit were
made from it would assuredly be shared by the whole number. And if two,
three, or four tribes, or even half the whole number find veins, their
works would then become more profitable; and it is not probable that the
work of all the tribes will be disappointing."[7] Although this advice
of Xenophon is full of prudence, there is no opportunity for it except
in free and wealthy States; for those people who are under the authority
of kings and princes, or are kept in subjection by tyranny, do not dare,
without permission, to incur such expenditure; those who are endowed
with little wealth and resources cannot do so on account of insufficient
funds. Moreover, amongst our race it is not customary for Republics to
have slaves whom they can hire out for the benefit of the people[8];
but, instead, nowadays those who are in authority administer the funds
for mining in the name of the State, not unlike private individuals.

Some owners prefer to buy shares[9] in mines abounding in metals,
rather than to be troubled themselves to search for the veins; these men
employ an easier and less uncertain method of increasing their property.
Although their hopes in the shares of one or another mine may be
frustrated, the buyers of shares should not abandon the rest of the
mines, for all the money expended will be recovered with interest from
some other mine. They should not buy only high priced shares in those
mines producing metals, nor should they buy too many in neighbouring
mines where metal has not yet been found, lest, should fortune not
respond, they may be exhausted by their losses and have nothing with
which they may meet their expenses or buy other shares which may replace
their losses. This calamity overtakes those who wish to grow suddenly
rich from mines, and instead, they become very much poorer than before.
So then, in the buying of shares, as in other matters, there should be a
certain limit of expenditure which miners should set themselves, lest
blinded by the desire for excessive wealth, they throw all their money
away. Moreover, a prudent owner, before he buys shares, ought to go to
the mine and carefully examine the nature of the vein, for it is very
important that he should be on his guard lest fraudulent sellers of
shares should deceive him. Investors in shares may perhaps become less
wealthy, but they are more certain of some gain than those who mine for
metals at their own expense, as they are more cautious in trusting to
fortune. Neither ought miners to be altogether distrustful of fortune,
as we see some are, who as soon as the shares of any mine begin to go up
in value, sell them, on which account they seldom obtain even moderate
wealth. There are some people who wash over the dumps from exhausted and
abandoned mines, and those dumps which are derived from the drains of
tunnels; and others who smelt the old slags; from all of which they make
an ample return.

Now a miner, before he begins to mine the veins, must consider seven
things, namely:--the situation, the conditions, the water, the roads,
the climate, the right of ownership, and the neighbours. There are four
kinds of situations--mountain, hill, valley, and plain. Of these four,
the first two are the most easily mined, because in them tunnels can be
driven to drain off the water, which often makes mining operations very
laborious, if it does not stop them altogether. The last two kinds of
ground are more troublesome, especially because tunnels cannot be driven
in such places. Nevertheless, a prudent miner considers all these four
sorts of localities in the region in which he happens to be, and he
searches for veins in those places where some torrent or other agency
has removed and swept the soil away; yet he need not prospect
everywhere, but since there is a great variety, both in mountains and in
the three other kinds of localities, he always selects from them those
which will give him the best chance of obtaining wealth.

In the first place, mountains differ greatly in position, some being
situated in even and level plains, while others are found in broken and
elevated regions, and others again seem to be piled up, one mountain
upon another. The wise miner does not mine in mountains which are
situated on open plains, neither does he dig in those which are placed
on the summits of mountainous regions, unless by some chance the veins
in those mountains have been denuded of their surface covering, and
abounding in metals and other products, are exposed plainly to his
notice,--for with regard to what I have already said more than once, and
though I never repeat it again, I wish to emphasize this exception as to
the localities which should not be selected. All districts do not
possess a great number of mountains crowded together; some have but one,
others two, others three, or perhaps a few more. In some places there
are plains lying between them; in others the mountains are joined
together or separated only by narrow valleys. The miner should not dig
in those solitary mountains, dispersed through the plains and open
regions, but only in those which are connected and joined with others.
Then again, since mountains differ in size, some being very large,
others of medium height, and others more like hills than mountains, the
miner rarely digs in the largest or the smallest of them, but generally
only in those of medium size. Moreover, mountains have a great variety
of shapes; for with some the slopes rise gradually, while others, on the
contrary, are all precipitous; in some others the slopes are gradual on
one side, and on the other sides precipitous; some are drawn out in
length; some are gently curved; others assume different shapes. But the
miner may dig in all parts of them, except where there are precipices,
and he should not neglect even these latter if metallic veins are
exposed before his eyes. There are just as great differences in hills as
there are in mountains, yet the miner does not dig except in those
situated in mountainous districts, and even very rarely in those. It is
however very little to be wondered at that the hill in the Island of
Lemnos was excavated, for the whole is of a reddish-yellow colour, which
furnishes for the inhabitants that valuable clay so especially
beneficial to mankind[10]. In like manner, other hills are excavated if
chalk or other varieties of earth are exposed, but these are not
prospected for.

There are likewise many varieties of valleys and plains. One kind is
enclosed on the sides with its outlet and entrance open; another has
either its entrance or its outlet open and the rest of it is closed in;
both of these are properly called valleys. There is a third variety
which is surrounded on all sides by mountains, and these are called
_convalles_. Some valleys again, have recesses, and others have none;
one is wide, another narrow; one is long, another short; yet another
kind is not higher than the neighbouring plain, and others are lower
than the surrounding flat country. But the miner does not dig in those
surrounded on all sides by mountains, nor in those that are open, unless
there be a low plain close at hand, or unless a vein of metal descending
from the mountains should extend into the valley. Plains differ from one
another, one being situated at low elevation, and others higher, one
being level and another with a slight incline. The miner should never
excavate the low-lying plain, nor one which is perfectly level, unless
it be in some mountain, and rarely should he mine in the other kinds of

With regard to the conditions of the locality the miner should not
contemplate mining without considering whether the place be covered with
trees or is bare. If it be a wooded place, he who digs there has this
advantage, besides others, that there will be an abundant supply of wood
for his underground timbering, his machinery, buildings, smelting, and
other necessities. If there is no forest he should not mine there unless
there is a river near, by which he can carry down the timber. Yet
wherever there is a hope that pure gold or gems may be found, the ground
can be turned up, even though there is no forest, because the gems need
only to be polished and the gold to be purified. Therefore the
inhabitants of hot regions obtain these substances from rough and sandy
places, where sometimes there are not even shrubs, much less woods.

The miner should next consider the locality, as to whether it has a
perpetual supply of running water, or whether it is always devoid of
water except when a torrent supplied by rains flows down from the
summits of the mountains. The place that Nature has provided with a
river or stream can be made serviceable for many things; for water will
never be wanting and can be carried through wooden pipes to baths in
dwelling-houses; it may be carried to the works, where the metals are
smelted; and finally, if the conditions of the place will allow it, the
water can be diverted into the tunnels, so that it may turn the
underground machinery. Yet on the other hand, to convey a constant
supply of water by artificial means to mines where Nature has denied it
access, or to convey the ore to the stream, increases the expense
greatly, in proportion to the distance the mines are away from the

The miner also should consider whether the roads from the neighbouring
regions to the mines are good or bad, short or long. For since a region
which is abundant in mining products very often yields no agricultural
produce, and the necessaries of life for the workmen and others must all
be imported, a bad and long road occasions much loss and trouble with
porters and carriers, and this increases the cost of goods brought in,
which, therefore, must be sold at high prices. This injures not so much
the workmen as the masters; since on account of the high price of goods,
the workmen are not content with the wages customary for their labour,
nor can they be, and they ask higher pay from the owners. And if the
owners refuse, the men will not work any longer in the mines but will go
elsewhere. Although districts which yield metals and other mineral
products are generally healthy, because, being often situated on high
and lofty ground, they are fanned by every wind, yet sometimes they are
unhealthy, as has been related in my other book, which is called "_De
Natura Eorum Quae Effluunt ex Terra_." Therefore, a wise miner does not
mine in such places, even if they are very productive, when he perceives
unmistakable signs of pestilence. For if a man mines in an unhealthy
region he may be alive one hour and dead the next.

Then, the miner should make careful and thorough investigation
concerning the lord of the locality, whether he be a just and good man
or a tyrant, for the latter oppresses men by force of his authority, and
seizes their possessions for himself; but the former governs justly and
lawfully and serves the common good. The miner should not start mining
operations in a district which is oppressed by a tyrant, but should
carefully consider if in the vicinity there is any other locality
suitable for mining and make up his mind if the overlord there be
friendly or inimical. If he be inimical the mine will be rendered unsafe
through hostile attacks, in one of which all of the gold or silver, or
other mineral products, laboriously collected with much cost, will be
taken away from the owner and his workmen will be struck with terror;
overcome by fear, they will hastily fly, to free themselves from the
danger to which they are exposed. In this case, not only are the
fortunes of the miner in the greatest peril but his very life is in
jeopardy, for which reason he should not mine in such places.

Since several miners usually come to mine the veins in one locality, a
settlement generally springs up, for the miner who began first cannot
keep it exclusively for himself. The _Bergmeister_ gives permits to some
to mine the superior and some the inferior parts of the veins; to some
he gives the cross veins, to others the inclined veins. If the man who
first starts work finds the vein to be metal-bearing or yielding other
mining products, it will not be to his advantage to cease work because
the neighbourhood may be evil, but he will guard and defend his rights
both by arms and by the law. When the _Bergmeister_[11] delimits the
boundaries of each owner, it is the duty of a good miner to keep within
his bounds, and of a prudent one to repel encroachments of his
neighbours by the help of the law. But this is enough about the

The miner should try to obtain a mine, to which access is not difficult,
in a mountainous region, gently sloping, wooded, healthy, safe, and not
far distant from a river or stream by means of which he may convey his
mining products to be washed and smelted. This indeed, is the best
position. As for the others, the nearer they approximate to this
position the better they are; the further removed, the worse.

Now I will discuss that kind of minerals for which it is not necessary
to dig, because the force of water carries them out of the veins. Of
these there are two kinds, minerals--and their fragments[12]--and
juices. When there are springs at the outcrop of the veins from which,
as I have already said, the above-mentioned products are emitted, the
miner should consider these first, to see whether there are metals or
gems mixed with the sand, or whether the waters discharged are filled
with juices. In case metals or gems have settled in the pool of the
spring, not only should the sand from it be washed, but also that from
the streams which flow from these springs, and even from the river
itself into which they again discharge. If the springs discharge water
containing some juice, this also should be collected; the further such a
stream has flowed from the source, the more it receives plain water and
the more diluted does it become, and so much the more deficient in
strength. If the stream receives no water of another kind, or scarcely
any, not only the rivers, but likewise the lakes which receive these
waters, are of the same nature as the springs, and serve the same uses;
of this kind is the lake which the Hebrews call the Dead Sea, and which
is quite full of bituminous fluids[13]. But I must return to the subject
of the sands.

Springs may discharge their waters into a sea, a lake, a marsh, a river,
or a stream; but the sand of the sea-shore is rarely washed, for
although the water flowing down from the springs into the sea carries
some metals or gems with it, yet these substances can scarcely ever be
reclaimed, because they are dispersed through the immense body of waters
and mixed up with other sand, and scattered far and wide in different
directions, or they sink down into the depths of the sea. For the same
reasons, the sands of lakes can very rarely be washed successfully, even
though the streams rising from the mountains pour their whole volume of
water into them. The particles of metals and gems from the springs are
very rarely carried into the marshes, which are generally in level and
open places. Therefore, the miner, in the first place, washes the sand
of the spring, then of the stream which flows from it, then finally,
that of the river into which the stream discharges. It is not worth the
trouble to wash the sands of a large river which is on a level plain at
a distance from the mountains. Where several springs carrying metals
discharge their waters into one river, there is more hope of productive
results from washing. The miner does not neglect even the sands of the
streams in which excavated ores have been washed.

The waters of springs taste according to the juice they contain, and
they differ greatly in this respect. There are six kinds of these tastes
which the worker[14] especially observes and examines; there is the
salty kind, which shows that salt may be obtained by evaporation; the
nitrous, which indicates soda; the aluminous kind, which indicates alum;
the vitrioline, which indicates vitriol; the sulphurous kind, which
indicates sulphur; and as for the bituminous juice, out of which bitumen
is melted down, the colour itself proclaims it to the worker who is
evaporating it. The sea-water however, is similar to that of salt
springs, and may be drawn into low-lying pits, and, evaporated by the
heat of the sun, changes of itself into salt; similarly the water of
some salt-lakes turns to salt when dried by the heat of summer.
Therefore an industrious and diligent man observes and makes use of
these things and thus contributes something to the common welfare.

The strength of the sea condenses the liquid bitumen which flows into it
from hidden springs, into amber and jet, as I have described already in
my books "_De Subterraneorum Ortu et Causis_"[15]. The sea, with certain
directions of the wind, throws both these substances on shore, and for
this reason the search for amber demands as much care as does that for

Moreover, it is necessary that those who wash the sand or evaporate the
water from the springs, should be careful to learn the nature of the
locality, its roads, its salubrity, its overlord, and the neighbours,
lest on account of difficulties in the conduct of their business they
become either impoverished by exhaustive expenditure, or their goods and
lives are imperilled. But enough about this.

The miner, after he has selected out of many places one particular spot
adapted by Nature for mining, bestows much labour and attention on the
veins. These have either been stripped bare of their covering by chance
and thus lie exposed to our view, or lying deeply hidden and concealed
they are found after close search; the latter is more usual, the former
more rarely happens, and both of these occurrences must be explained.
There is more than one force which can lay bare the veins unaided by the
industry or toil of man; since either a torrent might strip off the
surface, which happened in the case of the silver mines of Freiberg
(concerning which I have written in Book I. of my work "_De Veteribus
et Novis Metallis_")[16]; or they may be exposed through the force of
the wind, when it uproots and destroys the trees which have grown over
the veins; or by the breaking away of the rocks; or by long-continued
heavy rains tearing away the mountain; or by an earthquake; or by a
lightning flash; or by a snowslide; or by the violence of the winds: "Of
such a nature are the rocks hurled down from the mountains by the force
of the winds aided by the ravages of time." Or the plough may uncover
the veins, for Justin relates in his history that nuggets of gold had
been turned up in Galicia by the plough; or this may occur through a
fire in the forest, as Diodorus Siculus tells us happened in the silver
mines in Spain; and that saying of Posidonius is appropriate enough:
"The earth violently moved by the fires consuming the forest sends forth
new products, namely, gold and silver."[17] And indeed, Lucretius has
explained the same thing more fully in the following lines: "Copper and
gold and iron were discovered, and at the same time weighty silver and
the substance of lead, when fire had burned up vast forests on the great
hills, either by a discharge of heaven's lightning, or else because,
when men were waging war with one another, forest fires had carried fire
among the enemy in order to strike terror to them, or because, attracted
by the goodness of the soil, they wished to clear rich fields and bring
the country into pasture, or else to destroy wild beasts and enrich
themselves with the game; for hunting with pitfalls and with fire came
into use before the practice of enclosing the wood with toils and
rousing the game with dogs. Whatever the fact is, from whatever cause
the heat of flame had swallowed up the forests with a frightful
crackling from their very roots, and had thoroughly baked the earth with
fire, there would run from the boiling veins and collect into the
hollows of the grounds a stream of silver and gold, as well as of copper
and lead."[18] But yet the poet considers that the veins are not laid
bare in the first instance so much by this kind of fire, but rather that
all mining had its origin in this. And lastly, some other force may by
chance disclose the veins, for a horse, if this tale can be believed,
disclosed the lead veins at Goslar by a blow from his hoof[19]. By such
methods as these does fortune disclose the veins to us.

But by skill we can also investigate hidden and concealed veins, by
observing in the first place the bubbling waters of springs, which
cannot be very far distant from the veins because the source of the
water is from them; secondly, by examining the fragments of the veins
which the torrents break off from the earth, for after a long time some
of these fragments are again buried in the ground. Fragments of this
kind lying about on the ground, if they are rubbed smooth, are a long
distance from the veins, because the torrent, which broke them from the
vein, polished them while it rolled them a long distance; but if they
are fixed in the ground, or if they are rough, they are nearer to the
veins. The soil also should be considered, for this is often the cause
of veins being buried more or less deeply under the earth; in this case
the fragments protrude more or less widely apart, and miners are wont to
call the veins discovered in this manner "_fragmenta_."[20]

Further, we search for the veins by observing the hoar-frosts, which
whiten all herbage except that growing over the veins, because the veins
emit a warm and dry exhalation which hinders the freezing of the
moisture, for which reason such plants appear rather wet than whitened
by the frost. This may be observed in all cold places before the grass
has grown to its full size, as in the months of April and May; or when
the late crop of hay, which is called the _cordum_, is cut with scythes
in the month of September. Therefore in places where the grass has a
dampness that is not congealed into frost, there is a vein beneath; also
if the exhalation be excessively hot, the soil will produce only small
and pale-coloured plants. Lastly, there are trees whose foliage in
spring-time has a bluish or leaden tint, the upper branches more
especially being tinged with black or with any other unnatural colour,
the trunks cleft in two, and the branches black or discoloured. These
phenomena are caused by the intensely hot and dry exhalations which do
not spare even the roots, but scorching them, render the trees sickly;
wherefore the wind will more frequently uproot trees of this kind than
any others. Verily the veins do emit this exhalation. Therefore, in a
place where there is a multitude of trees, if a long row of them at an
unusual time lose their verdure and become black or discoloured, and
frequently fall by the violence of the wind, beneath this spot there is
a vein. Likewise along a course where a vein extends, there grows a
certain herb or fungus which is absent from the adjacent space, or
sometimes even from the neighbourhood of the veins. By these signs of
Nature a vein can be discovered.

There are many great contentions between miners concerning the forked
twig[21], for some say that it is of the greatest use in discovering
veins, and others deny it. Some of those who manipulate and use the
twig, first cut a fork from a hazel bush with a knife, for this bush
they consider more efficacious than any other for revealing the veins,
especially if the hazel bush grows above a vein. Others use a different
kind of twig for each metal, when they are seeking to discover the
veins, for they employ hazel twigs for veins of silver; ash twigs for
copper; pitch pine for lead and especially tin, and rods made of iron
and steel for gold. All alike grasp the forks of the twig with their
hands, clenching their fists, it being necessary that the clenched
fingers should be held toward the sky in order that the twig should be
raised at that end where the two branches meet. Then they wander hither
and thither at random through mountainous regions. It is said that the
moment they place their feet on a vein the twig immediately turns and
twists, and so by its action discloses the vein; when they move their
feet again and go away from that spot the twig becomes once more

The truth is, they assert, the movement of the twig is caused by the
power of the veins, and sometimes this is so great that the branches of
trees growing near a vein are deflected toward it. On the other hand,
those who say that the twig is of no use to good and serious men, also
deny that the motion is due to the power of the veins, because the twigs
will not move for everybody, but only for those who employ incantations
and craft. Moreover, they deny the power of a vein to draw to itself the
branches of trees, but they say that the warm and dry exhalations cause
these contortions. Those who advocate the use of the twig make this
reply to these objections: when one of the miners or some other person
holds the twig in his hands, and it is not turned by the force of a
vein, this is due to some peculiarity of the individual, which hinders
and impedes the power of the vein, for since the power of the vein in
turning and twisting the twig may be not unlike that of a magnet
attracting and drawing iron toward itself, this hidden quality of a man
weakens and breaks the force, just the same as garlic weakens and
overcomes the strength of a magnet. For a magnet smeared with garlic
juice cannot attract iron; nor does it attract the latter when rusty.
Further, concerning the handling of the twig, they warn us that we
should not press the fingers together too lightly, nor clench them too
firmly, for if the twig is held lightly they say that it will fall
before the force of the vein can turn it; if however, it is grasped too
firmly the force of the hands resists the force of the veins and
counteracts it. Therefore, they consider that five things are necessary
to insure that the twig shall serve its purpose: of these the first is
the size of the twig, for the force of the veins cannot turn too large a
stick; secondly, there is the shape of the twig, which must be forked or
the vein cannot turn it; thirdly, the power of the vein which has the
nature to turn it; fourthly, the manipulation of the twig; fifthly, the
absence of impeding peculiarities. These advocates of the twig sum up
their conclusions as follows: if the rod does not move for everybody, it
is due to unskilled manipulation or to the impeding peculiarities of the
man which oppose and resist the force of the veins, as we said above,
and those who search for veins by means of the twig need not necessarily
make incantations, but it is sufficient that they handle it suitably and
are devoid of impeding power; therefore, the twig may be of use to good
and serious men in discovering veins. With regard to deflection of
branches of trees they say nothing and adhere to their opinion.

[Illustration 40 (Divining Rod): A--Twig. B--Trench.]

Since this matter remains in dispute and causes much dissention amongst
miners, I consider it ought to be examined on its own merits. The
wizards, who also make use of rings, mirrors and crystals, seek for
veins with a divining rod shaped like a fork; but its shape makes no
difference in the matter,--it might be straight or of some other
form--for it is not the form of the twig that matters, but the wizard's
incantations which it would not become me to repeat, neither do I wish
to do so. The Ancients, by means of the divining rod, not only procured
those things necessary for a livelihood or for luxury, but they were
also able to alter the forms of things by it; as when the magicians
changed the rods of the Egyptians into serpents, as the writings of the
Hebrews relate[22]; and as in Homer, Minerva with a divining rod turned
the aged Ulysses suddenly into a youth, and then restored him back again
to old age; Circe also changed Ulysses' companions into beasts, but
afterward gave them back again their human form[23]; moreover by his
rod, which was called "Caduceus," Mercury gave sleep to watchmen and
awoke slumberers[24]. Therefore it seems that the divining rod passed to
the mines from its impure origin with the magicians. Then when good men
shrank with horror from the incantations and rejected them, the twig was
retained by the unsophisticated common miners, and in searching for new
veins some traces of these ancient usages remain.

But since truly the twigs of the miners do move, albeit they do not
generally use incantations, some say this movement is caused by the
power of the veins, others say that it depends on the manipulation, and
still others think that the movement is due to both these causes. But,
in truth, all those objects which are endowed with the power of
attraction do not twist things in circles, but attract them directly to
themselves; for instance, the magnet does not turn the iron, but draws
it directly to itself, and amber rubbed until it is warm does not bend
straws about, but simply draws them to itself. If the power of the veins
were of a similar nature to that of the magnet and the amber, the twig
would not so much twist as move once only, in a semi-circle, and be
drawn directly to the vein, and unless the strength of the man who holds
the twig were to resist and oppose the force of the vein, the twig would
be brought to the ground; wherefore, since this is not the case, it must
necessarily follow that the manipulation is the cause of the twig's
twisting motion. It is a conspicuous fact that these cunning
manipulators do not use a straight twig, but a forked one cut from a
hazel bush, or from some other wood equally flexible, so that if it be
held in the hands, as they are accustomed to hold it, it turns in a
circle for any man wherever he stands. Nor is it strange that the twig
does not turn when held by the inexperienced, because they either grasp
the forks of the twig too tightly or hold them too loosely.
Nevertheless, these things give rise to the faith among common miners
that veins are discovered by the use of twigs, because whilst using
these they do accidentally discover some; but it more often happens that
they lose their labour, and although they might discover a vein, they
become none the less exhausted in digging useless trenches than do the
miners who prospect in an unfortunate locality. Therefore a miner, since
we think he ought to be a good and serious man, should not make use of
an enchanted twig, because if he is prudent and skilled in the natural
signs, he understands that a forked stick is of no use to him, for as I
have said before, there are the natural indications of the veins which
he can see for himself without the help of twigs. So if Nature or chance
should indicate a locality suitable for mining, the miner should dig his
trenches there; if no vein appears he must dig numerous trenches until
he discovers an outcrop of a vein.

A _vena dilatata_ is rarely discovered by men's labour, but usually some
force or other reveals it, or sometimes it is discovered by a shaft or a
tunnel on a _vena profunda_[25].

The veins after they have been discovered, and likewise the shafts and
tunnels, have names given them, either from their discoverers, as in the
case at Annaberg of the vein called "Kölergang," because a charcoal
burner discovered it; or from their owners, as the Geyer, in
Joachimsthal, because part of the same belonged to Geyer; or from their
products, as the "Pleygang" from lead, or the "Bissmutisch" at
Schneeberg from bismuth[26]; or from some other circumstances, such as
the rich alluvials from the torrent by which they were laid bare in the
valley of Joachim. More often the first discoverers give the names
either of persons, as those of German Kaiser, Apollo, Janus; or the name
of an animal, as that of lion, bear, ram, or cow; or of things
inanimate, as "silver chest" or "ox stalls"; or of something ridiculous,
as "glutton's nightshade"; or finally, for the sake of a good omen, they
call it after the Deity. In ancient times they followed the same custom
and gave names to the veins, shafts and tunnels, as we read in Pliny:
"It is wonderful that the shafts begun by Hannibal in Spain are still
worked, their names being derived from their discoverers. One of these
at the present day, called Baebelo, furnished Hannibal with three
hundred pounds weight (of silver) per day."[27]



[1] Xenophon. Essay on the Revenues of Athens, IV., 14.

"But we cannot but feel surprised that the State, when it sees many
private individuals enriching themselves from its resources, does not
imitate their proceedings; for we heard long ago, indeed, at least such
of us as attended to these matters, that Nicias the son of Niceratus
kept a thousand men employed in the silver mines, whom he let on hire to
Sosias of Thrace on condition that he should give him for each an obolus
a day, free of all charges; and this number he always supplied
undiminished." (See also Note 6). An obolus a day each, would be about
23 oz. Troy of silver per day for the whole number. In modern value this
would, of course, be but about 50s. per day, but in purchasing power the
value would probably be 100 to 1 (see Note on p. 28). Nicias was
estimated to have a fortune of 100 talents--about 83,700 Troy ounces of
silver, and was one of the wealthiest of the Athenians. (Plutarch, Life
of Nicias).

[2] Xenophon. _Oeconomicus_ XII., 20. "'I approve,' said Ischomachus,
'of the barbarian's answer to the King who found a good horse, and,
wishing to fatten it as soon as possible, asked a man with a good
reputation for horsemanship what would do it?' The man's reply was: 'Its
master's eye.'"

[3] _Praefectus Metallorum._ In Saxony this official was styled the
_Berghauptmann_. For further information see page 94 and note on page

[4] This statement is either based upon Apollodorus, whom Agricola does
not mention among his authorities, or on Strabo, whom he does so
include. The former in his work on Mythology makes such a statement, for
which Strabo (XIV., 5, 28) takes him to task as follows: "With this vain
intention they collected the stories related by the Scepsian
(Demetrius), and taken from Callisthenes and other writers, who did not
clear them from false notions respecting the Halizones; for example,
that the wealth of Tantalus and of the Pelopidae was derived, it is
said, from the mines about Phrygia and Sipylus; that of Cadmus from the
mines of Thrace and Mount Pangaeum; that of Priam from the gold mines of
Astyra, near Abydos (of which at present there are small remains, yet
there is a large quantity of matter ejected, and the excavations are
proofs of former workings); that of Midas from the mines about Mount
Bermium; that of Gyges, Alyattes, and Croesus, from the mines in Lydia
and the small deserted city between Atarneus and Pergamum, where are the
sites of exhausted mines." (Hamilton's Trans., Vol. III., p. 66).

In adopting this view, Agricola apparently applied a wonderful realism
to some Greek mythology--for instance, in the legend of Midas, which
tells of that king being rewarded by the god Dionysus, who granted his
request that all he touched might turn to gold; but the inconvenience of
the gift drove him to pray for relief, which he obtained by bathing in
the Pactolus, the sands of which thereupon became highly auriferous.
Priam was, of course, King of Troy, but Homer does not exhibit him as a
mine-owner. Gyges, Alyattes, and Croesus were successively Kings of
Lydia, from 687 to 546 B.C., and were no doubt possessed of great
treasure in gold. Some few years ago we had occasion to inquire into
extensive old workings locally reputed to be Croesus' mines, at a place
some distance north of Smyrna, which would correspond very closely to
the locality here mentioned.

[5] There can be no doubt that the Carthaginians worked the mines of
Spain on an extensive scale for a very long period anterior to their
conquest by the Romans, but whether the mines were worked by the
Government or not we are unable to find any evidence.

[6] The silver mines of Mt. Laurion formed the economic mainstay of
Athens for the three centuries during which the State had the ascendency
in Greece, and there can be no doubt that the dominance of Athens and
its position as a sea-power were directly due to the revenues from the
mines. The first working of the mines is shrouded in mystery. The
scarcity of silver in the time of Solon (638-598 B.C.) would not
indicate any very considerable output at that time. According to
Xenophon (Essay on Revenue of Athens, IV., 2), written about 355 B.C.,
"they were wrought in very ancient times." The first definite discussion
of the mines in Greek record begins about 500 B.C., for about that time
the royalties began to figure in the Athenian Budget (Aristotle,
Constitution of Athens, 47). There can be no doubt that the mines
reached great prosperity prior to the Persian invasion. In the year 484
B.C. the mines returned 100 Talents (about 83,700 oz. Troy) to the
Treasury, and this, on the advice of Themistocles, was devoted to the
construction of the fleet which conquered the Persians at Salamis (480
B.C.). The mines were much interfered with by the Spartan invasions from
431 to 425 B.C., and again by their occupation in 413 B.C.; and by 355
B.C., when Xenophon wrote the "Revenues," exploitation had fallen to a
low ebb, for which he proposes the remedies noted by Agricola on p. 28.
By the end of the 4th Century, B.C., the mines had again reached
considerable prosperity, as is evidenced by Demosthenes' orations
against Pantaenetus and against Phaenippus, and by Lycurgus' prosecution
of Diphilos for robbing the supporting pillars. The domination of the
Macedonians under Philip and Alexander at the end of the 4th and
beginning of the 3rd Centuries B.C., however, so flooded Greece with
money from the mines of Thrace, that this probably interfered with
Laurion, at this time, in any event, began the decadence of these mines.
Synchronous also was the decadence of Athens, and, but for fitful
displays, the State was not able to maintain even its own independence,
not to mention its position as a dominant State. Finally, Strabo,
writing about 30 B.C. gives the epitaph of every mining
district--reworking the dumps. He says (IX., 1, 23): "The silver mines
in Attica were at first of importance, but are now exhausted. The
workmen, when the mines yielded a bad return to their labour, committed
to the furnace the old refuse and scoria, and hence obtained very pure
silver, for the former workmen had carried on the process in the furnace

Since 1860, the mines have been worked with some success by a French
Company, thus carrying the mining history of this district over a period
of twenty-seven centuries. The most excellent of many memoirs upon the
mines at Laurion, not only for its critical, historical, and
archæological value, but also because of its author's great insight into
mining and metallurgy, is that of Edouard Ardaillon (_Les Mines du
Laurion dans l'Antiquité_, Paris, 1897). We have relied considerably
upon this careful study for the following notes, and would refer others
to it for a short bibliography on the subject. We would mention in
passing that Augustus Boeckh's "Silver Mines of Laurion," which is
incorporated with his "Public Economy of Athens" (English Translation by
Lewis, London, 1842) has been too much relied upon by English students.
It is no doubt the product of one acquainted with written history, but
without any special knowledge of the industry and it is based on no
antiquarian research. The Mt. Laurion mining district is located near
the southern end of the Attic Peninsula. The deposits are silver-lead,
and they occur along the contact between approximately horizontal
limestones and slates. There are two principal beds of each, thus
forming three principal contacts. The most metalliferous of these
contacts are those at the base of the slates, the lowest contact of the
series being the richest. The ore-bodies were most irregular, varying
greatly in size, from a thin seam between schist planes, to very large
bodies containing as much as 200,000 cubic metres. The ores are
argentiferous galena, accompanied by considerable amounts of blende and
pyrites, all oxidized near the surface. The ores worked by the Ancients
appear to have been fairly rich in lead, for the discards worked in
recent years by the French Company, and the pillars left behind, ran 8%
to 10% lead. The ratio of silver was from 40 to 90 ounces per ton of
lead. The upper contacts were exposed by erosion and could be entered by
tunnels, but the lowest and most prolific contact line was only to be
reached by shafts. The shafts were ordinarily from four to six feet
square, and were undoubtedly cut by hammer and chisel; they were as much
as 380 feet deep. In some cases long inclines for travelling roads join
the vertical shafts in depth. The drives, whether tunnels or from
shafts, were not level, but followed every caprice of the sinuous
contact. They were from two to two and a half feet wide, often driven in
parallels with cross-cuts between, in order to exploit every corner of
the contact. The stoping of ore-bodies discovered was undertaken quite
systematically, the methods depending in the main on the shape of the
ore-body. If the body was large, its dimensions were first determined by
drives, crosscuts, rises, and winzes, as the case might require. If the
ore was mainly overhead it was overhand-stoped, and the stopes filled as
work progressed, inclined winzes being occasionally driven from the
stopes to the original entry drives. If the ore was mainly below, it was
underhand-stoped, pillars being left if necessary--such pillars in some
cases being thirty feet high. They also employed timber and artificial
pillars. The mines were practically dry. There is little evidence of
breaking by fire. The ore was hand-sorted underground and carried out by
the slaves, and in some cases apparently the windlass was used. It was
treated by grinding in mills and concentrating upon a sort of buddle.
These concentrates--mostly galena--were smelted in low furnaces and the
lead was subsequently cupelled. Further details of metallurgical methods
will be found in Notes on p. 391 and p. 465, on metallurgical subjects.

The mines were worked by slaves. Even the overseers were at times
apparently slaves, for we find (Xenophon, _Memorabilia_, II., 5) that
Nicias paid a whole talent for a good overseer. A talent would be about
837 Troy ounces of silver. As wages of skilled labour were about two and
one half pennyweights of silver per diem, and a family income of 100
ounces of silver per annum was affluence, the ratio of purchasing power
of Attic coinage to modern would be about 100 to 1. Therefore this mine
manager was worth in modern value roughly £8,000. The mines were the
property of the State. The areas were defined by vertical boundaries,
and were let on lease for definite periods for a fixed annual rent. More
ample discussion of the law will be found on p. 83.

[7] Xenophon. (Essay on The Revenues, IV., 30). "I think, however, that
I am able to give some advice with regard to this difficulty also (the
risk of opening new mines), and to show how new operations may be
conducted with the greatest safety. There are ten tribes at Athens, and
if to each of these the State should assign an equal number of slaves,
and the tribes should all make new cuttings, sharing their fortunes in
common, then if but one tribe should make any useful discovery it would
point out something profitable to the whole; but if two, three, or four,
or half the number should make some discovery, it is plain that the
works would be more profitable in proportion, and that they should all
fail is contrary to all experience in past times." (Watson's Trans. p.

[8] Agricola here refers to the proposal of Xenophon for the State to
collect slaves and hire them to work the mines of Laurion. There is no
evidence that this recommendation was ever carried out.

[9] _Partes._ Agricola, p. 89-91, describes in detail the organization
and management of these share companies. See Note 8, p. 90.

[10] This island in the northern Ægean Sea has produced this "earth"
from before Theophrastus' time (372-287 B.C.) down to the present day.
According to Dana (System of Mineralogy 689), it is cimolite, a hydrous
silicate of aluminium. The Ancients distinguished two kinds,--one sort
used as a pigment, and the other for medicinal purposes. This latter was
dug with great ceremony at a certain time of the year, moulded into
cubes, and stamped with a goat,--the symbol of Diana. It thus became
known as _terra sigillata_, and was an article of apothecary commerce
down to the last century. It is described by Galen (XII., 12),
Dioscorides (V., 63), and Pliny (XXXV., 14), as a remedy for ulcers and
snake bites.

[11] _Magister Metallorum_. See Note 1, p. 78, for the reasons of the
adoption of the term _Bergmeister_ and page 95 for details of his

[12] _Ramenta_. "Particles." The author uses this term indifferently for
fragments, particles of mineral, concentrates, gold dust, black tin,
etc., in all cases the result of either natural or artificial
concentration. As in technical English we have no general term for both
natural and artificial "concentrates," we have rendered it as the
context seemed to demand.

[13] A certain amount of bitumen does float ashore in the Dead Sea; the
origin of it is, however, uncertain. Strabo (XVI., 2, 42), Pliny (V., 15
and 16), and Josephus (IV., 8), all mention this fact. The lake for this
reason is often referred to by the ancient writers by the name

[14] _Excoctor_,--literally, "Smelter" or "Metallurgist."

[15] This reference should be to the _De Natura Fossilium_ (p. 230),
although there is a short reference to the matter in _De Ortu et Causis_
(p. 59). Agricola maintained that not only were jet and amber varieties
of bitumen, but also coal and camphor and obsidian. As jet (_gagates_)
is but a compact variety of coal, the ancient knowledge of this
substance has more interest than would otherwise attach to the gem,
especially as some materials described in this connection were no doubt
coal. The Greeks often refer to a series of substances which burned,
contained earth, and which no doubt comprised coal. Such substances are
mentioned by Aristotle (_De Mirabilibus_. 33, 41, 125), Nicander
(_Theriaca_. 37), and others, previous to the 2nd Century B.C., but the
most ample description is that of Theophrastus (23-28): "Some of the
more brittle stones there also are, which become as it were burning
coals when put into a fire, and continue so a long time; of this kind
are those about Bena, found in mines and washed down by the torrents,
for they will take fire on burning coals being thrown on them, and will
continue burning as long as anyone blows them; afterward they will
deaden, and may after that be made to burn again. They are therefore of
long continuance, but their smell is troublesome and disagreeable. That
also which is called the _spinus_, is found in mines. This stone, cut in
pieces and thrown together in a heap, exposed to the sun, burns; and
that the more, if it be moistened or sprinkled with water (a
pyritiferous shale?). But the _Lipara_ stone empties itself, as it were,
in burning, and becomes like the _pumice_, changing at once both its
colour and density; for before burning it is black, smooth, and compact.
This stone is found in the Pumices, separately in different places, as
it were, in cells, nowhere continuous to the matter of them. It is said
that in Melos the pumice is produced in this manner in some other stone,
as this is on the contrary in it; but the stone which the pumice is
found in is not at all like the _Lipara_ stone which is found in it.
Certain stones there are about Tetras, in Sicily, which is over against
Lipara, which empty themselves in the same manner in the fire. And in
the promontory called Erineas, there is a great quantity of stone like
that found about Bena, which, when burnt, emits a bituminous smell, and
leaves a matter resembling calcined earth. Those fossil substances that
are called coals, and are broken for use, are earthy; they kindle,
however, and burn like wood coals. These are found in Liguria, where
there also is amber, and in Elis, on the way to Olympia over the
mountains. These are used by smiths." (Based on Hill's Trans.).
Dioscorides and Pliny add nothing of value to this description.

Agricola (_De Nat. Fos._, p. 229-230) not only gives various localities
of jet, but also records its relation to coal. As to the latter, he
describes several occurrences, and describes the deposits as _vena
dilatata_. Coal had come into considerable use all over Europe,
particularly in England, long before Agricola's time; the oft-mentioned
charter to mine sea-coal given to the Monks of Newbottle Abbey, near
Preston, was dated 1210.

Amber was known to the Greeks by the name _electrum_, but whether the
alloy of the same name took its name from the colour of amber or _vice
versa_ is uncertain. The gum is supposed to be referred to by Homer (Od.
XV. 460), and Thales of Miletus (640-546 B.C.) is supposed to have first
described its power of attraction. It is mentioned by many other Greek
authors, Æschylus, Euripides, Aristotle, and others. The latter (_De
Mirabilibus_, 81) records of the amber islands in the Adriatic, that the
inhabitants tell the story that on these islands amber falls from poplar
trees. "This, they say, resembles gum and hardens like stone, the story
of the poets being that after Phaeton was struck by lightning his
sisters turned to poplar trees and shed tears of amber." Theophrastus
(53) says: "Amber is also a stone; it is dug out of the earth in Liguria
and has, like the before-mentioned (lodestone), a power of attraction."
Pliny (XXXVII., 11) gives a long account of both the substance,
literature, and mythology on the subject. His view of its origin was:
"Certainly amber is obtained from the islands of the Northern Ocean, and
is called by the Germans _glaesum_. For this reason the Romans, when
Germanicus Cæsar commanded in those parts, called one of them
_Glaesaria_, which was known to the barbarians as _Austeravia_. Amber
originates from gum discharged by a kind of pine tree, like gum from
cherry and resin from the ordinary pine. It is liquid at first, and
issues abundantly and hardens in time by cold, or by the sea when the
rising tides carry off the fragments from the shores of those islands.
Certainly it is thrown on the coasts, and is so light that it appears to
roll in the water. Our forefathers believed that it was the juice of a
tree, for they called it _succinum_. And that it belongs to a kind of
pine tree is proved by the odour of the pine tree which it gives when
rubbed, and that it burns when ignited like a pitch pine torch." The
term amber is of Arabic origin--from _Ambar_--and this term was adopted
by the Greeks after the Christian era. Agricola uses the Latin term
_succinum_ and (_De Nat. Fos._, p. 231-5) disputes the origin from tree
gum, and contends for submarine bitumen springs.

[16] The statement in _De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_ (p. 394) is as

"It came about by chance and accident that the silver mines were
discovered at Freiberg in Meissen. By the river Sala, which is not
unknown to Strabo, is Hala, which was once country, but is now a large
town; the site, at any rate, even from Roman times was famous and
renowned for its salt springs, for the possession of which the
Hermunduri fought with the Chatti. When people carried the salt thence
in wagons, as they now do straight through Meissen (Saxony) into
Bohemia--which is lacking in that seasoning to-day no less than
formerly--they saw galena in the wheel tracks, which had been uncovered
by the torrents. This lead ore, since it was similar to that of Goslar,
they put into their carts and carried to Goslar, for the same carriers
were accustomed to carry lead from that city. And since much more silver
was smelted from this galena than from that of Goslar, certain miners
betook themselves to that part of Meissen in which is now situated
Freiberg, a great and wealthy town; and we are told by consistent
stories and general report that they grew rich out of the mines."
Agricola places the discovery of the mines at Freiberg at about 1170.
See Note 11, p. 5.

[17] Diodorus Siculus (V., 35). "These places being covered with woods,
it is said that in ancient times these mountains were set on fire by
shepherds, and continued burning for many days, and parched the earth,
so that an abundance of silver ore was melted, and the metal flowed in
streams of pure silver like a river." Aristotle, nearly three centuries
before Diodorus, mentions this same story (_De Mirabilibus_, 87): "They
say that in Ibernia the woods were set on fire by certain shepherds, and
the earth thus heated, the country visibly flowed silver; and when some
time later there were earthquakes, and the earth burst asunder at
different places, a large amount of silver was collected." As the works
of Posidonius are lost, it is probable that Agricola was quoting from
Strabo (III., 2, 9), who says, in describing Spain: "Posidonius, in
praising the amount and excellence of the metals, cannot refrain from
his accustomed rhetoric, and becomes quite enthusiastic in exaggeration.
He tells us we are not to disbelieve the fable that formerly the forests
having been set on fire, the earth, which was loaded with silver and
gold, melted and threw up these metals to the surface, for inasmuch as
every mountain and wooded hill seemed to be heaped up with money by a
lavish fortune." (Hamilton's Trans. I., p. 220). Or he may have been
quoting from the _Deipnosophistae_ of Athenaeus (VI.), where Posidonius
is quoted: "And the mountains ... when once the woods upon them had
caught fire, spontaneously ran with liquid silver."

[18] Lucretius, _De Rerum Natura_ V. 1241.

[19] Agricola's account of this event in _De Veteribus et Novis
Metallis_ is as follows (p. 393): "Now veins are not always first
disclosed by the hand and labour of man, nor has art always demonstrated
them; sometimes they have been disclosed rather by chance or by good
fortune. I will explain briefly what has been written upon this matter
in history, what miners tell us, and what has occurred in our times.
Thus the mines at Goslar are said to have been found in the following
way. A certain noble, whose name is not recorded, tied his horse, which
was named Ramelus, to the branch of a tree which grew on the mountain.
This horse, pawing the earth with its hoofs, which were iron shod, and
thus turning it over, uncovered a hidden vein of lead, not unlike the
winged Pegasus, who in the legend of the poets opened a spring when he
beat the rock with his hoof. So just as that spring is named Hippocrene
after that horse, so our ancestors named the mountain Rammelsberg.
Whereas the perennial water spring of the poets would long ago have
dried up, the vein even to-day exists, and supplies an abundant amount
of excellent lead. That a horse can have opened a vein will seem
credible to anyone who reflects in how many ways the signs of veins are
shown by chance, all of which are explained in my work _De Re
Metallica_. Therefore, here we will believe the story, both because it
may happen that a horse may disclose a vein, and because the name of the
mountain agrees with the story." Agricola places the discovery of Goslar
in the Hartz at prior to 936. See Note 11, p. 5.

[20] _Fragmenta_. The glossary gives "_Geschube_." This term is defined
in the _Bergwerks' Lexicon_ (Chemnitz, 1743, p. 250) as the pieces of
stone, especially tin-stone, broken from the vein and washed out by the
water--the croppings.

[21] So far as we are able to discover, this is the first published
description of the divining rod as applied to minerals or water. Like
Agricola, many authors have sought to find its origin among the
Ancients. The magic rods of Moses and Homer, especially the rod with
which the former struck the rock at Horeb, the rod described by Ctesias
(died 398 B.C.) which attracted gold and silver, and the _virgula
divina_ of the Romans have all been called up for proof. It is true that
the Romans are responsible for the name _virgula divina_, "divining
rod," but this rod was used for taking auguries by casting bits of wood
(Cicero, _De Divinatione_). Despite all this, while the ancient
naturalists all give detailed directions for finding water, none mention
anything akin to the divining rod of the Middle Ages. It is also worth
noting that the Monk Theophilus in the 12th Century also gives a
detailed description of how to find water, but makes no mention of the
rod. There are two authorities sometimes cited as prior to Agricola, the
first being Basil Valentine in his "Last Will and Testament"
(XXIV-VIII.), and while there may be some reason (see Appendix) for
accepting the authenticity of the "Triumphal Chariot of Antimony" by
this author, as dating about 1500, there can be little doubt that the
"Last Will and Testament" was spurious and dated about 50 years after
Agricola. Paracelsus (_De Natura Rerum_ IX.), says: "These (divinations)
are vain and misleading, and among the first of them are divining rods,
which have deceived many miners. If they once point rightly they deceive
ten or twenty times." In his _De Origine Morborum Invisibilium_ (Book
I.) he adds that the "faith turns the rod." These works were no doubt
written prior to _De Re Metallica_--Paracelsus died in 1541--but they
were not published until some time afterward. Those interested in the
strange persistence of this superstition down to the present day--and
the files of the patent offices of the world are full of it--will find
the subject exhaustively discussed in M. E. Chevreul's "_De la Baguette
Divinatoire_," Paris, 1845; L. Figuier, "_Histoire du Merveilleux dans
les temps moderne II._", Paris, 1860; W. F. Barrett, Proceedings of the
Society of Psychical Research, part 32, 1897, and 38, 1900; R. W.
Raymond, American Inst. of Mining Engineers, 1883, p. 411. Of the
descriptions by those who believed in it there is none better than that
of William Pryce (_Mineralogia Cornubiensis_, London, 1778, pp.
113-123), who devotes much pains to a refutation of Agricola. When we
consider that a century later than Agricola such an advanced mind as
Robert Boyle (1626-1691), the founder of the Royal Society, was
convinced of the genuineness of the divining rod, one is more impressed
with the clarity of Agricola's vision. In fact, there were few indeed,
down to the 19th Century, who did not believe implicitly in the
effectiveness of this instrument, and while science has long since
abandoned it, not a year passes but some new manifestation of its hold
on the popular mind breaks out.

[22] Exodus VII., 10, 11, 12.

[23] Odyssey XVI., 172, and X., 238.

[24] Odyssey XXIV., 1, etc. The _Caduceus_ of Hermes had also the power
of turning things to gold, and it is interesting to note that in its
oldest form, as the insignia of heralds and of ambassadors, it had two

[25] In a general way _venae profundae_ were fissure veins and _venae
dilatatae_ were sheeted deposits. For description see Book III.

[26] These mines are in the Erzgebirge. We have adopted the names given
in the German translation.

[27] The quotation from Pliny (XXXIII., 31) as a whole reads as

"Silver is found in nearly all the provinces, but the finest of all in
Spain; where it is found in the barren lands, and in the mountains.
Wherever one vein of silver has been found, another is sure to be found
not far away. This is the case of nearly all the metals, whence it
appears that the Greeks derived _metalla_. It is wonderful that the
shafts begun by Hannibal in Spain still remain, their names being
derived from their makers. One of these at the present day called
Baebelo, furnished Hannibal with three hundred pounds' weight (of
silver) per day. This mountain is excavated for a distance of fifteen
hundred paces; and for this distance there are waterbearers lighted by
torches standing night and day baling out the water in turns, thus
making quite a river." Hannibal dates 247-183 B.C. and was therefore
dead 206 years when Pliny was born. According to a footnote in Bostock
and Riley's translation of Pliny, these workings were supposed to be in
the neighbourhood of Castulo, now Cazlona, near Linares. It was at
Castulo that Hannibal married his rich wife Himilce; and in the hills
north of Linares there are ancient silver mines still known as Los Pozos
de Anibal.


Previously I have given much information concerning the miners, also I
have discussed the choice of localities for mining, for washing sands,
and for evaporating waters; further, I described the method of searching
for veins. With such matters I was occupied in the second book; now I
come to the third book, which is about veins and stringers, and the
seams in the rocks[1]. The term "vein" is sometimes used to indicate
_canales_ in the earth, but very often elsewhere by this name I have
described that which may be put in vessels[2]; I now attach a second
significance to these words, for by them I mean to designate any mineral
substances which the earth keeps hidden within her own deep receptacles.

[Illustration 45a (Vein in mountain): A, C--The mountain. B--_Vena

First I will speak of the veins, which, in depth, width, and length,
differ very much one from another. Those of one variety descend from the
surface of the earth to its lowest depths, which on account of this
characteristic, I am accustomed to call "_venae profundae_."

[Illustration 45b (Vein in mountain): A, D--The mountain. B, C--_Vena

Another kind, unlike the _venae profundae_, neither ascend to the
surface of the earth nor descend, but lying under the ground, expand
over a large area; and on that account I call them "_venae dilatatae_."

[Illustration 49 (Veins in mountain): A, B, C, D--The mountain. E, F, G,
H, I, K--_Vena cumulata_.]

Another occupies a large extent of space in length and width; therefore
I usually call it "_vena cumulata_," for it is nothing else than an
accumulation of some certain kind of mineral, as I have described in the
book entitled _De Subterraneorum Ortu et Causis_. It occasionally
happens, though it is unusual and rare, that several accumulations of
this kind are found in one place, each one or more fathoms in depth and
four or five in width, and one is distant from another two, three, or
more fathoms. When the excavation of these accumulations begins, they at
first appear in the shape of a disc; then they open out wider; finally
from each of such accumulations is usually formed a "_vena cumulata_."

[Illustration 50a (Veins in mountain): A--_Vena profunda_.
B--_Intervenium_. C--Another _vena profunda_.]

[Illustration 50b (Veins in mountain): A & B--_Vena dilatatae_.
C--_Intervenium_. D & E--Other _venae dilatatae_.]

The space between two veins is called an _intervenium_; this interval
between the veins, if it is between _venae dilatatae_ is entirely hidden
underground. If, however, it lies between _venae profundae_ then the top
is plainly in sight, and the remainder is hidden.

[Illustration 53 (Veins in mountain): A--Wide _vena profunda_.
B--Narrow _vena profunda_.]

_Venae profundae_ differ greatly one from another in width, for some of
them are one fathom wide, some are two cubits, others one cubit; others
again are a foot wide, and some only half a foot; all of which our
miners call wide veins. Others on the contrary, are only a palm wide,
others three digits, or even two; these they call narrow. But in other
places where there are very wide veins, the widths of a cubit, or a
foot, or half a foot, are said to be narrow; at Cremnitz, for instance,
there is a certain vein which measures in one place fifteen fathoms in
width, in another eighteen, and in another twenty; the truth of this
statement is vouched for by the inhabitants.

[Illustration 54a (Veins in mountain): A--Thin _vena dilatata_.
B--Thick _vena dilatata_.]

_Venae dilatatae_, in truth, differ also in thickness, for some are one
fathom thick, others two, or even more; some are a cubit thick, some a
foot, some only half a foot; and all these are usually called thick
veins. Some on the other hand, are but a palm thick, some three digits,
some two, some one; these are called thin veins.

[Illustration 54b (Seams in the Rocks): A, B, C--Vein. D, E, F--Seams in
the Rock (_Commissurae Saxorum_).]

_Venae profundae_ vary in direction; for some run from east to west.

[Illustration 55a (Seams in the Rocks): A, B, C--Vein. D, E, F--_Seams in
the Rocks_.]

Others, on the other hand, run from west to east.

[Illustration 55b (Seams in the Rocks): A, B, C--Vein. D, E, F--_Seams in
the Rocks_.]

Others run from south to north.

[Illustration 56 (Seams in the Rocks): A, B, C--Vein. D, E, F--_Seams in
the Rocks_.]

Others, on the contrary, run from north to south.

The seams in the rocks indicate to us whether a vein runs from the east
or from the west. For instance, if the rock seams incline toward the
westward as they descend into the earth, the vein is said to run from
east to west; if they incline toward the east, the vein is said to run
from west to east; in a similar manner, we determine from the rock seams
whether the veins run north or south.

[Illustration 57 (Compass)]

Now miners divide each quarter of the earth into six divisions; and by
this method they apportion the earth into twenty-four directions, which
they divide into two parts of twelve each. The instrument which
indicates these directions is thus constructed. First a circle is made;
then at equal intervals on one half portion of it right through to the
other, twelve straight lines called by the Greeks [Greek: diametroi],
and in the Latin _dimetientes_, are drawn through a central point which
the Greeks call [Greek: kentron], so that the circle is thus divided
into twenty-four divisions, all being of an equal size. Then, within the
circle are inscribed three other circles, the outermost of which has
cross-lines dividing it into twenty-four equal parts; the space between
it and the next circle contains two sets of twelve numbers, inscribed on
the lines called "diameters"; while within the innermost circle it is
hollowed out to contain a magnetic needle[3]. The needle lies directly
over that one of the twelve lines called "diameters" on which the
number XII is inscribed at both ends.

When the needle which is governed by the magnet points directly from the
north to the south, the number XII at its tail, which is forked,
signifies the north, that number XII which is at its point indicates the
south. The sign VI superior indicates the east, and VI inferior the
west. Further, between each two cardinal points there are always five
others which are not so important. The first two of these directions are
called the prior directions; the last two are called the posterior, and
the fifth direction lies immediately between the former and the latter;
it is halved, and one half is attributed to one cardinal point and one
half to the other. For example, between the northern number XII and the
eastern number VI, are points numbered I, II, III, IV, V, of which I and
II are northern directions lying toward the east, IV and V are eastern
directions lying toward the north, and III is assigned, half to the
north and half to the east.

One who wishes to know the direction of the veins underground, places
over the vein the instrument just described; and the needle, as soon as
it becomes quiet, will indicate the course of the vein. That is, if the
vein proceeds from VI to VI, it either runs from east to west, or from
west to east; but whether it be the former or the latter, is clearly
shown by the seams in the rocks. If the vein proceeds along the line
which is between V and VI toward the opposite direction, it runs from
between the fifth and sixth divisions of east to the west, or from
between the fifth and sixth divisions of west to the east; and again,
whether it is the one or the other is clearly shown by the seams in the
rocks. In a similar manner we determine the other directions.

[Illustration 59 (Compass with winds)]

Now miners reckon as many points as the sailors do in reckoning up the
number of the winds. Not only is this done to-day in this country, but
it was also done by the Romans who in olden times gave the winds partly
Latin names and partly names borrowed from the Greeks. Any miner who
pleases may therefore call the directions of the veins by the names of
the winds. There are four principal winds, as there are four cardinal
points: the _Subsolanus_, which blows from the east; and its opposite
the _Favonius_, which blows from the west; the latter is called by the
Greeks [Greek: Zephyros], and the former [Greek: Apêliôtês]. There is
the _Auster_, which blows from the south; and opposed to it is the
_Septentrio_, from the north; the former the Greeks called [Greek:
Notos], and the latter [Greek: Aparktias]. There are also subordinate
winds, to the number of twenty, as there are directions, for between
each two principal winds there are always five subordinate ones. Between
the _Subsolanus_ (east wind) and the _Auster_ (south wind) there is the
_Ornithiae_ or the Bird wind, which has the first place next to the
_Subsolanus_; then comes _Caecias_; then _Eurus_, which lies in the
midway of these five; next comes _Vulturnus_; and lastly, _Euronotus_,
nearest the _Auster_ (south wind). The Greeks have given these names to
all of these, with the exception of _Vulturnus_, but those who do not
distinguish the winds in so precise a manner say this is the same as the
Greeks called [Greek: Euros]. Between the _Auster_ (south wind) and the
_Favonius_ (west wind) is first _Altanus_, to the right of the _Auster_
(south wind); then _Libonotus_; then _Africus_, which is the middle one
of these five; after that comes _Subvesperus_; next _Argestes_, to the
left of _Favonius_ (west wind). All these, with the exception of
_Libonotus_ and _Argestes_, have Latin names; but _Africus_ also is
called by the Greeks [Greek: Lips]. In a similar manner, between
_Favonius_ (west wind) and _Septentrio_ (north wind), first to the right
of _Favonius_ (west wind), is the _Etesiae_; then _Circius_; then
_Caurus_, which is in the middle of these five; then _Corus_; and lastly
_Thrascias_ to the left of _Septentrio_ (north wind). To all of these,
except that of _Caurus_, the Greeks gave the names, and those who do not
distinguish the winds by so exact a plan, assert that the wind which the
Greeks called [Greek: Koros] and the Latins _Caurus_ is one and the
same. Again, between _Septentrio_ (north wind) and the _Subsolanus_
(east wind), the first to the right of _Septentrio_ (north wind) is
_Gallicus_; then _Supernas_; then _Aquilo_, which is the middle one of
these five; next comes _Boreas_; and lastly _Carbas_, to the left of
_Subsolanus_ (east wind). Here again, those who do not consider the
winds to be in so great a multitude, but say there are but twelve winds
in all, or at the most fourteen, assert that the wind called by the
Greeks [Greek: Boreas] and the Latins _Aquilo_ is one and the same. For
our purpose it is not only useful to adopt this large number of winds,
but even to double it, as the German sailors do. They always reckon that
between each two there is one in the centre taken from both. By this
method we also are able to signify the intermediate directions by means
of the names of the winds. For instance, if a vein runs from VI east to
VI west, it is said to proceed from _Subsolanus_ (east wind) to
_Favonius_ (west wind); but one which proceeds from between V and VI of
the east to between V and VI west is said to proceed out of the middle
of _Carbas_ and _Subsolanus_ to between _Argestes_ and _Favonius_; the
remaining directions, and their intermediates are similarly designated.
The miner, on account of the natural properties of a magnet, by which
the needle points to the south, must fix the instrument already
described so that east is to the left and west to the right.

[Illustration 60 (Veins in mountain): A, B--_Venae dilatatae_. C--_Seams
in the Rocks_.]

In a similar way to _venae profundae_, the _venae dilatatae_ vary in
their lateral directions, and we are able to understand from the seams
in the rocks in which direction they extend into the ground. For if
these incline toward the west in depth, the vein is said to extend from
east to west; if on the contrary, they incline toward the east, the vein
is said to go from west to east. In the same way, from the rock seams we
can determine veins running south and north, or the reverse, and
likewise to the subordinate directions and their intermediates.

[Illustration 61a (Veins in mountain): A--Straight _vena profunda_.
B--Curved _vena profunda_ [should be _vena dilatata_(?)].]

Further, as regards the question of direction of a _vena profunda_, one
runs straight from one quarter of the earth to that quarter which is
opposite, while another one runs in a curve, in which case it may happen
that a vein proceeding from the east does not turn to the quarter
opposite, which is the west, but twists itself and turns to the south or
the north.

[Illustration 61b (Veins in mountain): A--Horizontal _vena dilatata_.
B--Inclined _vena dilatata_. C--Curved _vena dilatata_.]

Similarly some _venae dilatatae_ are horizontal, some are inclined, and
some are curved.

[Illustration 62a (Veins in mountain)]

Also the veins which we call _profundae_ differ in the manner in which
they descend into the depths of the earth; for some are vertical (A),
some are inclined and sloping (B), others crooked (C).

[Illustration 62b (Veins in mountain)]

Moreover, _venae profundae_ (B) differ much among themselves regarding
the kind of locality through which they pass, for some extend along the
slopes of mountains or hills (A-C) and do not descend down the sides.

[Illustration 63a (Veins in mountain)]

Other _Venae Profundae_ (D, E, F) from the very summit of the mountain
or hill descend the slope (A) to the hollow or valley (B), and they
again ascend the slope or the side of the mountain or hill opposite (C).

[Illustration 63b (Veins in mountain)]

Other _Venae Profundae_ (C, D) descend the mountain or hill (A) and
extend out into the plain (B).

[Illustration 64a (Veins in mountain): A--Mountainous Plain. B--_Vena

Some veins run straight along on the plateaux, the hills, or plains.

[Illustration 64b (Intersections of Veins): A--Principal vein.
B--Transverse vein. C--Vein cutting principal one obliquely.]

In the next place, _venae profundae_ differ not a little in the manner
in which they intersect, since one may cross through a second
transversely, or one may cross another one obliquely as if cutting it in

[Illustration 65 (Intersections of Veins): A--Principal vein. B--Vein
which cuts A obliquely. C--Part carried away. D--That part which has
been carried forward.]

If a vein which cuts through another principal one obliquely be the
harder of the two, it penetrates right through it, just as a wedge of
beech or iron can be driven through soft wood by means of a tool. If it
be softer, the principal vein either drags the soft one with it for a
distance of three feet, or perhaps one, two, three, or several fathoms,
or else throws it forward along the principal vein; but this latter
happens very rarely. But that the vein which cuts the principal one is
the same vein on both sides, is shown by its having the same character
in its footwalls and hangingwalls.

[Illustration 66a (Intersections of Veins): A, B--Two veins descend
inclined and dip toward each other. C--Junction. Likewise two veins.
D--Indicates one descending vertically. E--Marks the other descending
inclined, which dips toward D. F--Their junction.]

Sometimes _venae profundae_ join one with another, and from two or more
outcropping veins[4], one is formed; or from two which do not outcrop
one is made, if they are not far distant from each other, and the one
dips into the other, or if each dips toward the other, and they thus
join when they have descended in depth. In exactly the same way, out of
three or more veins, one may be formed in depth.

[Illustration 66b (Intersections of Veins)]

However, such a junction of veins sometimes disunites and in this way
it happens that the vein which was the right-hand vein becomes the left;
and again, the one which was on the left becomes the right.

Furthermore, one vein may be split and divided into parts by some hard
rock resembling a beak, or stringers in soft rock may sunder the vein
and make two or more. These sometimes join together again and sometimes
remain divided.

[Illustration 67 (Intersections of Veins): A, B--Veins dividing. C--The
same joining.]

Whether a vein is separating from or uniting with another can be
determined only from the seams in the rocks. For example, if a principal
vein runs from the east to the west, the rock seams descend in depth
likewise from the east toward the west, and the associated vein which
joins with the principal vein, whether it runs from the south or the
north, has its rock seams extending in the same way as its own, and they
do not conform with the seams in the rock of the principal vein--which
remain the same after the junction--unless the associated vein proceeds
in the same direction as the principal vein. In that case we name the
broader vein the principal one, and the narrower the associated vein.
But if the principal vein splits, the rock seams which belong
respectively to the parts, keep the same course when descending in depth
as those of the principal vein.

[Illustration 68 (Intersections of Veins): A, C--_Vena dilatata_
crossing a _vena profunda_. B--_Vena profunda_. D, E--_Vena dilatata_
which junctions with a _vena profunda_. F--_Vena profunda_. G--_Vena
dilatata_. H, I--Its divided parts. K--_Vena profunda_ which divides the
_vena dilatata_.]

But enough of _venae profundae_, their junctions and divisions. Now we
come to _venae dilatatae_. A _vena dilatata_ may either cross a _vena
profunda_, or join with it, or it may be cut by a _vena profunda_, and
be divided into parts.

[Illustration 69a (Veins in mountain): A--The "beginning" (_origo_).
B--The "end" (_finis_). C--The "head" (_caput_). D--The "tail"

Finally, a _vena profunda_ has a "beginning" (_origo_), an "end"
(_finis_), a "head" (_caput_), and a "tail" (_cauda_). That part whence
it takes its rise is said to be its "beginning," that in which it
terminates the "end." Its "head"[5] is that part which emerges into
daylight; its "tail" that part which is hidden in the earth. But miners
have no need to seek the "beginning" of veins, as formerly the kings of
Egypt sought for the source of the Nile, but it is enough for them to
discover some other part of the vein and to recognise its direction, for
seldom can either the "beginning" or the "end" be found. The direction
in which the head of the vein comes into the light, or the direction
toward which the tail extends, is indicated by its footwall and
hangingwall. The latter is said to hang, and the former to lie. The vein
rests on the footwall, and the hangingwall overhangs it; thus, when we
descend a shaft, the part to which we turn the face is the footwall and
seat of the vein, that to which we turn the back is the hangingwall.
Also in another way, the head accords with the footwall and the tail
with the hangingwall, for if the footwall is toward the south, the vein
extends its head into the light toward the south; and the hangingwall,
because it is always opposite to the footwall, is then toward the north.
Consequently the vein extends its tail toward the north if it is an
inclined _vena profunda_. Similarly, we can determine with regard to
east and west and the subordinate and their intermediate directions. A
_vena profunda_ which descends into the earth may be either vertical,
inclined, or crooked; the footwall of an inclined vein is easily
distinguished from the hangingwall, but it is not so with a vertical
vein; and again, the footwall of a crooked vein is inverted and changed
into the hangingwall, and contrariwise the hangingwall is twisted into
the footwall, but very many of these crooked veins may be turned back to
vertical or inclined ones.

[Illustration 69b (Veins in mountain): A--The "beginning." B--The "end."
C, D--The "sides."]

A _vena dilatata_ has only a "beginning" and an "end," and in the place
of the "head" and "tail" it has two sides.

[Illustration 70 (Veins in mountain): A--The "beginning." B--The "end."
C--The "head." D--The "tail." E--Transverse vein.]

A _vena cumulata_ has a "beginning," an "end," a "head," and a "tail,"
just as a _vena profunda_. Moreover, a _vena cumulata_, and likewise a
_vena dilatata_, are often cut through by a transverse _vena profunda_.

[Illustration 71a (Fibra dilatata): A, B--Veins. C--Transverse
stringer. D--Oblique stringer. E--Associated stringer. F--_Fibra

Stringers (_fibrae_)[6], which are little veins, are classified into
_fibrae transversae_, _fibrae obliquae_ which cut the vein obliquely,
_fibrae sociae_, _fibrae dilatatae_, and _fibrae incumbentes_. The
_fibra transversa_ crosses the vein; the _fibra obliqua_ crosses the
vein obliquely; the _fibra socia_ joins with the vein itself; the _fibra
dilatata_, like the _vena dilatata_, penetrates through it; but the
_fibra dilatata_, as well as the _fibra profunda_, is usually found
associated with a vein.

[Illustration 71b (Fibra incumbens): A--Vein. B--_Fibra incumbens_ from
the surface of the hangingwall. C--Same from the footwall.]

The _fibra incumbens_ does not descend as deeply into the earth as the
other stringers, but lies on the vein, as it were, from the surface to
the hangingwall or footwall, from which it is named _Subdialis_.[7]

In truth, as to direction, junctions, and divisions, the stringers are
not different from the veins.

[Illustration 72 (Seams in the Rocks): A--Seams which proceed from the
east. B--The inverse.]

Lastly, the seams, which are the very finest stringers (_fibrae_),
divide the rock, and occur sometimes frequently, sometimes rarely. From
whatever direction the vein comes, its seams always turn their heads
toward the light in the same direction. But, while the seams usually run
from one point of the compass to another immediately opposite it, as for
instance, from east to west, if hard stringers divert them, it may
happen that these very seams, which before were running from east to
west, then contrariwise proceed from west to east, and the direction of
the rocks is thus inverted. In such a case, the direction of the veins
is judged, not by the direction of the seams which occur rarely, but by
those which constantly recur.

[Illustration 73 (Veins in mountain): A--Solid vein. B--Solid stringer.
C--Cavernous vein. D--Cavernous stringer. E--Barren vein. F--Barren

Both veins or stringers may be solid or drusy, or barren of minerals, or
pervious to water. Solid veins contain no water and very little air. The
drusy veins rarely contain water; they often contain air. Those which
are barren of minerals often carry water. Solid veins and stringers
consist sometimes of hard materials, sometimes of soft, and sometimes of
a kind of medium between the two.

But to return to veins. A great number of miners consider[8] that the
best veins in depth are those which run from the VI or VII direction of
the east to the VI or VII direction of the west, through a mountain
slope which inclines to the north; and whose hangingwalls are in the
south, and whose footwalls are in the north, and which have their heads
rising to the north, as explained before, always like the footwall, and
finally, whose rock seams turn their heads to the east. And the veins
which are the next best are those which, on the contrary, extend from
the VI or VII direction of the west to the VI or VII direction of the
east, through the slope of a mountain which similarly inclines to the
north, whose hangingwalls are also in the south, whose footwalls are in
the north, and whose heads rise toward the north; and lastly, whose rock
seams raise their heads toward the west. In the third place, they
recommend those veins which extend from XII north to XII south, through
the slope of a mountain which faces east; whose hangingwalls are in the
west, whose footwalls are in the east; whose heads rise toward the east;
and whose rock seams raise their heads toward the north. Therefore they
devote all their energies to those veins, and give very little or
nothing to those whose heads, or the heads of whose rock seams rise
toward the south or west. For although they say these veins sometimes
show bright specks of pure metal adhering to the stones, or they come
upon lumps of metal, yet these are so few and far between that despite
them it is not worth the trouble to excavate such veins; and miners who
persevere in digging in the hope of coming upon a quantity of metal,
always lose their time and trouble. And they say that from veins of this
kind, since the sun's rays draw out the metallic material, very little
metal is gained. But in this matter the actual experience of the miners
who thus judge of the veins does not always agree with their opinions,
nor is their reasoning sound; since indeed the veins which run from east
to west through the slope of a mountain which inclines to the south,
whose heads rise likewise to the south, are not less charged with
metals, than those to which miners are wont to accord the first place in
productiveness; as in recent years has been proved by the St. Lorentz
vein at Abertham, which our countrymen call Gottsgaab, for they have dug
out of it a large quantity of pure silver; and lately a vein in
Annaberg, called by the name of Himmelsch hoz[9], has made it plain by
the production of much silver that veins which extend from the north to
the south, with their heads rising toward the west, are no less rich in
metals than those whose heads rise toward the east.

It may be denied that the heat of the sun draws the metallic material
out of these veins; for though it draws up vapours from the surface of
the ground, the rays of the sun do not penetrate right down to the
depths; because the air of a tunnel which is covered and enveloped by
solid earth to the depth of only two fathoms is cold in summer, for the
intermediate earth holds in check the force of the sun. Having observed
this fact, the inhabitants and dwellers of very hot regions lie down by
day in caves which protect them from the excessive ardour of the sun.
Therefore it is unlikely that the sun draws out from within the earth
the metallic bodies. Indeed, it cannot even dry the moisture of many
places abounding in veins, because they are protected and shaded by the
trees. Furthermore, certain miners, out of all the different kinds of
metallic veins, choose those which I have described, and others, on the
contrary, reject copper mines which are of this sort, so that there
seems to be no reason in this. For what can be the reason if the sun
draws no copper from copper veins, that it draws silver from silver
veins, and gold from gold veins?

Moreover, some miners, of whose number was Calbus[10], distinguish
between the gold-bearing rivers and streams. A river, they say, or a
stream, is most productive of fine and coarse grains of gold when it
comes from the east and flows to the west, and when it washes against
the foot of mountains which are situated in the north, and when it has a
level plain toward the south or west. In the second place, they esteem a
river or a stream which flows in the opposite course from the west
toward the east, and which has the mountains to the north and the level
plain to the south. In the third place, they esteem the river or the
stream which flows from the north to the south and washes the base of
the mountains which are situated in the east. But they say that the
river or stream is least productive of gold which flows in a contrary
direction from the south to the north, and washes the base of mountains
which are situated in the west. Lastly, of the streams or rivers which
flow from the rising sun toward the setting sun, or which flow from the
northern parts to the southern parts, they favour those which approach
the nearest to the lauded ones, and say they are more productive of
gold, and the further they depart from them the less productive they
are. Such are the opinions held about rivers and streams. Now, since
gold is not generated in the rivers and streams, as we have maintained
against Albertus[11] in the book entitled "_De Subterraneorum Ortu et
Causis_," Book V, but is torn away from the veins and stringers and
settled in the sands of torrents and water-courses, in whatever
direction the rivers or streams flow, therefore it is reasonable to
expect to find gold therein; which is not opposed by experience.
Nevertheless, we do not deny that gold is generated in veins and
stringers which lie under the beds of rivers or streams, as in other



[1] Modern nomenclature in the description of ore-deposits is so
impregnated with modern views of their origin, that we have considered
it desirable in many instances to adopt the Latin terms used by the
author, for we believe this method will allow the reader greater freedom
of judgment as to the author's views. The Latin names retained are
usually expressive even to the non-Latin student. In a general way, a
_vena profunda_ is a fissure vein, a _vena dilatata_ is a bedded
deposit, and a _vena cumulata_ an impregnation, or a replacement or a
_stockwerk_. The _canales_, as will appear from the following footnote,
were ore channels. "The seams of the rocks" (_commissurae saxorum_) are
very puzzling. The author states, as appears in the following note, that
they are of two kinds,--contemporaneous with the formation of the rocks,
and also of the nature of veinlets. However, as to their supposed
relation to the strike of veins, we can offer no explanation. There are
passages in this chapter where if the word "ore-shoot" were introduced
for "seams in the rocks" the text would be intelligible. That is, it is
possible to conceive the view that the determination of whether an
east-west vein ran east or ran west was dependent on the dip of the
ore-shoot along the strike. This view, however, is utterly impossible to
reconcile with the description and illustration of _commissurae saxorum_
given on page 54, where they are defined as the finest stringers. The
following passage from the _Nützliche Bergbüchlin_ (see Appendix), reads
very much as though the dip of ore-shoots was understood at this time in
relation to the direction of veins. "Every vein (_gang_) has two
(outcrops) _ausgehen_, one of the _ausgehen_ is toward daylight along
the whole length of the vein, which is called the _ausgehen_ of the
whole vein. The other _ausgehen_ is contrary to or toward the strike
(_streichen_) of the vein, according to its rock (_gestein_), that is
called the _gesteins ausgehen_; for instance, every vein that has its
strike from east to west has its _gesteins ausgehen_ to the east, and

Agricola's classification of ore-deposits, after the general distinction
between alluvial and _in situ_ deposits, is based entirely upon form, as
will be seen in the quotation below relating to the origin of _canales_.
The German equivalents in the Glossary are as follows:--

  Fissure vein (_vena profunda_)              _Gang._
  Bedded deposit (_vena dilatata_)            _Schwebender gang oder fletze._
  Stockwerk or impregnation (_vena cumulata_) _Geschute oder stock._
  Stringer (_fibra_)                          _Klufft._
  Seams or joints (_commissurae saxorum_)     _Absetzen des gesteins._

It is interesting to note that in _De Natura Fossilium_ he describes
coal and salt, and later in _De Re Metallica_ he describes the Mannsfeld
copper schists, as all being _venae dilatatae_. This nomenclature and
classification is not original with Agricola. Pliny (XXXIII, 21) uses
the term _vena_ with no explanations, and while Agricola coined the
Latin terms for various kinds of veins, they are his transliteration of
German terms already in use. The _Nützliche Bergbüchlin_ gives this same

were three schools of explanation of the phenomena of ore deposits, the
orthodox followers of the Genesis, the Greek Philosophers, and the
Alchemists. The geology of the Genesis--the contemporaneous formation of
everything--needs no comment other than that for anyone to have proposed
an alternative to the dogma of the orthodox during the Middle Ages,
required much independence of mind. Of the Greek views--which are meagre
enough--that of the Peripatetics greatly dominated thought on natural
phenomena down to the 17th century. Aristotle's views may be summarized:
The elements are earth, water, air, and fire; they are transmutable and
never found pure, and are endowed with certain fundamental properties
which acted as an "efficient" force upon the material cause--the
elements. These properties were dryness and dampness and heat and cold,
the latter being active, the former passive. Further, the elements were
possessed of weight and lightness, for instance earth was absolutely
heavy, fire absolutely light. The active and passive properties existed
in binary combinations, one of which is characteristic, _i.e._, "earth"
is cold and dry, water damp and cold, fire hot and dry, air hot and wet;
transmutation took place, for instance, by removing the cold from water,
when air resulted (really steam), and by removing the dampness from
water, when "earth" resulted (really any dissolved substance). The
transmutation of the elements in the earth (meaning the globe) produces
two "exhalations," the one fiery (probably meaning gases), the other
damp (probably meaning steam). The former produces stones, the latter
the metals. Theophrastus (On Stones, I to VII.) elaborates the views of
Aristotle on the origin of stones, metals, etc.: "Of things formed in
the earth some have their origin from water, others from earth. Water is
the basis of metals, silver, gold, and the rest; 'earth' of stones, as
well the more precious as the common.... All these are formed by
solidification of matter pure and equal in its constituent parts, which
has been brought together in that state by mere afflux or by means of
some kind of percolation, or separated.... The solidification is in some
of these substances due to heat and in others to cold." (Based on Hill's
Trans., pp. 3-11). That is, the metals inasmuch as they become liquid
when heated must be in a large part water, and, like water, they
solidify with cold. Therefore, the "metals are cold and damp." Stones,
on the other hand, solidify with heat and do not liquefy, therefore,
they are "dry and hot" and partake largely of "earth." This "earth" was
something indefinite, but purer and more pristine than common clay. In
discussing the ancient beliefs with regard to the origin of deposits, we
must not overlook the import of the use of the word "vein" (_vena_) by
various ancient authors including Pliny (XXXIII, 21), although he offers
no explanation of the term.

During the Middle Ages there arose the horde of Alchemists and
Astrologers, a review of the development of whose muddled views is but
barren reading. In the main they held more or less to the Peripatetic
view, with additions of their own. Geber (13th (?) century, see Appendix
B) propounded the conception that all metals were composed of varying
proportions of "spiritual" sulphur and quicksilver, and to these
Albertus Magnus added salt. The Astrologers contributed the idea that
the immediate cause of the metals were the various planets. The only
work devoted to description of ore-deposits prior to Agricola was the
_Bergbüchlin_ (about 1520, see Appendix B), and this little book
exhibits the absolute apogee of muddled thought derived from the
Peripatetics, the Alchemists, and the Astrologers. We believe it is of
interest to reproduce the following statement, if for no other reason
than to indicate the great advance in thought shown by Agricola.

"The first chapter or first part; on the common origin of ore, whether
silver, gold, tin, copper, iron, or lead ore, in which they all appear
together, and are called by the common name of metallic ore. It must be
noticed that for the washing or smelting of metallic ore, there must be
the one who works and the thing that is worked upon, or the material
upon which the work is expended. The general worker (efficient force) on
the ore and on all things that are born, is the heavens, its movement,
its light and influences, as the philosophers say. The influence of the
heavens is multiplied by the movement of the firmaments and the
movements of the seven planets. Therefore, every metallic ore receives a
special influence from its own particular planet, due to the properties
of the planet and of the ore, also due to properties of heat, cold,
dampness, and dryness. Thus gold is of the Sun or its influence, silver
of the Moon, tin of Jupiter, copper of Venus, iron of Mars, lead of
Saturn, and quicksilver of Mercury. Therefore, metals are often called
by these names by hermits and other philosophers. Thus gold is called
the Sun, in Latin _Sol_, silver is called the Moon, in Latin _Luna_, as
is clearly stated in the special chapters on each metal. Thus briefly
have we spoken of the 'common worker' of metal and ore. But the thing
worked upon, or the common material of all metals, according to the
opinion of the learned, is sulphur and quicksilver, which through the
movement and influence of the heavens must have become united and
hardened into one metallic body or one ore. Certain others hold that
through the movement and the influence of the heavens, vapours or
_braden_, called mineral exhalations, are drawn up from the depths of
the earth, from sulphur and quicksilver, and the rising fumes pass into
the veins and stringers and are united through the effect of the planets
and made into ore. Certain others hold that metal is not formed from
quicksilver, because in many places metallic ore is found and no
quicksilver. But instead of quicksilver they maintain a damp and cold
and slimy material is set up on all sulphur which is drawn out from the
earth, like your perspiration, and from that mixed with sulphur all
metals are formed. Now each of these opinions is correct according to a
good understanding and right interpretation; the ore or metal is formed
from the fattiness of the earth as the material of the first degree
(primary element), also the vapours or _braden_ on the one part and the
materials on the other part, both of which are called quicksilver.
Likewise in the mingling or union of the quicksilver and the sulphur in
the ore, the sulphur is counted the male and quicksilver the female, as
in the bearing or conception of a child. Also the sulphur is a special
worker in ore or metal.

"The second chapter or part deals with the general capacity of the
mountain. Although the influence of the heavens and the fitness of the
material are necessary to the formation of ore or metal, yet these are
not enough thereto. But there must be adaptability of the natural vessel
in which the ore is formed, such are the veins, namely _steinendegange_,
_flachgange_, _schargange_, _creutzgange_, or as these may be termed in
provincial names. Also the mineral force must have easy access to the
natural vessel such as through the _kluffte_ (stringers), namely
_hengkluft_, _querklufte_, _flachekluffte_, _creutzklufft_, and other
occasional _flotzwerk_, according to their various local names. Also
there must be a suitable place in the mountain which the veins and
stringers can traverse."

absolutely the Biblical view which, he says, was the opinion of the
vulgar; further, he repudiates the alchemistic and astrological view
with great vigour. There can be no doubt, however, that he was greatly
influenced by the Peripatetic philosophy. He accepted absolutely the
four elements--earth, fire, water, and air, and their "binary"
properties, and the theory that every substance had a material cause
operated upon by an efficient force. Beyond this he did not go, and a
large portion of _De Ortu et Causis_ is devoted to disproof of the
origin of metals and stones from the Peripatetic "exhalations."

No one should conclude that Agricola's theories are set out with the
clarity of Darwin or Lyell. However, the matter is of such importance in
the history of the theory of ore-deposits, and has been either so
ignored or so coloured by the preconceptions of narrators, that we
consider it justifiable to devote the space necessary to a reproduction
of his own statements in _De Ortu et Causis_ and other works. Before
doing so we believe it will be of service to readers to summarize these
views, and in giving quotations from the Author's other works, to group
them under special headings, following the outline of his theory given
below. His theory was:--

(1) Openings in the earth (_canales_) were formed by the erosion of
subterranean waters.

(2) These ground waters were due (_a_) to the infiltration of the
surface waters, rain, river, and sea water; (_b_) to the condensation of
steam (_halitus_) arising from the penetration of the surface waters to
greater depths,--the production of this _halitus_ being due to
subterranean heat, which in his view was in turn due in the main to
burning bitumen (a comprehensive genera which embraced coal).

(3) The filling of these _canales_ is composed of "earth," "solidified
juices," "stone," metals, and "compounds," all deposited from water and
"juices" circulating in the _canales_. (See also note 4, page 1).

"Earth" comprises clay, mud, ochre, marl, and "peculiar earths"
generally. The origin of these "earths" was from rocks, due to erosion,
transportation, and deposition by water. "Solidified juices" (_succi
concreti_) comprised salt, soda, vitriol, bitumen, etc., being generally
those substances which he conceived were soluble in and deposited from
water. "Stones" comprised precious, semi-precious, and unusual stones,
such as quartz, fluor-spar, etc., as distinguished from country rock;
the origin of these he attributed in minor proportion to transportation
of fragments of rock, but in the main to deposits from ordinary mineral
juice and from "stone juice" (_succus lapidescens_). Metals comprised
the seven traditional metals; the "compounds" comprised the metallic
minerals; and both were due to deposition from juices, the compounds
being due to a mixture of juices. The "juices" play the most important
part in Agricola's theory. Each substance had its own particular juice,
and in his theory every substance had a material and an efficient cause,
the first being the juice, the second being heat or cold. Owing to the
latter the juices fell into two categories--those solidified by heat
(_i.e._, by evaporation, such as salt), and those solidified by cold,
(_i.e._, because metals melt and flow by heat, therefore their
solidification was due to cold, and the juice underwent similar
treatment). As to the origin of these juices, some were generated by the
solution of their own particular substance, but in the main their origin
was due to the combination of "dry things," such as "earth," with water,
the mixture being heated, and the resultant metals depended upon the
proportions of "earth" and water. In some cases we have been inclined to
translate _succus_ (juice) as "solution," but in other cases it embraced
substances to which this would not apply, and we feared implying in the
text a chemical understanding not warranted prior to the atomic theory.
In order to distinguish between earths, (clays, etc.,) the Peripatetic
"earth" (a pure element) and the earth (the globe) we have given the two
former in quotation marks. There is no doubt some confusion between
earth (clays, etc.) and the Peripatetic "earth," as the latter was a
pure substance not found in its pristine form in nature; it is, however,
difficult to distinguish between the two.

ORIGIN OF CANALES (_De Ortu_, p. 35). "I now come to the _canales_ in
the earth. These are veins, veinlets, and what are called 'seams in the
rocks.' These serve as vessels or receptacles for the material from
which minerals (_res fossiles_) are formed. The term _vena_ is most
frequently given to what is contained in the _canales_, but likewise the
same name is applied to the _canales_ themselves. The term vein is
borrowed from that used for animals, for just as their veins are
distributed through all parts of the body, and just as by means of the
veins blood is diffused from the liver throughout the whole body, so
also the veins traverse the whole globe, and more particularly the
mountainous districts; and water runs and flows through them. With
regard to veinlets or stringers and 'seams in the rocks,' which are the
thinnest stringers, the following is the mode of their arrangement.
Veins in the earth, just like the veins of an animal, have certain
veinlets of their own, but in a contrary way. For the larger veins of
animals pour blood into the veinlets, while in the earth the humours are
usually poured from the veinlets into the larger veins, and rarely flow
from the larger into the smaller ones. As for the seams in the rocks
(_commissurae saxorum_) we consider that they are produced by two
methods: by the first, which is peculiar to themselves, they are formed
at the same time as the rocks, for the heat bakes the refractory
material into stone and the non-refractory material similarly heated
exhales its humours and is made into 'earth,' generally friable. The
other method is common also to veins and veinlets, when water is
collected into one place it softens the rock by its liquid nature, and
by its weight and pressure breaks and divides it. Now, if the rock is
hard, it makes seams in the rocks and veinlets, and if it is not too
hard it makes veins. However, if the rocks are not hard, seams and
veinlets are created as well as veins. If these do not carry a very
large quantity of water, or if they are pressed by a great volume of it,
they soon discharge themselves into the nearest veins. The following
appears to be the reason why some veinlets or stringers and veins are
_profundae_ and others _dilatatae_. The force of the water crushes and
splits the brittle rocks; and when they are broken and split, it forces
its way through them and passes on, at one time in a downward direction,
making small and large _venae profundae_, at another time in a lateral
direction, in which way _venae dilatatae_ are formed. Now since in each
class there are found some which are straight, some inclined, and some
crooked, it should be explained that the water makes the _vena profunda_
straight when it runs straight downward, inclined when it runs in an
inclined direction; and that it makes a _vena dilatata_ straight when it
runs horizontally to the right or left, and in a similar way inclined
when it runs in a sloping direction. Stringers and large veins of the
_profunda_ sort, extending for considerable lengths, become crooked from
two causes. In one case when narrow veins are intersected by wide ones,
then the latter bend or drag the former a little. In the other case,
when the water runs against very hard rock, being unable to break
through, it goes around the nearest way, and the stringers and veins are
formed bent and crooked. This last is also the reason we sometimes see
crooked small and large _venae dilatatae_, not unlike the gentle rise
and fall of flowing water. Next, _venae profundae_ are wide, either
because of abundant water or because the rock is fragile. On the other
hand, they are narrow, either because but little water flows and
trickles through them, or because the rock is very hard. The _venae
dilatatae_, too, for the same reasons, are either thin or thick. There
are other differences, too, in stringers and veins, which I will explain
in my work _De Re Metallica_.... There is also a third kind of vein
which, as it cannot be described as a wide _vena profunda_, nor as a
thick _vena dilatata_, we will call a _vena cumulata_. These are nothing
else than places where some species of mineral is accumulated; sometimes
exceeding in depth and also in length and breadth 600 feet; sometimes,
or rather generally, not so deep nor so long, nor so wide. These are
created when water has broken away the rock for such a length, breadth,
and thickness, and has flung aside and ejected the stones and sand from
the great cavern which is thus made; and afterward when the mouth is
obstructed and closed up, the whole cavern is filled with material from
which there is in time produced some one or more minerals. Now I have
stated when discoursing on the origin of subterranean humours, that
water erodes away substances inside the earth, just as it does those on
the surface, and least of all does it shun minerals; for which reason we
may daily see veinlets and veins sometimes filled with air and water,
but void and empty of mining products, and sometimes full of these same
materials. Even those which are empty of minerals become finally
obstructed, and when the rock is broken through at some other point the
water gushes out. It is certain that old springs are closed up in some
way and new ones opened in others. In the same manner, but much more
easily and quickly than in the solid rock, water produces stringers and
veins in surface material, whether it be in plains, hills, or mountains.
Of this kind are the stringers in the banks of rivers which produce
gold, and the veins which produce peculiar earth. So in this manner in
the earth are made _canales_ which bear minerals."

ORIGIN OF GROUND WATERS. (_De Ortu_ p. 5). "... Besides rain there is
another kind of water by which the interior of the earth is soaked, so
that being heated it can continually give off _halitus_, from which
arises a great and abundant force of waters." In description of the
_modus operandi_ of _halitum_, he says (p. 6): "... _Halitus_ rises to
the upper parts of the _canales_, where the congealing cold turns it
into water, which by its gravity and weight again runs down to the
lowest parts and increases the flow of water if there is any. If any
finds its way through a _canales dilatata_ the same thing happens, but
it is carried a long way from its place of origin. The first phase of
distillation teaches us how this water is produced, for when that which
is put into the ampulla is warmed it evaporates (_expirare_), and this
_halitus_ rising into the operculum is converted by cold into water,
which drips through the spout. In this way water is being continually
created underground." (_De Ortu_, p. 7): "And so we know from all this
that of the waters which are under the earth, some are collected from
rain, some arise from _halitus_ (steam), some from river-water, some
from sea-water; and we know that the _halitum_ is produced within the
earth partly from rain-water, partly from river-water, and partly from
sea-water." It would require too much space to set out Agricola's views
upon the origin of the subterranean heat which produced this steam. It
is an involved theory embracing clashing winds, burning bitumen, coal,
etc., and is fully set out in the latter part of Book II, _De Ortu et

ORIGIN OF GANGUE MINERALS. It is necessary to bear in mind that Agricola
divided minerals (_res fossiles_--"Things dug up," see note 4, p. 1)
into "earths," "solidified juices," "stones," "metals," and "compounds;"
and, further, to bear in mind that in his conception of the origin of
things generally, he was a disciple of the Peripatetic logic of a
"material substance" and an "efficient force," as mentioned above.

As to the origin of "earths," he says (_De Ortu_, p. 38): "Pure and
simple 'earth' originates in the _canales_ in the following way: rain
water, which is absorbed by the surface of the earth, first of all
penetrates and passes into the inner parts of the earth and mixes with
it; next, it is collected from all sides into stringers and veins, where
it, and sometimes water of other origin, erodes the 'earth' away,--a
great quantity of it if the stringers and veins are in 'earth,' a small
quantity if they are in rock. The softer the rock is, the more the water
wears away particles by its continual movement. To this class of rock
belongs limestone, from which we see chalk, clay, and marl, and other
unctuous 'earths' made; also sandstone, from which are made those barren
'earths' which we may see in ravines and on bare rocks. For the rain
softens limestone or sandstone and carries particles away with it, and
the sediment collects together and forms mud, which afterward solidifies
into some kind of 'earth.' In a similar way under the ground the power
of water softens the rock and dissolves the coarser fragments of stone.
This is clearly shown by the following circumstance, that frequently the
powder of rock or marble is found in a soft state and as if partly
dissolved. Now, the water carries this mixture into the course of some
underground _canalis_, or dragging it into narrow places, filters away.
And in each case the water flows away and a pure and uniform material is
left from which 'earth' is made.... Particles of rock, however, are only
by force of long time so softened by water as to become similar to
particles of 'earth.' It is possible to see 'earth' being made in this
way in underground _canales_ in the earth, when drifts or tunnels are
driven into the mountains, or when shafts are sunk, for then the
_canales_ are laid bare; also it can be seen above ground in ravines, as
I have said, or otherwise disclosed. For in both cases it is clear to
the eye that they are made out of the 'earth' or rocks, which are often
of the same colour. And in just the same way they are made in the
springs which the veins discharge. Since all those things which we see
with our eyes and which are perceived with our senses, are more clearly
understood than if they were learnt by means of reasoning, we deem it
sufficient to explain by this argument our view of the origin of
'earth.' In the manner which I have described, 'earths' originate in
veins and veinlets, seams in the rocks, springs, ravines, and other
openings, therefore all 'earths' are made in this way. As to those that
are found in underground _canales_ which do not appear to have been
derived from the earth or rock adjoining, these have undoubtedly been
carried by the water for a greater distance from their place of origin;
which may be made clear to anyone who seeks their source."

On the origin of solidified juices he states (_De Ortu_, p. 43): "I will
now speak of solidified juices (_succi concreti_). I give this name to
those minerals which are without difficulty resolved into liquids
(_humore_). Some stones and metals, even though they are themselves
composed of juices, have been compressed so solidly by the cold that
they can only be dissolved with difficulty or not at all.... For juices,
as I said above, are either made when dry substances immersed in
moisture are cooked by heat, or else they are made when water flows over
'earth,' or when the surrounding moisture corrodes metallic material; or
else they are forced out of the ground by the power of heat alone.
Therefore, solidified juices originate from liquid juices, which either
heat or cold have condensed. But that which heat has dried, fire reduces
to dust, and moisture dissolves. Not only does warm or cold water
dissolve certain solidified juices, but also humid air; and a juice
which the cold has condensed is liquefied by fire and warm water. A
salty juice is condensed into salt; a bitter one into soda; an
astringent and sharp one into alum or into vitriol. Skilled workmen in a
similar way to nature, evaporate water which contains juices of this
kind until it is condensed; from salty ones they make salt, from
aluminous ones alum, from one which contains vitriol they make vitriol.
These workmen imitate nature in condensing liquid juices with heat, but
they cannot imitate nature in condensing them by cold. From an
astringent juice not only is alum made and vitriol, but also _sory_,
_chalcitis_, and _misy_, which appears to be the 'flower' of vitriol,
just as _melanteria_ is of _sory_. (See note on p. 573 for these
minerals.) When humour corrodes pyrites so that it is friable, an
astringent juice of this kind is obtained."

ON THE ORIGIN OF STONES (_De Ortu_, p. 50), he states: "It is now
necessary to review in a few words what I have said as to all of the
material from which stones are made; there is first of all mud; next
juice which is solidified by severe cold; then fragments of rock;
afterward stone juice (_succus lapidescens_), which also turns to stone
when it comes out into the air; and lastly, everything which has pores
capable of receiving a stony juice." As to an "efficient force," he
states (p. 54): "But it is now necessary that I should explain my own
view, omitting the first and antecedent causes. Thus the immediate
causes are heat and cold; next in some way a stony juice. For we know
that stones which water has dissolved, are solidified when dried by
heat; and on the contrary, we know that stones which melt by fire, such
as quartz, solidify by cold. For solidification and the conditions which
are opposite thereto, namely, dissolving and liquefying, spring from
causes which are the opposite to each other. Heat, driving the water
(_humorem_) out of a substance, makes it hard; and cold, by withdrawing
the air, solidifies the same stone firmly. But if a stony juice, either
alone or mixed with water, finds its way into the pores either of plants
or animals ... it creates stones.... If stony juice is obtained in
certain stony places and flows through the veins, for this reason
certain springs, brooks, streams, and lakes, have the power of turning
things to stone."

ON THE ORIGIN OF METALS, he says (_De Ortu_, p. 71): "Having now refuted
the opinions of others, I must explain what it really is from which
metals are produced. The best proof that there is water in their
materials is the fact that they flow when melted, whereas they are again
solidified by the cold of air or water. This, however, must be
understood in the sense that there is more water in them and less
'earth'; for it is not simply water that is their substance but water
mixed with 'earth.' And such a proportion of 'earth' is in the mixture
as may obscure the transparency of the water, but not remove the
brilliance which is frequently in unpolished things. Again, the purer
the mixture, the more precious the metal which is made from it, and the
greater its resistance to fire. But what proportion of 'earth' is in
each liquid from which a metal is made no mortal can ever ascertain, or
still less explain, but the one God has known it, Who has given certain
sure and fixed laws to nature for mixing and blending things together.
It is a juice (_succus_) then, from which metals are formed; and this
juice is created by various operations. Of these operations the first is
a flow of water which softens the 'earth' or carries the 'earth' along
with it, thus there is a mixture of 'earth' and water, then the power of
heat works upon the mixtures so as to produce that kind of a juice. We
have spoken of the substance of metals; we must now speak of their
efficient cause.... (p. 75): We do not deny the statement of Albertus
Magnus that the mixture of 'earth' and water is baked by subterranean
heat to a certain denseness, but it is our opinion that the juice so
obtained is afterward solidified by cold so as to become a metal.... We
grant, indeed, that heat is the efficient cause of a good mixture of
elements, and also cooks this same mixture into a juice, but until this
juice is solidified by cold it is not a metal.... (p. 76): This view of
Aristotle is the true one. For metals melt through the heat and somehow
become softened; but those which have become softened through heat are
again solidified by the influence of cold, and, on the contrary, those
which become softened by moisture are solidified by heat."

ON THE ORIGIN OF COMPOUNDS, he states (_De Ortu_, p. 80): "There now
remain for our consideration the compound minerals (_mistae_), that is
to say, minerals which contain either solidified juice (_succus
concretus_) and 'stone,' or else metal or metals and 'stone,' or else
metal-coloured 'earth,' of which two or more have so grown together by
the action of cold that one body has been created. By this sign they are
distinguished from mixed minerals (_composita_), for the latter have not
one body. For example, pyrites, galena, and ruby silver are reckoned in
the category of compound minerals, whereas we say that metallic 'earths'
or stony 'earths' or 'earths' mingled with juices, are mixed minerals;
or similarly, stones in which metal or solidified juices adhere, or
which contain 'earth.' But of both these classes I will treat more fully
in my book _De Natura Fossilium_. I will now discuss their origin in a
few words. A compound mineral is produced when either a juice from which
some metal is obtained, or a _humour_ and some other juice from which
stone is obtained, are solidified by cold, or when two or more juices of
different metals mixed with the juice from which stone is made, are
condensed by the same cold, or when a metallic juice is mixed with
'earth' whose whole mass is stained with its colour, and in this way
they form one body. To the first class belongs _galena_, composed of
lead juice and of that material which forms the substance of opaque
stone. Similarly, transparent ruby silver is made out of silver juice
and the juice which forms the substance of transparent stone; when it is
smelted into pure silver, since from it is separated the transparent
juice, it is no longer transparent. Then too, there is pyrites, or
_lapis fissilis_, from which sulphur is melted. To the second kind
belongs that kind of pyrites which contains not only copper and stone,
but sometimes copper, silver, and stone; sometimes copper, silver, gold,
and stone; sometimes silver, lead, tin, copper and silver glance. That
compound minerals consist of stone and metal is sufficiently proved by
their hardness; that some are made of 'earth' and metal is proved from
brass, which is composed of copper and calamine; and also proved from
white brass, which is coloured by artificial white arsenic. Sometimes
the heat bakes some of them to such an extent that they appear to have
flowed out of blazing furnaces, which we may see in the case of _cadmia_
and pyrites. A metallic substance is produced out of 'earth' when a
metallic juice impregnating the 'earth' solidifies with cold, the
'earth' not being changed. A stony substance is produced when viscous
and non-viscous 'earth' are accumulated in one place and baked by heat;
for then the viscous part turns into stone and the non-viscous is only
dried up."

THE ORIGIN OF JUICES. The portion of Agricola's theory surrounding this
subject is by no means easy to follow in detail, especially as it is
difficult to adjust one's point of view to the Peripatetic elements,
fire, water, earth, and air, instead of to those of the atomic theory
which so dominates our every modern conception. That Agricola's 'juice'
was in most cases a solution is indicated by the statement (_De Ortu_,
p. 48): "Nor is juice anything but water, which on the other hand has
absorbed 'earth' or has corroded or touched metal and somehow become
heated." That he realized the difference between mechanical suspension
and solution is evident from (_De Ortu_, p. 50): "A stony juice differs
from water which has abraded something from rock, either because it has
more of that which deposits, or because heat, by cooking water of that
kind, has thickened it, or because there is something in it which has
powerful astringent properties." Much of the author's notion of juices
has already been given in the quotations regarding various minerals, but
his most general statement on the subject is as follows:--(_De Ortu_, p.
9): "Juices, however, are distinguished from water by their density
(_crassitudo_), and are generated in various ways--either when dry
things are soaked with moisture and the mixture is heated, in which way
by far the greatest part of juices arise, not only inside the earth, but
outside it; or when water running over the earth is made rather dense,
in which way, for the most part the juice becomes salty and bitter; or
when the moisture stands upon metal, especially copper, and corrodes it,
and in this way is produced the juice from which chrysocolla originates.
Similarly, when the moisture corrodes friable cupriferous pyrites an
acrid juice is made from which is produced vitriol and sometimes alum;
or, finally, juices are pressed out by the very force of the heat from
the earth. If the force is great the juice flows like pitch from burning
pine ... in this way we know a kind of bitumen is made in the earth. In
the same way different kinds of moisture are generated in living bodies,
so also the earth produces waters differing in quality, and in the same
way juices."

CONCLUSION. If we strip his theory of the necessary influence of the
state of knowledge of his time, and of his own deep classical learning,
we find two propositions original with Agricola, which still to-day are

(1) That ore channels were of origin subsequent to their containing
rocks; (2) That ores were deposited from solutions circulating in these
openings. A scientist's work must be judged by the advancement he gave
to his science, and with this gauge one can say unhesitatingly that the
theory which we have set out above represents a much greater step from
what had gone before than that of almost any single observer since.
Moreover, apart from any tangible proposition laid down, the deduction
of these views from actual observation instead of from fruitless
speculation was a contribution to the very foundation of natural
science. Agricola was wrong in attributing the creation of ore channels
to erosion alone, and it was not until Von Oppel (_Anleitung zur
Markscheidekunst_, Dresden, 1749 and other essays), two centuries after
Agricola, that the positive proposition that ore channels were due to
fissuring was brought forward. Von Oppel, however, in neglecting
channels due to erosion (and in this term we include solution) was not
altogether sound. Nor was it until late in the 18th century that the
filling of ore channels by deposition from solutions was generally
accepted. In the meantime, Agricola's successors in the study of ore
deposits exhibited positive retrogression from the true fundamentals
advocated by him. Gesner, Utman, Meier, Lohneys, Barba, Rössler, Becher,
Stahl, Henckel, and Zimmerman, all fail to grasp the double essentials.
Other writers of this period often enough merely quote Agricola, some
not even acknowledging the source, as, for instance, Pryce (_Mineralogia
Cornubiensis_, London, 1778) and Williams (Natural History of the
Mineral Kingdom, London, 1789). After Von Oppel, the two fundamental
principles mentioned were generally accepted, but then arose the
complicated and acrimonious discussion of the origin of solutions, and
nothing in Agricola's view was so absurd as Werner's contention (_Neue
Theorie von der Entstehung der Gänge_, Freiberg, 1791) of the universal
chemical deluge which penetrated fissures open at the surface. While it
is not the purpose of these notes to pursue the history of these
subjects subsequent to the author's time, it is due to him and to the
current beliefs as to the history of the theory of ore deposits, to call
the attention of students to the perverse representation of Agricola's
views by Werner (op. cit.) upon which most writers have apparently
relied. Why this author should be (as, for instance, by Posepny, Amer.
Inst. Mining Engineers, 1901) so generally considered the father of our
modern theory, can only be explained by a general lack of knowledge of
the work of previous writers on ore deposition. Not one of the
propositions original with Werner still holds good, while his rejection
of the origin of solutions within the earth itself halted the march of
advance in thought on these subjects for half a century. It is our hope
to discuss exhaustively at some future time the development of the
history of this, one of the most far-reaching of geologic hypotheses.

[2] The Latin _vena_, "vein," is also used by the author for ore; hence
this descriptive warning as to its intended double use.

[3] The endeavour to discover the origin of the compass with the
Chinese, Arabs, or other Orientals having now generally ceased, together
with the idea that the knowledge of the lodestone involved any
acquaintance with the compass, it is permissible to take a rational view
of the subject. The lodestone was well known even before Plato and
Aristotle, and is described by Theophrastus (see Note 10, p. 115.) The
first authentic and specific mention of the compass appears to be by
Alexander Neckam (an Englishman who died in 1217), in his works _De
Utensilibus_ and _De Naturis Rerum_. The first tangible description of
the instrument was in a letter to Petrus Peregrinus de Maricourt,
written in 1269, a translation of which was published by Sir Sylvanus
Thompson (London, 1902). His circle was divided into four quadrants and
these quarters divided into 90 degrees each. The first mention of a
compass in connection with mines so far as we know is in the _Nützlich
Bergbüchlin_, a review of which will be found in Appendix B. This book,
which dates from 1500, gives a compass much like the one described above
by Agricola. It is divided in like manner into two halves of 12
divisions each. The four cardinal points being marked _Mitternacht_,
_Morgen_, _Mittag_, and _Abend_. Thus the directions read were referred
to as II. after midnight, etc. According to Joseph Carne (Trans. Roy.
Geol. Socy. of Cornwall, Vol. II, 1814), the Cornish miners formerly
referred to North-South veins as 12 o'clock veins; South-East North-West
veins as 9 o'clock veins, etc.

[4] _Crudariis._ Pliny (XXXIII., 31), says:--"_Argenti vena in summo
reperta crudaria appellatur._" "Silver veins discovered at the surface
are called _crudaria._" The German translator of Agricola uses the term
_sylber gang_--silver vein, obviously misunderstanding the author's

[5] It might be considered that the term "outcrop" could be used for
"head," but it will be noticed that a _vena dilatata_ would thus be
stated to have no outcrop.

[6] It is possible that "veinlets" would be preferred by purists, but
the word "stringer" has become fixed in the nomenclature of miners and
we have adopted it. The old English term was "stringe," and appears in
Edward Manlove's "Rhymed Chronicle," London, 1653; Pryce's, _Mineralogia
Cornubiensis_, London, 1778, pp. 103 and 329; Mawe's "Mineralogy of
Devonshire," London, 1802, p. 210, etc., etc.

[7] _Subdialis._ "In the open air." The Glossary gives the meaning as
_Ein tag klufft oder tag gehenge_--a surface stringer.

[8] The following from Chapter IV of the _Nützlich Bergbüchlin_ (see
Appendix B) may indicate the source of the theory which Agricola here
discards:--"As to those veins which are most profitable to work, it must
be remarked that the most suitable location for the vein is on the slope
of the mountain facing south, so its strike is from VII or VI east to VI
or VII west. According to the above-mentioned directions, the outcrop of
the whole vein should face north, its _gesteins ausgang_ toward the
east, its hangingwall toward the south, and its footwall toward the
north, for in such mountains and veins the influence of the planets is
conveniently received to prepare the matter out of which the silver is
to be made or formed.... The other strikes of veins from between east
and south to the region between west and north are esteemed more or less
valuable, according to whether they are nearer or further away from the
above-mentioned strikes, but with the same hangingwall, footwall, and
outcrops. But the veins having their strike from north to south, their
hangingwall toward the west, their footwall and their outcrops toward
the east, are better to work than veins which extend from south to
north, whose hangingwalls are toward the east, and footwalls and
outcrops toward the west. Although the latter veins sometimes yield
solid and good silver ore, still it is not sure and certain, because the
whole mineral force is completely scattered and dispersed through the
outcrop, etc."

[9] The names in the Latin are given as _Donum Divinum_--"God's Gift,"
and _Coelestis Exercitus_--"Heavenly Host." The names given in the text
are from the German Translation. The former of these mines was located
in the valley of Joachim, where Agricola spent many years as the town
physician at Joachimsthal. It is of further interest, as Agricola
obtained an income from it as a shareholder. He gives the history of the
mine (_De Veteribus et Novis Metallis_, Book I.), as follows:--"The
mines at Abertham were discovered, partly by chance, partly by science.
In the eleventh year of Charles V. (1530), on the 18th of February, a
poor miner, but one skilled in the art of mining, dwelt in the middle of
the forest in a solitary hut, and there tended the cattle of his
employer. While digging a little trench in which to store milk, he
opened a vein. At once he washed some in a bowl and saw particles of the
purest silver settled at the bottom. Overcome with joy he informed his
employer, and went to the _Bergmeister_ and petitioned that official to
give him a head mining lease, which in the language of our people he
called _Gottsgaab_. Then he proceeded to dig the vein, and found more
fragments of silver, and the miners were inspired with great hopes as to
the richness of the vein. Although such hopes were not frustrated, still
a whole year was spent before they received any profits from the mine;
whereby many became discouraged and did not persevere in paying
expenses, but sold their shares in the mine; and for this reason, when
at last an abundance of silver was being drawn out, a great change had
taken place in the ownership of the mine; nay, even the first finder of
the vein was not in possession of any share in it, and had spent nearly
all the money which he had obtained from the selling of his shares. Then
this mine yielded such a quantity of pure silver as no other mine that
has existed within our own or our fathers' memories, with the exception
of the St. George at Schneeberg. We, as a shareholder, through the
goodness of God, have enjoyed the proceeds of this 'God's Gift' since
the very time when the mine began first to bestow such riches." Later on
in the same book he gives the following further information with regard
to these mines:--"Now if all the individual mines which have proved
fruitful in our own times are weighed in the balance, the one at
Annaberg, which is known as the _Himmelsch hoz_, surpasses all others.
For the value of the silver which has been dug out has been estimated at
420,000 Rhenish gulden. Next to this comes the lead mine in
Joachimsthal, whose name is the _Sternen_, from which as much silver has
been dug as would be equivalent to 350,000 Rhenish gulden; from the
Gottsgaab at Abertham, explained before, the equivalent of 300,000. But
far before all others within our fathers' memory stands the St. George
of Schneeberg, whose silver has been estimated as being equal to two
million Rhenish gulden." A Rhenish gulden was about 6.9 shillings, or,
say, $1.66. However, the ratio value of silver to gold at this period
was about 11.5 to one, or in other words an ounce of silver was worth
about a gulden, so that, for purposes of rough calculation, one might
say that the silver product mentioned in gulden is practically of the
same number of ounces of silver. Moreover, it must be remembered that
the purchasing power of money was vastly greater then.

[10] The following passage occurs in the _Nützlich Bergbüchlin_ (Chap.
V.), which is interesting on account of the great similarity to
Agricola's quotation:--"The best position of the stream is when it has a
cliff beside it on the north and level ground on the south, but its
current should be from east to west--that is the most suitable. The next
best after this is from west to east, with the same position of the
rocks as already stated. The third in order is when the stream flows
from north to south with rocks toward the east, but the worst flow of
water for the preparation of gold is from south to north if a rock or
hill rises toward the west." Calbus was probably the author of this

[11] Albertus Magnus.


The third book has explained the various and manifold varieties of veins
and stringers. This fourth book will deal with mining areas and the
method of delimiting them, and will then pass on to the officials who
are connected with mining affairs[1].

Now the miner, if the vein he has uncovered is to his liking, first of
all goes to the _Bergmeister_ to request to be granted a right to mine,
this official's special function and office being to adjudicate in
respect of the mines. And so to the first man who has discovered the
vein the _Bergmeister_ awards the head meer, and to others the remaining
meers, in the order in which each makes his application. The size of a
meer is measured by fathoms, which for miners are reckoned at six feet
each. The length, in fact, is that of a man's extended arms and hands
measured across his chest; but different peoples assign to it different
lengths, for among the Greeks, who called it an [Greek: orguia], it was
six feet, among the Romans five feet. So this measure which is used by
miners seems to have come down to the Germans in accordance with the
Greek mode of reckoning. A miner's foot approaches very nearly to the
length of a Greek foot, for it exceeds it by only three-quarters of a
Greek digit, but like that of the Romans it is divided into twelve

[Illustration 79a (Square with lengths and area): Shape of a Square

Now square fathoms are reckoned in units of one, two, three, or more
"measures", and a "measure" is seven fathoms each way. Mining meers are
for the most part either square or elongated; in square meers all the
sides are of equal length, therefore the numbers of fathoms on the two
sides multiplied together produce the total in square fathoms. Thus, if
the shape of a "measure" is seven fathoms on every side, this number
multiplied by itself makes forty-nine square fathoms.

[Illustration 79b (Rectangle with lengths and area): Shape of a Long
Meer or Double Measure.]

The sides of a long meer are of equal length, and similarly its ends are
equal; therefore, if the number of fathoms in one of the long sides be
multiplied by the number of fathoms in one of the ends, the total
produced by the multiplication is the total number of square fathoms in
the long meer. For example, the double measure is fourteen fathoms long
and seven broad, which two numbers multiplied together make ninety-eight
square fathoms.

[Illustration 79c (Rectangle with lengths and area): Shape of a Head

Since meers vary in shape according to the different varieties of veins
it is necessary for me to go more into detail concerning them and their
measurements. If the vein is a _vena profunda_, the head meer is
composed of three double measures, therefore it is forty-two fathoms in
length and seven in width, which numbers multiplied together give two
hundred and ninety-four square fathoms, and by these limits the
_Bergmeister_ bounds the owner's rights in a head-meer.

[Illustration 80a (Rectangle with lengths and area): Shape of a Meer.]

The area of every other meer consists of two double measures, on
whichever side of the head meer it lies, or whatever its number in order
may be, that is to say, whether next to the head meer, or second, third,
or any later number. Therefore, it is twenty-eight fathoms long and
seven wide, so multiplying the length by the width we get one hundred
and ninety-six square fathoms, which is the extent of the meer, and by
these boundaries the _Bergmeister_ defines the right of the owner or
company over each mine.

Now we call that part of the vein which is first discovered and mined,
the head-meer, because all the other meers run from it, just as the
nerves from the head. The _Bergmeister_ begins his measurements from it,
and the reason why he apportions a larger area to the head-meer than to
the others, is that he may give a suitable reward to the one who first
found the vein and may encourage others to search for veins. Since meers
often reach to a torrent, or river, or stream, if the last meer cannot
be completed it is called a fraction[3]. If it is the size of a double
measure, the _Bergmeister_ grants the right of mining it to him who
makes the first application, but if it is the size of a single measure
or a little over, he divides it between the nearest meers on either side
of it. It is the custom among miners that the first meer beyond a stream
on that part of the vein on the opposite side is a new head-meer, and
they call it the "opposite,"[4] while the other meers beyond are only
ordinary meers. Formerly every head-meer was composed of three double
measures and one single one, that is, it was forty-nine fathoms long and
seven wide, and so if we multiply these two together we have three
hundred and forty-three square fathoms, which total gives us the area of
an ancient head-meer.

[Illustration 80b (Rectangle with lengths and area): Shape of an ancient

Every ancient meer was formed of a single measure, that is to say, it
was seven fathoms in length and width, and was therefore square. In
memory of which miners even now call the width of every meer which is
located on a _vena profunda_ a "square"[5]. The following was formerly
the usual method of delimiting a vein: as soon as the miner found
metal, he gave information to the _Bergmeister_ and the tithe-gatherer,
who either proceeded personally from the town to the mountains, or sent
thither men of good repute, at least two in number, to inspect the
metal-bearing vein. Thereupon, if they thought it of sufficient
importance to survey, the _Bergmeister_ again having gone forth on an
appointed day, thus questioned him who first found the vein, concerning
the vein and the diggings: "Which is your vein?" "Which digging carried
metal?" Then the discoverer, pointing his finger to his vein and
diggings, indicated them, and next the _Bergmeister_ ordered him to
approach the windlass and place two fingers of his right hand upon his
head, and swear this oath in a clear voice: "I swear by God and all the
Saints, and I call them all to witness, that this is my vein; and
moreover if it is not mine, may neither this my head nor these my hands
henceforth perform their functions." Then the _Bergmeister_, having
started from the centre of the windlass, proceeded to measure the vein
with a cord, and to give the measured portion to the discoverer,--in the
first instance a half and then three full measures; afterward one to the
King or Prince, another to his Consort, a third to the Master of the
Horse, a fourth to the Cup-bearer, a fifth to the Groom of the Chamber,
a sixth to himself. Then, starting from the other side of the windlass,
he proceeded to measure the vein in a similar manner. Thus the
discoverer of the vein obtained the head-meer, that is, seven single
measures; but the King or Ruler, his Consort, the leading dignitaries,
and lastly, the _Bergmeister_, obtained two measures each, or two
ancient meers. This is the reason there are to be found at Freiberg in
Meissen so many shafts with so many intercommunications on a single
vein--which are to a great extent destroyed by age. If, however, the
_Bergmeister_ had already fixed the boundaries of the meers on one side
of the shaft for the benefit of some other discoverer, then for those
dignitaries I have just mentioned, as many meers as he was unable to
award on that side he duplicated on the other. But if on both sides of
the shaft he had already defined the boundaries of meers, he proceeded
to measure out only that part of the vein which remained free, and thus
it sometimes happened that some of those persons I have mentioned
obtained no meer at all. To-day, though that old-established custom is
observed, the method of allotting the vein and granting title has been
changed. As I have explained above, the head-meer consists of three
double measures, and each other meer of two measures, and the
_Bergmeister_ grants one each of the meers to him who makes the first
application. The King or Prince, since all metal is taxed, is himself
content with that, which is usually one-tenth.

Of the width of every meer, whether old or new, one-half lies on the
footwall side of a _vena profunda_ and one half on the hangingwall side.
If the vein descends vertically into the earth, the boundaries similarly
descend vertically; but if the vein inclines, the boundaries likewise
will be inclined. The owner always holds the mining right for the width
of the meer, however far the vein descends into the depth of the
earth.[6] Further, the _Bergmeister_, on application being made to him,
grants to one owner or company a right over not only the head meer, or
another meer, but also the head meer and the next meer or two adjoining
meers. So much for the shape of meers and their dimensions in the case
of a _vena profunda_.

I now come to the case of _venae dilatatae_. The boundaries of the areas
on such veins are not all measured by one method. For in some places
the _Bergmeister_ gives them shapes similar to the shapes of the meers
on _venae profundae_, in which case the head-meer is composed of three
double measures, and the area of every other mine of two measures, as I
have explained more fully above. In this case, however, he measures the
meers with a cord, not only forward and backward from the ends of the
head-meer, as he is wont to do in the case where the owner of a _vena
profunda_ has a meer granted him, but also from the sides. In this way
meers are marked out when a torrent or some other force of Nature has
laid open a _vena dilatata_ in a valley, so that it appears either on
the slope of a mountain or hill or on a plain. Elsewhere the
_Bergmeister_ doubles the width of the head-meer and it is made fourteen
fathoms wide, while the width of each of the other meers remains single,
that is seven fathoms, but the length is not defined by boundaries. In
some places the head-meer consists of three double measures, but has a
width of fourteen fathoms and a length of twenty-one.

[Illustration 86a (Rectangle with lengths): Shape of a Head-Meer.]

[Illustration 86b (Square with lengths): Shape of every other Meer.]

In the same way, every other meer is composed of two measures, doubled
in the same fashion, so that it is fourteen fathoms in width and of the
same length.

Elsewhere every meer, whether a head-meer or other meer, comprises
forty-two fathoms in width and as many in length.

In other places the _Bergmeister_ gives the owner or company all of some
locality defined by rivers or little valleys as boundaries. But the
boundaries of every such area of whatsoever shape it be, descend
vertically into the earth; so the owner of that area has a right over
that part of any _vena dilatata_ which lies beneath the first one, just
as the owner of the meer on a _vena profunda_ has a right over so great
a part of all other _venae profundae_ as lies within the boundaries of
his meer; for just as wherever one _vena profunda_ is found, another is
found not far away, so wherever one _vena dilatata_ is found, others are
found beneath it.

Finally, the _Bergmeister_ divides _vena cumulata_ areas in different
ways, for in some localities the head-meer is composed of three
measures, doubled in such a way that it is fourteen fathoms wide and
twenty-one long; and every other meer consists of two measures doubled,
and is square, that is, fourteen fathoms wide and as many long. In some
places the head-meer is composed of three single measures, and its width
is seven fathoms and its length twenty-one, which two numbers multiplied
together make one hundred and forty-seven square fathoms.

[Illustration 87 (Rectangle with lengths and area): Shape of a

Each other meer consists of one double measure. In some places the
head-meer is given the shape of a double measure, and every other meer
that of a single measure. Lastly, in other places the owner or a company
is given a right over some complete specified locality bounded by little
streams, valleys, or other limits. Furthermore, all meers on _venae
cumulatae_, as in the case of _dilatatae_, descend vertically into the
depths of the earth, and each meer has the boundaries so determined as
to prevent disputes arising between the owners of neighbouring mines.

The boundary marks in use among miners formerly consisted only of
stones, and from this their name was derived, for now the marks of a
boundary are called "boundary stones." To-day a row of posts, made
either of oak or pine, and strengthened at the top with iron rings to
prevent them from being damaged, is fixed beside the boundary stones to
make them more conspicuous. By this method in former times the
boundaries of the fields were marked by stones or posts, not only as
written of in the book "_De Limitibus Agrorum_,"[7] but also as
testified to by the songs of the poets. Such then is the shape of the
meers, varying in accordance with the different kinds of veins.

Now tunnels are of two sorts, one kind having no right of property, the
other kind having some limited right. For when a miner in some
particular locality is unable to open a vein on account of a great
quantity of water, he runs a wide ditch, open at the top and three feet
deep, starting on the slope and running up to the place where the vein
is found. Through it the water flows off, so that the place is made dry
and fit for digging. But if it is not sufficiently dried by this open
ditch, or if a shaft which he has now for the first time begun to sink
is suffering from overmuch water, he goes to the _Bergmeister_ and asks
that official to give him the right for a tunnel. Having obtained leave,
he drives the tunnel, and into its drains all the water is diverted, so
that the place or shaft is made fit for digging. If it is not seven
fathoms from the surface of the earth to the bottom of this kind of
tunnel, the owner possesses no rights except this one: namely, that the
owners of the mines, from whose leases the owner of the tunnel extracts
gold or silver, themselves pay him the sum he expends within their meer
in driving the tunnel through it.

To a depth or height of three and a half fathoms above and below the
mouth of the tunnel, no one is allowed to begin another tunnel. The
reason for this is that this kind of a tunnel is liable to be changed
into the other kind which has a complete right of property, when it
drains the meers to a depth of seven fathoms, or to ten, according as
the old custom in each place acquires the force of law. In such case
this second kind of tunnel has the following right; in the first place,
whatever metal the owner, or company owning it, finds in any meer
through which it is driven, all belongs to the tunnel owner within a
height or depth of one and a quarter fathoms. In the years which are not
long passed, the owner of a tunnel possessed all the metal which a miner
standing at the bottom of the tunnel touched with a bar, whose handle
did not exceed the customary length; but nowadays a certain prescribed
height and width is allowed to the owner of the tunnel, lest the owners
of the mines be damaged, if the length of the bar be longer than usual.
Further, every metal-yielding mine which is drained and supplied with
ventilation by a tunnel, is taxed in the proportion of one-ninth for the
benefit of the owner of the tunnel. But if several tunnels of this kind
are driven through one mining area which is yielding metals, and all
drain it and supply it with ventilation, then of the metal which is dug
out from above the bottom of each tunnel, one-ninth is given to the
owner of that tunnel; of that which is dug out below the bottom of each
tunnel, one-ninth is in each case given to the owner of the tunnel which
follows next in order below. But if the lower tunnel does not yet drain
the shaft of that meer nor supply it with ventilation, then of the metal
which is dug out below the bottom of the higher tunnel, one-ninth part
is given to the owner of such upper tunnel. Moreover, no one tunnel
deprives another of its right to one-ninth part, unless it be a lower
one, from the bottom of which to the bottom of the one above must not be
less than seven or ten fathoms, according as the king or prince has
decreed. Further, of all the money which the owner of the tunnel has
spent on his tunnel while driving it through a meer, the owner of that
meer pays one-fourth part. If he does not do so he is not allowed to
make use of the drains.

Finally, with regard to whatever veins are discovered by the owner at
whose expense the tunnel is driven, the right of which has not been
already awarded to anyone, on the application of such owner the
_Bergmeister_ grants him a right of a head-meer, or of a head-meer
together with the next meer. Ancient custom gives the right for a tunnel
to be driven in any direction for an unlimited length. Further, to-day
he who commences a tunnel is given, on his application, not only the
right over the tunnel, but even the head and sometimes the next meer
also. In former days the owner of the tunnel obtained only so much
ground as an arrow shot from the bow might cover, and he was allowed to
pasture cattle therein. In a case where the shafts of several meers on
some vein could not be worked on account of the great quantity of water,
ancient custom also allowed the _Bergmeister_ to grant the right of a
large meer to anyone who would drive a tunnel. When, however, he had
driven a tunnel as far as the old shafts and had found metal, he used to
return to the _Bergmeister_ and request him to bound and mark off the
extent of his right to a meer. Thereupon, the _Bergmeister_, together
with a certain number of citizens of the town--in whose place Jurors
have now succeeded--used to proceed to the mountain and mark off with
boundary stones a large meer, which consisted of seven double measures,
that is to say, it was ninety-eight fathoms long and seven wide, which
two numbers multiplied together make six hundred and eighty-six square

[Illustration 89 (Rectangle with lengths and area): Large Area.]

But each of these early customs has been changed, and we now employ the
new method.

I have spoken of tunnels; I will now speak about the division of
ownership in mines and tunnels. One owner is allowed to possess and to
work one, two, three, or more whole meers, or similarly one or more
separate tunnels, provided he conforms to the decrees of the laws
relating to metals, and to the orders of the _Bergmeister_. And because
he alone provides the expenditure of money on the mines, if they yield
metal he alone obtains the product from them. But when large and
frequent expenditures are necessary in mining, he to whom the
_Bergmeister_ first gave the right often admits others to share with
him, and they join with him in forming a company, and they each lay out
a part of the expense and share with him the profit or loss of the mine.
But the title of the mines or tunnels remains undivided, although for
the purpose of dividing the expense and profit it may be said each mine
or tunnel is divided into parts[8].

This division is made in various ways. A mine, and the same thing must
be understood with regard to a tunnel, may be divided into two halves,
that is into two similar portions, by which method two owners spend an
equal amount on it and draw an equal profit from it, for each possesses
one half. Sometimes it is divided into four shares, by which compact
four persons can be owners, so that each possesses one-fourth, or also
two persons, so that one possesses three-fourths, and the other only
one-fourth; or three owners, so that the first has two-fourths, and the
second and third one-fourth each. Sometimes it is divided into eight
shares, by which plan there may be eight owners, so that each is
possessor of one-eighth; sometimes there are two owners, so that one has
five-sixths[9] together with one twenty-fourth, and the other
one-eighth; or there may be three owners, in which one has
three-quarters and the second and third each one-eighth; or it may be
divided so that one owner has seven-twelfths, together with one
twenty-fourth, a second owner has one-quarter, and a third owner has
one-eighth; or so that the first has one-half, the second one-third and
one twenty-fourth, and the third one-eighth; or so that the first has
one-half, as before, and the second and third each one-quarter; or so
that the first and second each have one-third and one twenty-fourth, and
the third one-quarter; and in the same way the divisions may be adjusted
in all the other proportions. The different ways of dividing the shares
originate from the different proportions of ownership. Sometimes a mine
is divided into sixteen parts, each of which is a twenty-fourth and a
forty-eighth; or it may be divided into thirty-two parts, each of which
is a forty-eighth and half a seventy-second and a two hundred and
eighty-eighth; or into sixty-four parts of which each share is one
seventy-second and one five hundred and seventy-sixth; or finally, into
one hundred and twenty-eight parts, any one of which is half a
seventy-second and half of one five hundred and seventy-sixth.

Now an iron mine either remains undivided or is divided into two, four,
or occasionally more shares, which depends on the excellence of the
veins. But a lead, bismuth, or tin mine, and likewise one of copper or
even quicksilver, is also divided into eight shares, or into sixteen or
thirty-two, and less commonly into sixty-four. The number of the
divisions of the silver mines at Freiberg in Meissen did not formerly
progress beyond this; but within the memory of our fathers, miners have
divided a silver mine, and similarly the tunnel at Schneeberg, first of
all into one hundred and twenty-eight shares, of which one hundred and
twenty-six are the property of private owners in the mines or tunnels,
one belongs to the State and one to the Church; while in Joachimsthal
only one hundred and twenty-two shares of the mines or tunnels are the
property of private owners, four are proprietary shares, and the State
and Church each have one in the same way. To these there has lately been
added in some places one share for the most needy of the population,
which makes one hundred and twenty-nine shares. It is only the private
owners of mines who pay contributions. A proprietary holder, though he
holds as many as four shares such as I have described, does not pay
contributions, but gratuitiously supplies the owners of the mines with
sufficient wood from his forests for timbering, machinery, buildings,
and smelting; nor do those belonging to the State, Church, and the poor
pay contributions, but the proceeds are used to build or repair public
works and sacred buildings, and to support the most needy with the
profits which they draw from the mines. Furthermore, in our State, the
one hundred and twenty-eighth share has begun to be divided into two,
four, or eight parts, or even into three, six, twelve, or smaller parts.
This is done when one mine is created out of two, for then the owner who
formerly possessed one-half becomes owner of one-fourth; he who
possessed one-fourth, of one-eighth; he who possessed one-third, of
one-sixth; he who possessed one-sixth, of one-twelfth. Since our
countrymen call a mine a _symposium_, that is, a drinking bout, we are
accustomed to call the money which the owners subscribe a _symbolum_, or
a contribution[10]. For, just as those who go to a banquet (_symposium_)
give contributions (_symbola_), so those who purpose making large
profits from mining are accustomed to contribute toward the expenditure.
However, the manager of the mine assesses the contributions of the
owners annually, or for the most part quarterly, and as often he renders
an account of receipts and expenses. At Freiberg in Meissen the old
practice was for the manager to exact a contribution from the owners
every week, and every week to distribute among them the profits of the
mines, but this practice during almost the last fifteen years has been
so far changed that contribution and distribution are made four[11]
times each year. Large or small contributions are imposed according to
the number of workmen which the mine or tunnel requires; as a result,
those who possess many shares provide many contributions. Four times a
year the owners contribute to the cost, and four times during the year
the profits of the mines are distributed among them; these are sometimes
large, sometimes small, according as there is more or less gold or
silver or other metal dug out. Indeed, from the St. George mine in
Schneeberg the miners extracted so much silver in a quarter of a year
that silver cakes, which were worth 1,100 Rhenish guldens, were
distributed to each one hundred and twenty-eighth share. From the
Annaberg mine which is known as the Himmelisch Höz, they had a dole of
eight hundred thaler; from a mine in Joachimsthal which is named the
Sternen, three hundred thaler; from the head mine at Abertham, which is
called St. Lorentz, two hundred and twenty-five thaler[12]. The more
shares of which any individual is owner the more profits he takes.

I will now explain how the owners may lose or obtain the right over a
mine, or a tunnel, or a share. Formerly, if anyone was able to prove by
witnesses that the owners had failed to send miners for three continuous
shifts[13], the _Bergmeister_ deprived them of their right over the
mine, and gave the right over it to the informer, if he desired it. But
although miners preserve this custom to-day, still mining share owners
who have paid their contributions do not lose their right over their
mines against their will. Formerly, if water which had not been drawn
off from the higher shaft of some mine percolated through a vein or
stringer into the shaft of another mine and impeded their work, then the
owners of the mine which suffered the damage went to the _Bergmeister_
and complained of the loss, and he sent to the shafts two Jurors. If
they found that matters were as claimed, the right over the mine which
caused the injury was given to the owners who suffered the injury. But
this custom in certain places has been changed, for the _Bergmeister_,
if he finds this condition of things proved in the case of two shafts,
orders the owners of the shaft which causes the injury to contribute
part of the expense to the owners of the shaft which receives the
injury; if they fail to do so, he then deprives them of their right over
their mine; on the other hand, if the owners send men to the workings to
dig and draw off the water from the shafts, they keep their right over
their mine. Formerly owners used to obtain a right over any tunnel,
firstly, if in its bottom they made drains and cleansed them of mud and
sand so that the water might flow out without any hindrance, and
restored those drains which had been damaged; secondly, if they provided
shafts or openings to supply the miners with air, and restored those
which had fallen in; and finally, if three miners were employed
continuously in driving the tunnel. But the principal reason for losing
the title to a tunnel was that for a period of eight days no miner was
employed upon it; therefore, when anyone was able to prove by witnesses
that the owners of a tunnel had not done these things, he brought his
accusation before the _Bergmeister_, who, after going out from the town
to the tunnel and inspecting the drains and the ventilating machines and
everything else, and finding the charge to be true, placed the witness
under oath, and asked him: "Whose tunnel is this at the present time?"
The witness would reply: "The King's" or "The Prince's." Thereupon the
_Bergmeister_ gave the right over the tunnel to the first applicant.
This was the severe rule under which the owners at one time lost their
rights over a tunnel; but its severity is now considerably mitigated,
for the owners do not now forthwith lose their right over a tunnel
through not having cleaned out the drains and restored the shafts or
ventilation holes which have suffered damage; but the _Bergmeister_
orders the tunnel manager to do it, and if he does not obey, the
authorities fine the tunnel. Also it is sufficient for one miner to be
engaged in driving the tunnel. Moreover, if the owner of a tunnel sets
boundaries at a fixed spot in the rocks and stops driving the tunnel, he
may obtain a right over it so far as he has gone, provided the drains
are cleaned out and ventilation holes are kept in repair. But any other
owner is allowed to start from the established mark and drive the tunnel
further, if he pays the former owners of the tunnel as much money every
three months as the _Bergmeister_ decides ought to be paid.

There remain for discussion, the shares in the mines and tunnels.
Formerly if anybody conveyed these shares to anyone else, and the latter
had once paid his contribution, the seller[14] was bound to stand by his
bargain, and this custom to-day has the force of law. But if the seller
denied that the contribution had been paid, while the buyer of the
shares declared that he could prove by witnesses that he had paid his
contribution to the other proprietors, and a case arose for trial, then
the evidence of the other proprietors carried more weight than the oath
of the seller. To-day the buyer of the shares proves that he has paid
his contribution by a document which the mine or tunnel manager always
gives each one; if the buyer has contributed no money there is no
obligation on the seller to keep his bargain. Formerly, as I have said
above, the proprietors used to contribute money weekly, but now
contributions are paid four times each year. To-day, if for the space of
a month anyone does not take proceedings against the seller of the
shares for the contribution, the right of taking proceedings is lost.
But when the Clerk has already entered on the register the shares which
had been conveyed or bought, none of the owners loses his right over the
share unless the money is not contributed which the manager of the mine
or tunnel has demanded from the owner or his agent. Formerly, if on the
application of the manager the owner or his agent did not pay, the
matter was referred to the _Bergmeister_, who ordered the owner or his
agent to make his contribution; then if he failed to contribute for
three successive weeks, the _Bergmeister_ gave the right to his shares
to the first applicant. To-day this custom is unchanged, for if owners
fail for the space of a month to pay the contributions which the manager
of the mine has imposed on them, on a stated day their names are
proclaimed aloud and struck off the list of owners, in the presence of
the _Bergmeister_, the Jurors, the Mining Clerk, and the Share Clerk,
and each of such shares is entered on the proscribed list. If, however,
on the third, or at latest the fourth day, they pay their contributions
to the manager of the mine or tunnel, and pay the money which is due
from them to the Share Clerk, he removes their shares from the
proscribed list. They are not thereupon restored to their former
position unless the other owners consent; in which respect the custom
now in use differs from the old practice, for to-day if the owners of
shares constituting anything over half the mine consent to the
restoration of those who have been proscribed, the others are obliged to
consent whether they wish to or not. Formerly, unless such restoration
had been sanctioned by the approval of the owners of one hundred shares,
those who had been proscribed were not restored to their former

The procedure in suits relating to shares was formerly as follows: he
who instituted a suit and took legal proceedings against another in
respect of the shares, used to make a formal charge against the accused
possessor before the _Bergmeister_. This was done either at his house or
in some public place or at the mines, once each day for three days if
the shares belonged to an old mine, and three times in eight days if
they belonged to a head-meer. But if he could not find the possessor of
the shares in these places, it was valid and effectual to make the
accusation against him at the house of the _Bergmeister_. When, however,
he made the charge for the third time, he used to bring with him a
notary, whom the _Bergmeister_ would interrogate: "Have I earned the
fee?" and who would respond: "You have earned it"; thereupon the
_Bergmeister_ would give the right over the shares to him who made the
accusation, and the accuser in turn would pay down the customary fee to
the _Bergmeister_. After these proceedings, if the man whom the
_Bergmeister_ had deprived of his shares dwelt in the city, one of the
proprietors of the mine or of the head-mine was sent to him to acquaint
him with the facts, but if he dwelt elsewhere proclamation was made in
some public place, or at the mine, openly and in a loud voice in the
hearing of numbers of miners. Nowadays a date is defined for the one who
is answerable for the debt of shares or money, and information is given
the accused by an official if he is near at hand, or if he is absent, a
letter is sent him; nor is the right over his shares taken from anyone
for the space of one and a half months. So much for these matters.

Now, before I deal with the methods which must be employed in working, I
will speak of the duties of the Mining Prefect, the _Bergmeister_, the
Jurors, the Mining Clerk, the Share Clerk, the manager of the mine or
tunnel, the foreman of the mine or tunnel, and the workmen.

To the Mining Prefect, whom the King or Prince appoints as his deputy,
all men of all races, ages, and rank, give obedience and submission. He
governs and regulates everything at his discretion, ordering those
things which are useful and advantageous in mining operations, and
prohibiting those which are to the contrary. He levies penalties and
punishes offenders; he arranges disputes which the _Bergmeister_ has
been unable to settle, and if even he cannot arrange them, he allows the
owners who are at variance over some point to proceed to litigation; he
even lays down the law, gives orders as a magistrate, or bids them
leave their rights in abeyance, and he determines the pay of persons who
hold any post or office. He is present in person when the mine managers
present their quarterly accounts of profits and expenses, and generally
represents the King or Prince and upholds his dignity. The Athenians in
this way set Thucydides, the famous historian, over the mines of

Next in power to the Mining Prefect comes the _Bergmeister_, since he
has jurisdiction over all who are connected with mines, with a few
exceptions, which are the Tithe Gatherer, the Cashier, the Silver
Refiner, the Master of the Mint, and the Coiners themselves. Fraudulent,
negligent, or dissolute men he either throws into prison, or deprives of
promotion, or fines; of these fines, part is given as a tribute to those
in power. When the mine owners have a dispute over boundaries he
arbitrates it; or if he cannot settle the dispute, he pronounces
judgment jointly with the Jurors; from them, however, an appeal lies to
the Mining Prefect. He transcribes his decrees in a book and sets up the
records in public. It is also his duty to grant the right over the mines
to those who apply, and to confirm their rights; he also must measure
the mines, and fix their boundaries, and see that the mine workings are
not allowed to become dangerous. Some of these duties he observes on
fixed days; for on Wednesday in the presence of the Jurors he confirms
the rights over the mines which he has granted, settles disputes about
boundaries, and pronounces judgments. On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays,
and Fridays, he rides up to the mines, and dismounting at some of them
explains what is required to be done, or considers the boundaries which
are under controversy. On Saturday all the mine managers and mine
foremen render an account of the money which they have spent on the
mines during the preceding week, and the Mining Clerk transcribes this
account into the register of expenses. Formerly, for one Principality
there was one _Bergmeister_, who used to create all the judges and
exercise jurisdiction and control over them; for every mine had its own
judge, just as to-day each locality has a _Bergmeister_ in his place,
the name alone being changed. To this ancient _Bergmeister_, who used to
dwell at Freiberg in Meissen, disputes were referred; hence right up to
the present time the one at Freiberg still has the power of pronouncing
judgment when mine owners who are engaged in disputes among themselves
appeal to him. The old _Bergmeister_ could try everything which was
presented to him in any mine whatsoever; whereas the judge could only
try the things which were done in his own district, in the same way that
every modern _Bergmeister_ can.

To each _Bergmeister_ is attached a clerk, who writes out a schedule
signifying to the applicant for a right over a mine, the day and hour on
which the right is granted, the name of the applicant, and the location
of the mine. He also affixes at the entrance to the mine, quarterly, at
the appointed time, a sheet of paper on which is shown how much
contribution must be paid to the manager of the mine. These notices are
prepared jointly with the Mining Clerk, and in common they receive the
fee rendered by the foremen of the separate mines.

I now come to the Jurors, who are men experienced in mining matters and
of good repute. Their number is greater or less as there are few or more
mines; thus if there are ten mines there will be five pairs of Jurors,
like a _decemviral college_[16]. Into however many divisions the total
number of mines has been divided, so many divisions has the body of
Jurors; each pair of Jurors usually visits some of the mines whose
administration is under their supervision on every day that workmen are
employed; it is usually so arranged that they visit all the mines in the
space of fourteen days. They inspect and consider all details, and
deliberate and consult with the mine foreman on matters relating to the
underground workings, machinery, timbering, and everything else. They
also jointly with the mine foreman from time to time make the price per
fathom to the workmen for mining the ore, fixing it at a high or low
price, according to whether the rock is hard or soft; if, however, the
contractors find that an unforeseen and unexpected hardness occurs, and
for that reason have difficulty and delay in carrying out their work,
the Jurors allow them something in excess of the price fixed; while if
there is a softness by reason of water, and the work is done more easily
and quickly, they deduct something from the price. Further, if the
Jurors discover manifest negligence or fraud on the part of any foreman
or workman, they first admonish or reprimand him as to his duties and
obligations, and if he does not become more diligent and improve, the
matter is reported to the _Bergmeister_, who by right of his authority
deprives such persons of their functions and office, or, if they have
committed a crime, throws them into prison. Lastly, because the Jurors
have been given to the _Bergmeister_ as councillors and advisors, in
their absence he does not confirm the right over any mine, nor measure
the mines, nor fix their boundaries, nor settle disputes about
boundaries, nor pronounce judgment, nor, finally, does he without them
listen to any account of profits and expenditure.

Now the Mining Clerk enters each mine in his books, the new mines in one
book, the old mines which have been re-opened in another. This is done
in the following way: first is written the name of the man who has
applied for the right over the mine, then the day and hour on which he
made his application, then the vein and the locality in which it is
situated, next the conditions on which the right has been given, and
lastly, the day on which the _Bergmeister_ confirmed it. A document
containing all these particulars is also given to the person whose right
over a mine has been confirmed. The Mining Clerk also sets down in
another book the names of the owners of each mine over which the right
has been confirmed; in another any intermission of work permitted to any
person for certain reasons by the _Bergmeister_; in another the money
which one mine supplies to another for drawing off water or making
machinery; and in another the decisions of the _Bergmeister_ and the
Jurors, and the disputes settled by them as honorary arbitrators. All
these matters he enters in the books on Wednesday of every week; if
holidays fall on that day he does it on the following Thursday. Every
Saturday he enters in another book the total expenses of the preceding
week, the account of which the mine manager has rendered; but the total
quarterly expenses of each mine manager, he enters in a special book at
his own convenience. He enters similarly in another book a list of
owners who have been proscribed. Lastly, that no one may be able to
bring a charge of falsification against him, all these books are
enclosed in a chest with two locks, the key of one of which is kept by
the Mining Clerk, and of the other by the _Bergmeister_.

The Share Clerk enters in a book the owners of each mine whom the first
finder of the vein names to him, and from time to time replaces the
names of the sellers with those of the buyers of the shares. It
sometimes happens that twenty or more owners come into the possession of
some particular share. Unless, however, the seller is present, or has
sent a letter to the Mining Clerk with his seal, or better still with
the seal of the Mayor of the town where he dwells, his name is not
replaced by that of anyone else; for if the Share Clerk is not
sufficiently cautious, the law requires him to restore the late owner
wholly to his former position. He writes out a fresh document, and in
this way gives proof of possession. Four times a year, when the accounts
of the quarterly expenditure are rendered, he names the new proprietors
to the manager of each mine, that the manager may know from whom he
should demand contributions and among whom to distribute the profits of
the mines. For this work the mine manager pays the Clerk a fixed fee.

I will now speak of the duties of the mine manager. In the case of the
owners of every mine which is not yielding metal, the manager announces
to the proprietors their contributions in a document which is affixed to
the doors of the town hall, such contributions being large or small,
according as the _Bergmeister_ and two Jurors determine. If anyone fails
to pay these contributions for the space of a month, the manager removes
their names from the list of owners, and makes their shares the common
property of the other proprietors. And so, whomsoever the mine manager
names as not having paid his contribution, that same man the Mining
Clerk designates in writing, and so also does the Share Clerk. Of the
contribution, the mine manager applies part to the payment of the
foreman and workmen, and lays by a part to purchase at the lowest price
the necessary things for the mine, such as iron tools, nails, firewood,
planks, buckets, drawing-ropes, or grease. But in the case of a mine
which is yielding metal, the Tithe-gatherer pays the mine manager week
by week as much money as suffices to discharge the workmen's wages and
to provide the necessary implements for mining. The mine manager of each
mine also, in the presence of its foreman, on Saturday in each week
renders an account of his expenses to the _Bergmeister_ and the Jurors,
he renders an account of his receipts, whether the money has been
contributed by the owners or taken from the Tithe-gatherer; and of his
quarterly expenditure in the same way to them and to the Mining Prefect
and to the Mining Clerk, four times a year at the appointed time; for
just as there are four seasons of the year, namely, Spring, Summer,
Autumn, and Winter, so there are fourfold accounts of profits and
expenses. In the beginning of the first month of each quarter an account
is rendered of the money which the manager has spent on the mine during
the previous quarter, then of the profit which he has taken from it
during the same period; for example, the account which is rendered at
the beginning of spring is an account of all the profits and expenses of
each separate week of winter, which have been entered by the Mining
Clerk in the book of accounts. If the manager has spent the money of the
proprietors advantageously in the mine and has faithfully looked after
it, everyone praises him as a diligent and honest man; if through
ignorance in these matters he has caused loss, he is generally deprived
of his office; if by his carelessness and negligence the owners have
suffered loss, the _Bergmeister_ compels him to make good the loss; and
finally, if he has been guilty of fraud or theft, he is punished with
fine, prison, or death. Further, it is the business of the manager to
see that the foreman of the mine is present at the beginning and end of
the shifts, that he digs the ore in an advantageous manner, and makes
the required timbering, machines, and drains. The manager also makes the
deductions from the pay of the workmen whom the foreman has noted as
negligent. Next, if the mine is rich in metal, the manager must see that
its ore-house is closed on those days on which no work is performed; and
if it is a rich vein of gold or silver, he sees that the miners promptly
transfer the output from the shaft or tunnel into a chest or into the
strong room next to the house where the foreman dwells, that no
opportunity for theft may be given to dishonest persons. This duty he
shares in common with the foreman, but the one which follows is
peculiarly his own. When ore is smelted he is present in person, and
watches that the smelting is performed carefully and advantageously. If
from it gold or silver is melted out, when it is melted in the
cupellation furnace he enters the weight of it in his books and carries
it to the Tithe-gatherer, who similarly writes a note of its weight in
his books; it is then conveyed to the refiner. When it has been brought
back, both the Tithe-gatherer and manager again enter its weight in
their books. Why again? Because he looks after the goods of the owners
just as if they were his own. Now the laws which relate to mining permit
a manager to have charge of more than one mine, but in the case of mines
yielding gold or silver, to have charge of only two. If, however,
several mines following the head-mine begin to produce metal, he remains
in charge of these others until he is freed from the duty of looking
after them by the _Bergmeister_. Last of all, the manager, the
_Bergmeister_, and the two Jurors, in agreement with the owners, settle
the remuneration for the labourers. Enough of the duties and occupation
of the manager.

I will now leave the manager, and discuss him who controls the workmen
of the mine, who is therefore called the foreman, although some call him
the watchman. It is he who distributes the work among the labourers, and
sees diligently that each faithfully and usefully performs his duties.
He also discharges workmen on account of incompetence, or negligence,
and supplies others in their places if the two Jurors and manager give
their consent. He must be skilful in working wood, that he may timber
shafts, place posts, and make underground structures capable of
supporting an undermined mountain, lest the rocks from the hangingwall
of the veins, not being supported, become detached from the mass of the
mountain and overwhelm the workmen with destruction. He must be able to
make and lay out the drains in the tunnels, into which the water from
the veins, stringers, and seams in the rocks may collect, that it may be
properly guided and can flow away. Further, he must be able to recognize
veins and stringers, so as to sink shafts to the best advantage, and
must be able to discern one kind of material which is mined from
another, or to train his subordinates that they may separate the
materials correctly. He must also be well acquainted with all methods of
washing, so as to teach the washers how the metalliferous earth or sand
is washed. He supplies the miners with iron tools when they are about to
start to work in the mines, and apportions a certain weight of oil for
their lamps, and trains them to dig to the best advantage, and sees that
they work faithfully. When their shift is finished, he takes back the
oil which has been left. On account of his numerous and important duties
and labours, only one mine is entrusted to one foreman, nay, rather
sometimes two or three foremen are set over one mine.

Since I have mentioned the shifts, I will briefly explain how these are
carried on. The twenty-four hours of a day and night are divided into
three shifts, and each shift consists of seven hours. The three
remaining hours are intermediate between the shifts, and form an
interval during which the workmen enter and leave the mines. The first
shift begins at the fourth hour in the morning and lasts till the
eleventh hour; the second begins at the twelfth and is finished at the
seventh; these two are day shifts in the morning and afternoon. The
third is the night shift, and commences at the eighth hour in the
evening and finishes at the third in the morning. The _Bergmeister_ does
not allow this third shift to be imposed upon the workmen unless
necessity demands it. In that case, whether they draw water from the
shafts or mine the ore, they keep their vigil by the night lamps, and to
prevent themselves falling asleep from the late hours or from fatigue,
they lighten their long and arduous labours by singing, which is neither
wholly untrained nor unpleasing. In some places one miner is not allowed
to undertake two shifts in succession, because it often happens that he
either falls asleep in the mine, overcome by exhaustion from too much
labour, or arrives too late for his shift, or leaves sooner than he
ought. Elsewhere he is allowed to do so, because he cannot subsist on
the pay of one shift, especially if provisions grow dearer. The
_Bergmeister_ does not, however, forbid an extraordinary shift when he
concedes only one ordinary shift. When it is time to go to work the
sound of a great bell, which the foreigners call a "campana," gives the
workmen warning, and when this is heard they run hither and thither
through the streets toward the mines. Similarly, the same sound of the
bell warns the foreman that a shift has just been finished; therefore as
soon as he hears it, he stamps on the woodwork of the shaft and signals
the workmen to come out. Thereupon, the nearest as soon as they hear the
signal, strike the rocks with their hammers, and the sound reaches those
who are furthest away. Moreover, the lamps show that the shift has come
to an end when the oil becomes almost consumed and fails them. The
labourers do not work on Saturdays, but buy those things which are
necessary to life, nor do they usually work on Sundays or annual
festivals, but on these occasions devote the shift to holy things.
However, the workmen do not rest and do nothing if necessity demands
their labour; for sometimes a rush of water compels them to work,
sometimes an impending fall, sometimes something else, and at such times
it is not considered irreligious to work on holidays. Moreover, all
workmen of this class are strong and used to toil from birth.

The chief kinds of workmen are miners, shovellers, windlass men,
carriers, sorters, washers, and smelters, as to whose duties I will
speak in the following books, in their proper place. At present it is
enough to add this one fact, that if the workmen have been reported by
the foreman for negligence, the _Bergmeister_, or even the foreman
himself, jointly with the manager, dismisses them from their work on
Saturday, or deprives them of part of their pay; or if for fraud, throws
them into prison. However, the owners of works in which the metals are
smelted, and the master of the smelter, look after their own men. As to
the government and duties of miners, I have now said enough; I will
explain them more fully in another work entitled _De Jure et Legibus



[1] The nomenclature in this chapter has given unusual difficulty,
because the organisation of mines, either past or present, in
English-speaking countries provides no exact equivalents for many of
these offices and for many of the legal terms. The Latin terms in the
text were, of course, coined by the author, and have no historical basis
to warrant their adoption, while the introduction of the original German
terms is open to much objection, as they are not only largely obsolete,
but also in the main would convey no meaning to the majority of readers.
We have, therefore, reached a series of compromises, and in the main
give the nearest English equivalent. Of much interest in this connection
is a curious exotic survival in mining law to be found in the High Peak
of Derbyshire. We believe (see note on p. 85) that the law of this
district was of Saxon importation, for in it are not only many terms of
German origin, but the character of the law is foreign to the older
English districts and shows its near kinship to that of Saxony. It is
therefore of interest in connection with the nomenclature to be adopted
in this book, as it furnishes about the only English precedents in many
cases. The head of the administration in the Peak was the Steward, who
was the chief judicial officer, with functions somewhat similar to the
_Berghauptmann_. However, the term Steward has come to have so much less
significance that we have adopted a literal rendering of the Latin.
Under the Steward was the Barmaster, Barghmaster, or Barmar, as he was
variously called, and his duties were similar to those of the
_Bergmeister_. The English term would seem to be a corruption of the
German, and as the latter has come to be so well understood by the
English-speaking mining class, we have in this case adopted the German.
The Barmaster acted always by the consent and with the approval of a
jury of from 12 to 24 members. In this instance the English had
functions much like a modern jury, while the _Geschwornen_ of Saxony had
much more widely extended powers. The German _Geschwornen_ were in the
main Inspectors; despite this, however, we have not felt justified in
adopting any other than the literal English for the Latin and German
terms. We have vacillated a great deal over the term _Praefectus
Fodinae_, the German _Steiger_ having, like the Cornish "Captain," in
these days degenerated into a foreman, whereas the duties as described
were not only those of the modern Superintendent or Manager, but also
those of Treasurer of the Company, for he made the calls on shares and
paid the dividends. The term Purser has been used for centuries in
English mining for the Accountant or Cashier, but his functions were
limited to paying dividends, wages, etc., therefore we have considered
it better not to adopt the latter term, and have compromised upon the
term Superintendent or Manager, although it has a distinctly modern
flavor. The word for _area_ has also caused much hesitation, and the
"meer" has finally been adopted with some doubt. The title described by
Agricola has a very close equivalent in the meer of old Derbyshire. As
will be seen later, the mines of Saxony were Regal property, and were
held subject to two essential conditions, _i.e._, payment of a tithe,
and continuous operation. This form of title thus approximates more
closely to the "lease" of Australia than to the old Cornish _sett_, or
the American _claim_. The _fundgrube_ of Saxony and Agricola's
equivalent, the _area capitis_--head lease--we have rendered literally
as "head meer," although in some ways "founders' meer" might be better,
for, in Derbyshire, this was called the "finder's" or founder's meer,
and was awarded under similar circumstances. It has also an analogy in
Australian law in the "reward" leases. The term "measure" has the merit
of being a literal rendering of the Latin, and also of being the
identical term in the same use in the High Peak. The following table of
the principal terms gives the originals of the Latin text, their German
equivalents according in the Glossary and other sources, and those
adopted in the translation:--

     AGRICOLA.                GERMAN GLOSSARY.          TERM ADOPTED.
  _Praefectus Metallorum_    _Bergamptmann_             Mining Prefect.
  _Magister Metallicorum_    _Bergmeister_              Bergmeister.
  _Scriba Magister           _Bergmeister's schreiber_  Bergmeister's clerk.
  _Jurati_                   _Geschwornen_              Jurates or Jurors.
  _Publicus Signator_        _Gemeiner sigler_          Notary.
  _Decumanus_                _Zehender_                 Tithe gatherer.
  _Distributor_              _Aussteiler_               Cashier.
  _Scriba partium_           _Gegenschreiber_           Share clerk.
  _Scriba fodinarum_         _Bergschreiber_            Mining clerk.
  _Praefectus fodinae_     } _Steiger_                { Manager of the Mine.
  _Praefectus cuniculi_    }                          { Manager of the Tunnel.
  _Praeses fodinae_        } _Schichtmeister_         { Foreman of the Mine.
  _Praeses cuniculi_       }                          { Foreman of the Tunnel.
  _Fossores_                _Berghauer_                 Miners or diggers.
  _Ingestores_              _Berganschlagen_            Shovellers.
  _Vectarii_                _Hespeler_                  Lever workers
                                                          (windlass men).
  _Discretores_             _Ertzpucher_                Sorters.
  _Lotores_                 _Wescher und seiffner_      Washers, buddlers,
                                                          sifters, etc.
  _Excoctores_              _Schmeltzer_                Smelters.
  _Purgator Argenti_        _Silber brenner_            Silver refiner.
  _Magister Monetariorum_   _Müntzmeister_              Master of the Mint.
  _Monetarius_              _Müntzer_                   Coiner.
  _Area fodinarum_          _Masse_                     Meer.
  _Area Capitis Fodinarum_  _Fundgrube_                 Head meer.
  _Demensum_                _Lehen_                     Measure.

[2] The following are the equivalents of the measures mentioned in this
book. It is not always certain which "foot" or "fathom" Agricola
actually had in mind although they were probably the German.

          _Dactylos_    =   .76 inches
     16 = _Pous_        = 12.13 inches
      6 = _Orguia_      = 72.81 inches.

          _Uncia_       =   .97   "
     12 = _Pes_         = 11.6    "
      5 = _Passus_      = 58.1    "

          _Zoll_        =   .93   "
     12 = _Werckschuh_  = 11.24   "
      6 = _Lachter_     = 67.5    "

          Inch          =  1.0    "
     12 =  Foot         = 12.00   "
      6 =  Fathom       = 72.0    "

The discrepancies are due to variations in authorities and to decimals
dropped. The _werckschuh_ taken is the Chemnitz foot deduced from
Agricola's statement in his _De Mensuris et Ponderibus_, Basel, 1533, p.
29. For further notes see Appendix C.

[3] _Subcisivum_--"Remainder." German Glossary, _Ueberschar_. The term
used in Mendip and Derbyshire was _primgap_ or _primegap_. It did not,
however, in this case belong to adjacent mines, but to the landlord.

[4] _Adversum_. Glossary, _gegendrumb_. The _Bergwerk Lexicon_,
Chemnitz, 1743, gives _gegendrom_ or _gegentramm_, and defines it as the
_masse_ or lease next beyond a stream.

[5] _Quadratum_. Glossary, _vierung_. The _vierung_ in old Saxon title
meant a definite zone on either side of the vein, 3-1/2 _lachter_
(_lachter_ = 5 ft. 7.5 inches) into the hangingwall and the same into
the footwall, the length of one _vierung_ being 7 _lachter_ along the
strike. It must be borne in mind that the form of rights here referred
to entitled the miner to follow his vein, carrying the side line with
him in depth the same distance from the vein, in much the same way as
with the Apex Law of the United States. From this definition as given in
the _Bergwerk Lexicon_, p. 585, it would appear that the vein itself was
not included in the measurements, but that they started from the walls.

branch of the law of property, of which the development is more
interesting and illuminating from a social point of view than that
relating to minerals. Unlike the land, the minerals have ever been
regarded as a sort of fortuitous property, for the title of which there
have been four principal claimants--that is, the Overlord, as
represented by the King, Prince, Bishop, or what not; the Community or
the State, as distinguished from the Ruler; the Landowner; and the Mine
Operator, to which class belongs the Discoverer. The one of these that
possessed the dominant right reflects vividly the social state and
sentiment of the period. The Divine Right of Kings; the measure of
freedom of their subjects; the tyranny of the land-owning class; the
rights of the Community as opposed to its individual members; the rise
of individualism; and finally, the modern return to more communal view,
have all been reflected promptly in the mineral title. Of these parties
the claims of the Overlord have been limited only by the resistance of
his subjects; those of the State limited by the landlord; those of the
landlord by the Sovereign or by the State; while the miner, ever in a
minority in influence as well as in numbers, has been buffeted from
pillar to post, his only protection being the fact that all other
parties depended upon his exertion and skill.

The conception as to which of these classes had a right in the title
have been by no means the same in different places at the same time, and
in all it varies with different periods; but the whole range of
legislation indicates the encroachment of one factor in the community
over another, so that their relative rights have been the cause of
never-ending contention, ever since a record of civil and economic
contentions began. In modern times, practically over the whole world,
the State has in effect taken the rights from the Overlord, but his
claims did not cease until his claims over the bodies of his subjects
also ceased. However, he still remains in many places with his picture
on the coinage. The Landlord has passed through many vicissitudes; his
complete right to minerals was practically never admitted until the
doctrine of _laissez-faire_ had become a matter of faith, and this just
in time to vest him with most of the coal and iron deposits in the
world; this, no doubt, being also partially due to the little regard in
which such deposits were generally held at that time, and therefore to
the little opposition to his ever-ready pretentions. Their numbers,
however, and their prominence in the support of the political powers _de
jure_ have usually obtained them some recognition. In the rise of
individualism, the apogee of the _laissez-faire_ fetish came about the
time of the foundation of the United States, and hence the relaxation in
the claims of the State in that country and the corresponding position
attained by the landlord and miner. The discoverer and the
operator--that is, the miner himself--has, however, had to be reckoned
with by all three of the other claimants, because they have almost
universally sought to escape the risks of mining, to obtain the most
skilful operation, and to stimulate the productivity of the mines;
thereupon the miner has secured at least partial consideration. This
stands out in all times and all places, and while the miner has had to
take the risks of his fortuitous calling, the Overlord, State, or
Landlord have all made for complacent safety by demanding some kind of a
tithe on his exertions. Moreover, there has often been a low cunning
displayed by these powers in giving something extra to the first
discoverer. In these relations of the powers to the mine operator, from
the very first we find definite records of the imposition of certain
conditions with extraordinary persistence--so fixed a notion that even
the United States did not quite escape it. This condition was, no doubt,
designed as a stimulus to productive activity, and was the requirement
that the miner should continuously employ himself digging in the piece
of ground allotted to him. The Greeks, Romans, Mediæval Germans, old and
modern Englishmen, modern Australians, all require the miner to keep
continuously labouring at his mines, or lose his title. The American, as
his inauguration of government happened when things were easier for
individuals, allows him a vacation of 11 months in the year for a few
years, and finally a holiday altogether. There are other points where
the Overlord, the State, or the Landlord have always considered that
they had a right to interfere, principally as to the way the miner does
his work, lest he should miss, or cause to be missed, some of the
mineral; so he has usually been under pains and penalties as to his
methods--these quite apart from the very proper protection to human
life, which is purely a modern invention, largely of the miner himself.
Somebody has had to keep peace and settle disputes among the usually
turbulent miners (for what other sort of operators would undertake the
hazards and handicaps?), and therefore special officials and codes, or
Courts, for his benefit are of the oldest and most persistent of

Between the Overlord and the Landowner the fundamental conflict of view
as to their respective rights has found its interpretation in the form
of the mineral title. The Overlord claimed the metals as distinguished
from the land, while the landowner claimed all beneath his soil.
Therefore, we find two forms of title--that in which the miner could
follow the ore regardless of the surface (the "apex" conception), and
that in which the boundaries were vertical from the land surface. Lest
the Americans think that the Apex Law was a sin original to themselves,
we may mention that it was made use of in Europe a few centuries before
Agricola, who will be found to set it out with great precision.

From these points of view, more philosophical than legal, we present a
few notes on various ancient laws of mines, though space forbids a
discussion of a tithe of the amount it deserves at some experienced

Of the Ancient Egyptian, Lydian, Assyrian, Persian, Indian, and Chinese
laws as to mines we have no record, but they were of great simplicity,
for the bodies as well as the property of subjects were at the abject
disposition of the Overlord. We are informed on countless occasions of
Emperors, Kings, and Princes of various degree among these races, owning
and operating mines with convicts, soldiers, or other slaves, so we may
take it for certain that continuous labour was enforced, and that the
boundaries, inspection, and landlords did not cause much anxiety.
However, herein lies the root of regalian right.

Our first glimpse of a serious right of the subject to mines is among
some of the Greek States, as could be expected from their form of
government. With republican ideals, a rich mining district at Mount
Laurion, an enterprising and contentious people, it would be surprising
indeed if Athenian Literature was void on the subject. While we know
that the active operation of these mines extended over some 500 years,
from 700 to 200 B.C., the period of most literary reference was from 400
to 300 B.C. Our information on the subject is from two of Demosthenes'
orations--one against Pantaenetus, the other against Phaenippus--the
first mining lawsuit in which the address of counsel is extant. There is
also available some information in Xenophon's Essay upon the Revenues,
Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, Lycurgus' prosecution of Diphilos,
the Tablets of the Poletae, and many incidental references and
inscriptions of minor order. The minerals were the property of the
State, a conception apparently inherited from the older civilizations.
Leases for exploitation were granted to individuals for terms of three
to ten years, depending upon whether the mines had been previously
worked, thus a special advantage was conferred upon the pioneer. The
leases did not carry surface rights, but the boundaries at Mt. Laurion
were vertical, as necessarily must be the case everywhere in horizontal
deposits. What they were elsewhere we do not know. The landlord
apparently got nothing. The miner must continuously operate his mine,
and was required to pay a large tribute to the State, either in the
initial purchase of his lease or in annual rent. There were elaborate
regulations as to interference and encroachment, and proper support of
the workings. Diphilos was condemned to death and his fortune
confiscated for robbing pillars. The mines were worked with slaves.

The Romans were most intensive miners and searchers after metallic
wealth already mined. The latter was obviously the objective of most
Roman conquest, and those nations rich in these commodities, at that
time necessarily possessed their own mines. Thus a map showing the
extensions of Empire coincides in an extraordinary manner with the metal
distribution of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Further, the great
indentations into the periphery of the Imperial map, though many were
rich from an agricultural point of view, had no lure to the Roman
because they had no mineral wealth. On the Roman law of mines the
student is faced with many perplexities. With the conquest of the older
States, the plunderers took over the mines and worked them, either by
leases from the State to public companies or to individuals; or even in
some cases worked them directly by the State. There was thus maintained
the concept of State ownership of the minerals which, although
apparently never very specifically defined, yet formed a basis of
support to the contention of regalian rights in Europe later on.
Parallel with this system, mines were discovered and worked by
individuals under tithe to the State, and in Pliny (XXXIV, 49) there is
reference to the miners in Britain limiting their own output. Individual
mining appears to have increased with any relaxation of central
authority, as for instance under Augustus. It appears, as a rule, that
the mines were held on terminable leases, and that the State did at
times resume them; the labour was mostly slaves. As to the detailed
conditions under which the mine operator held his title, we know less
than of the Greeks--in fact, practically nothing other than that he paid
a tithe. The Romans maintained in each mining district an official--the
_Procurator Metallorum_--who not only had general charge of the leasing
of the mines on behalf of the State, but was usually the magistrate of
the district. A bronze tablet found near Aljustrel, in Portugal, in
1876, generally known as the Aljustrel Tablet, appears to be the third
of a series setting out the regulations of the mining district. It
refers mostly to the regulation of public auctions, the baths, barbers,
and tradesmen; but one clause (VII.) is devoted to the regulation of
those who work dumps of scoria, etc., and provides for payment to the
administrator of the mines of a _capitation_ on the slaves employed. It
does not, however, so far as we can determine, throw any light upon the
actual regulations for working the mines. (Those interested will find
ample detail in Jacques Flach, "_La Table de Bronze d'Aljustrel:
Nouvelle Revue Historique de Droit Francais et Etranger_," 1878, p. 655;
_Estacio da Veiga, Memorias da Acad. Real das Ciencias de Lisbon, Nova
Scrie, Tome V, Part II_, Lisbon, 1882.) Despite the systematic law of
property evolved by the Romans, the codes contain but small reference to
mines, and this in itself is indirect evidence of the concept that they
were the property of the State. Any general freedom of the metals would
have given rise to a more extensive body of law. There are, of course,
the well-known sections in the Justinian and Theodosian Codes, but the
former in the main bears on the collection of the tithe and the
stimulation of mining by ordering migrant miners to return to their own
hearths. There is also some intangible prohibition of mining near
edifices. There is in the Theodosian code evident extension of
individual right to mine or quarry, and this "freeing" of the mines was
later considerably extended. The Empire was, however, then on the
decline; and no doubt it was hoped to stimulate the taxable commodities.
There is nothing very tangible as to the position of the landlord with
regard to minerals found on his property; the metals were probably of
insufficient frequency on the land of Italian landlords to matter much,
and the attitude toward subject races was not usually such as to require
an extensive body of law.

In the chaos of the Middle Ages, Europe was governed by hundreds of
potentates, great and small, who were unanimous on one point, and this
that the minerals were their property. In the bickerings among
themselves, the stronger did not hesitate to interpret the Roman law in
affirming regalian rights as an excuse to dispossess the weaker. The
rights to the mines form no small part of the differences between these
Potentates and the more important of their subjects; and with the
gradual accretion of power into a few hands, we find only the most
powerful of vassals able to resist such encroachment. However, as to
what position the landlord or miner held in these rights, we have little
indication until about the beginning of the 13th century, after which
there appear several well-known charters, which as time went on were
elaborated into practical codes of mining law. The earliest of these
charters are those of the Bishop of Trent, 1185; that of the Harz
Miners, 1219; of the town of Iglau in 1249. Many such in connection with
other districts appear throughout the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries.
(References to the most important of such charters may be found in
Sternberg, _Umrisse der Geschichte des Bergbaues_, Prague, 1838;
Eisenhart, _De Regali Metalli Fodinarium_, Helmestadt, 1681; Gmelin,
_Beyträge zur Geschichte des Teutschen Bergbaus_, Halle, 1783;
Inama-Sternegg, _Deutsche Wirthschaftsgeschichte_, Leipzig, 1879-1901;
Transactions, Royal Geol. Soc. Cornwall VI, 155; Lewis, The Stannaries,
New York, 1908.) By this time a number of mining communities had grown
up, and the charters in the main are a confirmation to them of certain
privileges; they contain, nevertheless, rigorous reservation of the
regalian right. The landlord, where present, was usually granted some
interest in the mine, but had to yield to the miner free entry. The
miner was simply a sort of tributer to the Crown, loaded with an
obligation when upon private lands to pay a further portion of his
profits to the landlord. He held tenure only during strenuous operation.
However, it being necessary to attract skilled men, they were granted
many civil privileges not general to the people; and from many of the
principal mining towns "free cities" were created, possessing a measure
of self-government. There appear in the Iglau charter of 1249 the first
symptoms of the "apex" form of title, this being the logical development
of the conception that the minerals were of quite distinct ownership
from the land. The law, as outlined by Agricola, is much the same as set
out in the Iglavian Charter of three centuries before, and we must
believe that such fully developed conceptions as that charter conveys
were but the confirmation of customs developed over generations.

In France the landlord managed to maintain a stronger position
_vis-à-vis_ with the Crown, despite much assertion of its rights; and as
a result, while the landlord admitted the right to a tithe for the
Crown, he maintained the actual possession, and the boundaries were
defined with the land.

In England the law varied with special mining communities, such as
Cornwall, Devon, the Forest of Dean, the Forest of Mendip, Alston Moor,
and the High Peak, and they exhibit a curious complex of individual
growth, of profound interest to the student of the growth of
institutions. These communities were of very ancient origin, some of
them at least pre-Roman; but we are, except for the reference in Pliny,
practically without any idea of their legal doings until after the
Norman occupation (1066 A.D.). The genius of these conquerors for
systematic government soon led them to inquire into the doings of these
communities, and while gradually systematising their customs into law,
they lost no occasion to assert the regalian right to the minerals. In
the two centuries subsequent to their advent there are on record
numerous inquisitions, with the recognition and confirmation of "the
customs and liberties which had existed from time immemorial," always
with the reservation to the Crown of some sort of royalty. Except for
the High Peak in Derbyshire, the period and origin of these "customs and
liberties" are beyond finding out, as there is practically no record of
English History between the Roman withdrawal and the Norman occupation.
There may have been "liberties" under the Romans, but there is not a
shred of evidence on the subject, and our own belief is that the forms
of self-government which sprang up were the result of the Roman
evacuation. The miner had little to complain of in the Norman treatment
in these matters; but between the Crown and the landlord as represented
by the Barons, Lords of the Manor, etc., there were wide differences of
opinion on the regalian rights, for in the extreme interpretation of the
Crown it tended greatly to curtail the landlord's position in the
matter, and the success of the Crown on this subject was by no means
universal. In fact, a considerable portion of English legal history of
mines is but the outcropping of this conflict, and one of the
concessions wrung from King John at Runnymede in 1215 was his
abandonment of a portion of such claims.

The mining communities of Cornwall and Devon were early in the
13th century definitely chartered into corporations--"The
Stannaries"--possessing definite legislative and executive functions,
judicial powers, and practical self-government; but they were required
to make payment of the tithe in the shape of "coinage" on the tin. Such
recognition, while but a ratification of prior custom, was not obtained
without struggle, for the Norman Kings early asserted wide rights over
the mines. Tangible record of mining in these parts, from a legal point
of view, practically begins with a report by William de Wrotham in 1198
upon his arrangements regarding the coinage. A charter of King John in
1201, while granting free right of entry to the miners, thus usurped the
rights of the landlords--a claim which he was compelled by the Barons to
moderate; the Crown, as above mentioned did maintain its right to a
royalty, but the landlord held the minerals. It is not, however, until
the time of Richard Carew's "Survey of Cornwall" (London, 1602) that we
obtain much insight into details of miners' title, and the customs there
set out were maintained in broad principle down to the 19th century. At
Carew's time the miner was allowed to prospect freely upon "Common" or
wastrel lands (since mostly usurped by landlords), and upon mineral
discovery marked his boundaries, within which he was entitled to the
vertical contents. Even upon such lands, however, he must acknowledge
the right of the lord of the manor to a participation in the mine. Upon
"enclosed" lands he had no right of entry without the consent of the
landlord; in fact, the minerals belonged to the land as they do to-day
except where voluntarily relinquished. In either case he was compelled
to "renew his bounds" once a year, and to operate more or less
continuously to maintain the right once obtained. There thus existed a
"labour condition" of variable character, usually imposed more or less
vigorously in the bargains with landlords. The regulations in Devonshire
differed in the important particular that the miner had right of entry
to private lands, although he was not relieved of the necessity to give
a participation of some sort to the landlord. The Forests of Dean,
Mendip, and other old mining communities possessed a measure of
self-government, which do not display any features in their law
fundamentally different from those of Cornwall and Devon. The High Peak
lead mines of Derbyshire, however, exhibit one of the most profoundly
interesting of these mining communities. As well as having distinctively
Saxon names for some of the mines, the customs there are of undoubted
Saxon origin, and as such their ratification by the Normans caused the
survival of one of the few Saxon institutions in England--a fact which,
we believe, has been hitherto overlooked by historians. Beginning with
inquisitions by Edward I. in 1288, there is in the Record Office a
wealth of information, the bare titles of which form too extensive a
list to set out here. (Of published works, the most important are Edward
Manlove's "The Liberties and Customs of the Lead Mines within the
Wapentake of Wirksworth," London, 1653, generally referred to as the
"Rhymed Chronicle"; Thomas Houghton, "Rara Avis in Terra," London, 1687;
William Hardy, "The Miner's Guide," Sheffield, 1748; Thomas Tapping,
"High Peak Mineral Customs," London, 1851.) The miners in this district
were presided over by a "Barmaster," "Barghmaster," or "Barmar," as he
was variously spelled, all being a corruption of the German Bergmeister,
with precisely the same functions as to the allotment of title,
settlement of disputes, etc., as his Saxon progenitor had, and, like
him, he was advised by a jury. The miners had entry to all lands except
churchyards (this regulation waived upon death), and a few similar
exceptions, and was subject to royalty to the Crown and the landlord.
The discoverer was entitled to a finder's "meer" of extra size, and his
title was to the vein within the end lines, _i.e._, the "apex" law. This
title was held subject to rigorous labour conditions, amounting to
forfeiture for failure to operate the mine for a period of nine weeks.
Space does not permit of the elaboration of the details of this subject,
which we hope to pursue elsewhere in its many historical bearings. Among
these we may mention that if the American "Apex law" is of English
descent, it must be laid to the door of Derbyshire, and not of Cornwall,
as is generally done. Our own belief, however, is that the American
"apex" conception came straight from Germany.

It is not our purpose to follow these inquiries into mining law beyond
the 15th century, but we may point out that with the growth of the
sentiment of individualism the miners and landlords obtained steadily
wider and wider rights at the cost of the State, until well within the
19th century. The growth of stronger communal sentiment since the middle
of the last century has already found its manifestation in the
legislation with regard to mines, for the laws of South Africa,
Australia, and England, and the agitation in the United States are all
toward greater restrictions on the mineral ownership in favour of the

[7] ?_De Limitibus et de Re Agraria_ of Sextus Julius Frontinus (about
50-90 A.D.)

[8] Such a form of ownership is very old. Apparently upon the
instigation of Xenophon (see Note 7, p. 29) the Greeks formed companies
to work the mines of Laurion, further information as to which is given
in note 6, p. 27. Pliny (Note 7, p. 232) mentions the Company working
the quicksilver mines in Spain. In fact, company organization was very
common among the Romans, who speculated largely in the shares,
especially in those companies which farmed the taxes of the provinces,
or leased public lands, or took military and civil contracts.

[9] The Latin text gives one-sixth, obviously an error.

[10] A _symposium_ is a banquet, and a _symbola_ is a contribution of
money to a banquet. This sentence is probably a play on the old German
_Zeche_, mine, this being also a term for a drinking bout.

[11] In the Latin text this is "three"--obviously an error.

[12] See Note 9, p. 74, for further information with regard to these
mines. The Rhenish gulden was about 6.9 shillings, or $1.66. Silver was
worth about this amount per Troy ounce at this period, so that roughly,
silver of a value of 1,100 gulden would be about 1,100 Troy ounces. The
Saxon thaler was worth about 4.64 shillings or about $1.11. The thaler,
therefore, represented about .65 Troy ounces of silver, so that 300
thalers were about 195 Troy ounces, and 225 thalers about 146 Troy

[13] _Opera continens_. The Glossary gives _schicht_,--the origin of the
English "shift."

[14] The terms in the Latin text are _donator_, a giver of a gift, and
_donatus_, a receiver. It appears to us, however, that some
consideration passed, and we have, therefore, used "seller" and "buyer."

[15] See Note 29, p. 23.

[16] _Decemviri_--"The Ten Men." The original _Decemviri_ were a body
appointed by the Romans in 452 B.C., principally to codify the law. Such
commissions were afterward instituted for other purposes, but the
analogy of the above paragraph is a little remote.

[17] This work was apparently never published; see Appendix A.


In the last book I have explained the methods of delimiting the meers
along each kind of vein, and the duties of mine officials. In this
book[1] I will in like manner explain the principles of underground
mining and the art of surveying. First then, I will proceed to deal with
those matters which pertain to the former heading, since both the
subject and methodical arrangement require it. And so I will describe
first of all the digging of shafts, tunnels, and drifts on _venae
profundae_; next I will discuss the good indications shown by
_canales_[2], by the materials which are dug out, and by the rocks; then
I will speak of the tools by which veins and rocks are broken down and
excavated; the method by which fire shatters the hard veins; and
further, of the machines with which water is drawn from the shafts and
air is forced into deep shafts and long tunnels, for digging is impeded
by the inrush of the former or the failure of the latter; next I will
deal with the two kinds of shafts, and with the making of them and of
tunnels; and finally, I will describe the method of mining _venae
dilatatae_, _venae cumulatae_, and stringers.

Now when a miner discovers a _vena profunda_ he begins sinking a shaft
and above it sets up a windlass, and builds a shed over the shaft to
prevent the rain from falling in, lest the men who turn the windlass be
numbed by the cold or troubled by the rain. The windlass men also place
their barrows in it, and the miners store their iron tools and other
implements therein. Next to the shaft-house another house is built,
where the mine foreman and the other workmen dwell, and in which are
stored the ore and other things which are dug out. Although some persons
build only one house, yet because sometimes boys and other living things
fall into the shafts, most miners deliberately place one house apart
from the other, or at least separate them by a wall.

[Illustration 103 (Shafts): Three vertical shafts, of which the first,
A, does not reach the tunnel; the second, B, reaches the tunnel; to the
third, C, the tunnel has not yet been driven. D--Tunnel.]

[Illustration 104 (Shafts): Three inclined shafts, of which A does not
yet reach the tunnel; B reaches the tunnel; to the third, C, the tunnel
has not yet been driven. D--Tunnel.]

Now a shaft is dug, usually two fathoms long, two-thirds of a fathom
wide, and thirteen fathoms deep; but for the purpose of connecting with
a tunnel which has already been driven in a hill, a shaft may be sunk to
a depth of only eight fathoms, at other times to fourteen, more or
less[3]. A shaft may be made vertical or inclined, according as the vein
which the miners follow in the course of digging is vertical or
inclined. A tunnel is a subterranean ditch driven lengthwise, and is
nearly twice as high as it is broad, and wide enough that workmen and
others may be able to pass and carry their loads. It is usually one and
a quarter fathoms high, while its width is about three and
three-quarters feet. Usually two workmen are required to drive it, one
of whom digs out the upper and the other the lower part, and the one
goes forward, while the other follows closely after. Each sits upon
small boards fixed securely from the footwall to the hangingwall, or if
the vein is a soft one, sometimes on a wedge-shaped plank fixed on to
the vein itself. Miners sink more inclined shafts than vertical, and
some of each kind do not reach to tunnels, while some connect with them.
But as for some shafts, though they have already been sunk to the
required depth, the tunnel which is to pierce the mountain may not yet
have been driven far enough to connect with them.

[Illustration 105 (Shafts): A--Shaft. B, C--Drift. D--Another shaft.
E--Tunnel. F--Mouth of tunnel.]

It is advantageous if a shaft connects with a tunnel, for then the
miners and other workmen carry on more easily the work they have
undertaken; but if the shaft is not so deep, it is usual to drift from
one or both sides of it. From these openings the owner or foreman
becomes acquainted with the veins and stringers that unite with the
principal vein, or cut across it, or divide it obliquely; however, my
discourse is now concerned mainly with _vena profunda_, but most of all
with the metallic material which it contains. Excavations of this kind
were called by the Greeks [Greek: kryptai] for, extending along after
the manner of a tunnel, they are entirely hidden within the ground.
This kind of an opening, however, differs from a tunnel in that it is
dark throughout its length, whereas a tunnel has a mouth open to

I have spoken of shafts, tunnels, and drifts. I will now speak of the
indications given by the _canales_, by the materials which are dug out,
and by the rocks. These indications, as also many others which I will
explain, are to a great extent identical in _venae dilatatae_ and _venae
cumulatae_ with _venae profundae_.

When a stringer junctions with a main vein and causes a swelling, a
shaft should be sunk at the junction. But when we find the stringer
intersecting the main vein crosswise or obliquely, if it descends
vertically down to the depths of the earth, a second shaft should be
sunk to the point where the stringer cuts the main vein; but if the
stringer cuts it obliquely the shaft should be two or three fathoms
back, in order that the junction may be pierced lower down. At such
junctions lies the best hope of finding the ore for the sake of which we
explore the ground, and if ore has already been found, it is usually
found in much greater abundance at that spot. Again, if several
stringers descend into the earth, the miner, in order to pierce through
the point of contact, should sink the shaft in the midst of these
stringers, or else calculate on the most prominent one.

Since an inclined vein often lies near a vertical vein, it is advisable
to sink a shaft at the spot where a stringer or cross-vein cuts them
both; or where a _vena dilatata_ or a stringer _dilatata_ passes
through, for minerals are usually found there. In the same way we have a
good prospect of finding metal at the point where an inclined vein joins
a vertical one; this is why miners cross-cut the hangingwall or footwall
of a main vein, and in these openings seek for a vein which may junction
with the principal vein a few fathoms below. Nay, further, these same
miners, if no stringer or cross-vein intersects the main vein so that
they can follow it in their workings, even cross-cut through the solid
rock of the hangingwall or footwall. These cross-cuts are likewise
called "[Greek: kryptai]," whether the beginning of the opening which
has to be undertaken is made from a tunnel or from a drift. Miners have
some hope when only a cross vein cuts a main vein. Further, if a vein
which cuts the main vein obliquely does not appear anywhere beyond it,
it is advisable to dig into that side of the main vein toward which the
oblique vein inclines, whether the right or left side, that we may
ascertain if the main vein has absorbed it; if after cross-cutting six
fathoms it is not found, it is advisable to dig on the other side of the
main vein, that we may know for certain whether it has carried it
forward. The owners of a main vein can often dig no less profitably on
that side where the vein which cuts the main vein again appears, than
where it first cuts it; the owners of the intersecting vein, when that
is found again, recover their title, which had in a measure been lost.

The common miners look favourably upon the stringers which come from the
north and join the main vein; on the other hand, they look unfavourably
upon those which come from the south, and say that these do much harm to
the main vein, while the former improve it. But I think that miners
should not neglect either of them: as I showed in Book III, experience
does not confirm those who hold this opinion about veins, so now again
I could furnish examples of each kind of stringers rejected by the
common miners which have proved good, but I know this could be of little
or no benefit to posterity.

If the miners find no stringers or veins in the hangingwall or footwall
of the main vein, and if they do not find much ore, it is not worth
while to undertake the labour of sinking another shaft. Nor ought a
shaft to be sunk where a vein is divided into two or three parts, unless
the indications are satisfactory that those parts may be united and
joined together a little later. Further, it is a bad indication for a
vein rich in mineral to bend and turn hither and thither, for unless it
goes down again into the ground vertically or inclined, as it first
began, it produces no more metal; and even though it does go down again,
it often continues barren. Stringers which in their outcrops bear
metals, often disappoint miners, no metal being found in depth. Further,
inverted seams in the rocks are counted among the bad indications.

The miners hew out the whole of solid veins when they show clear
evidence of being of good quality; similarly they hew out the drusy[4]
veins, especially if the cavities are plainly seen to have formerly
borne metal, or if the cavities are few and small. They do not dig
barren veins through which water flows, if there are no metallic
particles showing; occasionally, however, they dig even barren veins
which are free from water, because of the pyrites which is devoid of all
metal, or because of a fine black soft substance which is like wool.
They dig stringers which are rich in metal, or sometimes, for the
purpose of searching for the vein, those that are devoid of ore which
lie near the hangingwall or footwall of the main vein. This then,
generally speaking, is the mode of dealing with stringers and veins.

Let us now consider the metallic material which is found in the
_canales_ of _venae profundae_, _venae dilatatae_, and _venae
cumulatae_, being in all these either cohesive and continuous, or
scattered and dispersed among them, or swelling out in bellying shapes,
or found in veins or stringers which originate from the main vein and
ramify like branches; but these latter veins and stringers are very
short, for after a little space they do not appear again. If we come
across a small quantity of metallic material it is an indication; but if
a large quantity, it is not an "indication," but the very thing for
which we explore the earth. As soon as a miner who searches for veins
discovers pure metal or minerals, or rich metallic material, or a great
abundance of material which is poor in metal, let him sink a shaft on
the spot without any delay. If the material appears more abundant or of
better quality on the one side, he will incline his digging in that

Gold, silver, copper, and quicksilver are often found native[5]; less
often iron and bismuth; almost never tin and lead. Nevertheless
tin-stone is not far removed from the pure white tin which is melted out
of them, and galena, from which lead is obtained, differs little from
that metal itself.

Now we may classify gold ores. Next after native gold, we come to the
_rudis_[6], of yellowish green, yellow, purple, black, or outside red
and inside gold colour. These must be reckoned as the richest ores,
because the gold exceeds the stone or earth in weight. Next come all
gold ores of which each one hundred _librae_ contains more than three
_unciae_ of gold[7]; for although but a small proportion of gold is
found in the earth or stone, yet it equals in value other metals of
greater weight.[8] All other gold ores are considered poor, because the
earth or stone too far outweighs the gold. A vein which contains a
larger proportion of silver than of gold is rarely found to be a rich
one. Earth, whether it be dry or wet, rarely abounds in gold; but in dry
earth there is more often found a greater quantity of gold, especially
if it has the appearance of having been melted in a furnace, and if it
is not lacking in scales resembling mica. The solidified juices, azure,
chrysocolla, orpiment, and realgar, also frequently contain gold.
Likewise native or _rudis_ gold is found sometimes in large, and
sometimes in small quantities in quartz, schist, marble, and also in
stone which easily melts in fire of the second degree, and which is
sometimes so porous that it seems completely decomposed. Lastly, gold is
found in pyrites, though rarely in large quantities.

When considering silver ores other than native silver, those ores are
classified as rich, of which each one hundred _librae_ contains more
than three _librae_ of silver. This quality comprises _rudis_ silver,
whether silver glance or ruby silver, or whether white, or black, or
grey, or purple, or yellow, or liver-coloured, or any other. Sometimes
quartz, schist, or marble is of this quality also, if much native or
_rudis_ silver adheres to it. But that ore is considered of poor quality
if three _librae_ of silver at the utmost are found in each one hundred
_librae_ of it[9]. Silver ore usually contains a greater quantity than
this, because Nature bestows quantity in place of quality; such ore is
mixed with all kinds of earth and stone compounds, except the various
kinds of _rudis_ silver; especially with pyrites, _cadmia metallica
fossilis_, galena, _stibium_, and others.

As regards other kinds of metal, although some rich ores are found,
still, unless the veins contain a large quantity of ore, it is very
rarely worth while to dig them. The Indians and some other races do
search for gems in veins hidden deep in the earth, but more often they
are noticed from their clearness, or rather their brilliancy, when
metals are mined. When they outcrop, we follow veins of marble by mining
in the same way as is done with rock or building-stones when we come
upon them. But gems, properly so called, though they sometimes have
veins of their own, are still for the most part found in mines and rock
quarries, as the lodestone in iron mines, the emery in silver mines, the
_lapis judaicus_, _trochites_, and the like in stone quarries where the
diggers, at the bidding of the owners, usually collect them from the
seams in the rocks.[10] Nor does the miner neglect the digging of
"extraordinary earths,"[11] whether they are found in gold mines,
silver mines, or other mines; nor do other miners neglect them if they
are found in stone quarries, or in their own veins; their value is
usually indicated by their taste. Nor, lastly, does the miner fail to
give attention to the solidified juices which are found in metallic
veins, as well as in their own veins, from which he collects and gathers
them. But I will say no more on these matters, because I have explained
more fully all the metals and mineral substances in the books "_De
Natura Fossilium_."

But I will return to the indications. If we come upon earth which is
like lute, in which there are particles of any sort of metal, native or
_rudis_, the best possible indication of a vein is given to miners, for
the metallic material from which the particles have become detached is
necessarily close by. But if this kind of earth is found absolutely
devoid of all metallic material, but fatty, and of white, green, blue,
and similar colours, they must not abandon the work that has been
started. Miners have other indications in the veins and stringers, which
I have described already, and in the rocks, about which I will speak a
little later. If the miner comes across other dry earths which contain
native or _rudis_ metal, that is a good indication; if he comes across
yellow, red, black, or some other "extraordinary" earth, though it is
devoid of mineral, it is not a bad indication. Chrysocolla, or azure, or
verdigris, or orpiment, or realgar, when they are found, are counted
among the good indications. Further, where underground springs throw up
metal we ought to continue the digging we have begun, for this points to
the particles having been detached from the main mass like a fragment
from a body. In the same way the thin scales of any metal adhering to
stone or rock are counted among the good indications. Next, if the veins
which are composed partly of quartz, partly of clayey or dry earth,
descend one and all into the depths of the earth together, with their
stringers, there is good hope of metal being found; but if the stringers
afterward do not appear, or little metallic material is met with, the
digging should not be given up until there is nothing remaining. Dark or
black or horn or liver-coloured quartz is usually a good sign; white is
sometimes good, sometimes no sign at all. But calc-spar, showing itself
in a _vena profunda_, if it disappears a little lower down is not a good
indication; for it did not belong to the vein proper, but to some
stringer. Those kinds of stone which easily melt in fire, especially if
they are translucent (fluorspar?), must be counted among the medium
indications, for if other good indications are present they are good,
but if no good indications are present, they give no useful
significance. In the same way we ought to form our judgment with regard
to gems. Veins which at the hangingwall and footwall have horn-coloured
quartz or marble, but in the middle clayey earth, give some hope;
likewise those give hope in which the hangingwall or footwall shows
iron-rust coloured earth, and in the middle greasy and sticky earth;
also there is hope for those which have at the hanging or footwall that
kind of earth which we call "soldiers' earth," and in the middle black
earth or earth which looks as if burnt. The special indication of gold
is orpiment; of silver is bismuth and _stibium_; of copper is verdigris,
_melanteria_, _sory_, _chalcitis_, _misy_, and vitriol; of tin is the
large pure black stones of which the tin itself is made, and a material
they dig up resembling litharge; of iron, iron rust. Gold and copper are
equally indicated by chrysocolla and azure; silver and lead, by the
lead. But, though miners rightly call bismuth "the roof of silver," and
though copper pyrites is the common parent of vitriol and _melanteria_,
still these sometimes have their own peculiar minerals, just as have
orpiment and _stibium_.

Now, just as certain vein materials give miners a favourable indication,
so also do the rocks through which the _canales_ of the veins wind their
way, for sand discovered in a mine is reckoned among the good
indications, especially if it is very fine. In the same way schist, when
it is of a bluish or blackish colour, and also limestone, of whatever
colour it may be, is a good sign for a silver vein. There is a rock of
another kind that is a good sign; in it are scattered tiny black stones
from which tin is smelted; especially when the whole space between the
veins is composed of this kind of rock. Very often indeed, this good
kind of rock in conjunction with valuable stringers contains within its
folds the _canales_ of mineral bearing veins: if it descends vertically
into the earth, the benefit belongs to that mine in which it is seen
first of all; if inclined, it benefits the other neighbouring mines[12].
As a result the miner who is not ignorant of geometry can calculate from
the other mines the depth at which the _canales_ of a vein bearing rich
metal will wind its way through the rock into his mine. So much for
these matters.

I now come to the mode of working, which is varied and complex, for in
some places they dig crumbling ore, in others hard ore, in others a
harder ore, and in others the hardest kind of ore. In the same way, in
some places the hangingwall rock is soft and fragile, in others hard, in
others harder, and in still others of the hardest sort. I call that ore
"crumbling" which is composed of earth, and of soft solidified juices;
that ore "hard" which is composed of metallic minerals and moderately
hard stones, such as for the most part are those which easily melt in a
fire of the first and second orders, like lead and similar materials. I
call that ore "harder" when with those I have already mentioned are
combined various sorts of quartz, or stones which easily melt in fire of
the third degree, or pyrites, or _cadmia_, or very hard marble. I call
that ore hardest, which is composed throughout the whole vein of these
hard stones and compounds. The hanging or footwalls of a vein are hard,
when composed of rock in which there are few stringers or seams; harder,
in which they are fewer; hardest, in which they are fewest or none at
all. When these are absent, the rock is quite devoid of water which
softens it. But the hardest rock of the hanging or footwall, however, is
seldom as hard as the harder class of ore.

Miners dig out crumbling ore with the pick alone. When the metal has not
yet shown itself, they do not discriminate between the hangingwall and
the veins; when it has once been found, they work with the utmost care.
For first of all they tear away the hangingwall rock separately from the
vein, afterward with a pick they dislodge the crumbling vein from the
footwall into a dish placed underneath to prevent any of the metal from
falling to the ground. They break a hard vein loose from the footwall by
blows with a hammer upon the first kind of iron tool[13], all of which
are designated by appropriate names, and with the same tools they hew
away the hard hangingwall rock. They hew out the hangingwall rock in
advance more frequently, the rock of the footwall more rarely; and
indeed, when the rock of the footwall resists iron tools, the rock of
the hangingwall certainly cannot be broken unless it is allowable to
shatter it by fire. With regard to the harder veins which are tractable
to iron tools, and likewise with regard to the harder and hardest kind
of hangingwall rock, they generally attack them with more powerful iron
tools, in fact, with the fourth kind of iron tool, which are called by
their appropriate names; but if these are not ready to hand, they use
two or three iron tools of the first kind together. As for the hardest
kind of metal-bearing vein, which in a measure resists iron tools, if
the owners of the neighbouring mines give them permission, they break it
with fires. But if these owners refuse them permission, then first of
all they hew out the rock of the hangingwall, or of the footwall if it
be less hard; then they place timbers set in hitches in the hanging or
footwall, a little above the vein, and from the front and upper part,
where the vein is seen to be seamed with small cracks, they drive into
one of the little cracks one of the iron tools which I have mentioned;
then in each fracture they place four thin iron blocks, and in order to
hold them more firmly, if necessary, they place as many thin iron plates
back to back; next they place thinner iron plates between each two iron
blocks, and strike and drive them by turns with hammers, whereby the
vein rings with a shrill sound; and the moment when it begins to be
detached from the hangingwall or footwall rock, a tearing sound is
heard. As soon as this grows distinct the miners hastily flee away; then
a great crash is heard as the vein is broken and torn, and falls down.
By this method they throw down a portion of a vein weighing a hundred
pounds more or less. But if the miners by any other method hew the
hardest kind of vein which is rich in metal, there remain certain
cone-shaped portions which can be cut out afterward only with
difficulty. As for this knob of hard ore, if it is devoid of metal, or
if they are not allowed to apply fire to it, they proceed round it by
digging to the right or left, because it cannot be broken into by iron
wedges without great expense. Meantime, while the workmen are carrying
out the task they have undertaken, the depths of the earth often resound
with sweet singing, whereby they lighten a toil which is of the severest
kind and full of the greatest dangers.

As I have just said, fire shatters the hardest rocks, but the method of
its application is not simple[14]. For if a vein held in the rocks
cannot be hewn out because of the hardness or other difficulty, and the
drift or tunnel is low, a heap of dried logs is placed against the rock
and fired; if the drift or tunnel is high, two heaps are necessary, of
which one is placed above the other, and both burn until the fire has
consumed them. This force does not generally soften a large portion of
the vein, but only some of the surface. When the rock in the hanging or
footwall can be worked by the iron tools and the vein is so hard that it
is not tractable to the same tools, then the walls are hollowed out; if
this be in the end of the drift or tunnel or above or below, the vein is
then broken by fire, but not by the same method; for if the hollow is
wide, as many logs are piled into it as possible, but if narrow, only a
few. By the one method the greater fire separates the vein more
completely from the footwall or sometimes from the hangingwall, and by
the other, the smaller fire breaks away less of the vein from the rock,
because in that case the fire is confined and kept in check by portions
of the rock which surround the wood held in such a narrow excavation.
Further, if the excavation is low, only one pile of logs is placed in
it, if high, there are two, one placed above the other, by which plan
the lower bundle being kindled sets alight the upper one; and the fire
being driven by the draught into the vein, separates it from the rock
which, however hard it may be, often becomes so softened as to be the
most easily breakable of all. Applying this principle, Hannibal, the
Carthaginian General, imitating the Spanish miners, overcame the
hardness of the Alps by the use of vinegar and fire. Even if a vein is a
very wide one, as tin veins usually are, miners excavate into the small
streaks, and into those hollows they put dry wood and place amongst them
at frequent intervals sticks, all sides of which are shaved down
fan-shaped, which easily take light, and when once they have taken fire
communicate it to the other bundles of wood, which easily ignite.

[Illustration 120 (Fire-setting): A--Kindled logs. B--Sticks shaved down
fan-shaped. C--Tunnel.]

While the heated veins and rock are giving forth a foetid vapour and the
shafts or tunnels are emitting fumes, the miners and other workmen do
not go down in the mines lest the stench affect their health or actually
kill them, as I will explain in greater detail when I come to speak of
the evils which affect miners. The _Bergmeister_, in order to prevent
workmen from being suffocated, gives no one permission to break veins or
rock by fire in shafts or tunnels where it is possible for the poisonous
vapour and smoke to permeate the veins or stringers and pass through
into the neighbouring mines, which have no hard veins or rock. As for
that part of a vein or the surface of the rock which the fire has
separated from the remaining mass, if it is overhead, the miners
dislodge it with a crowbar, or if it still has some degree of hardness,
they thrust a smaller crowbar into the cracks and so break it down, but
if it is on the sides they break it with hammers. Thus broken off, the
rock tumbles down; or if it still remains, they break it off with picks.
Rock and earth on the one hand, and metal and ore on the other, are
filled into buckets separately and drawn up to the open air or to the
nearest tunnel. If the shaft is not deep, the buckets are drawn up by a
machine turned by men; if it is deep, they are drawn by machines turned
by horses.

It often happens that a rush of water or sometimes stagnant air hinders
the mining; for this reason miners pay the greatest attention to these
matters, just as much as to digging, or they should do so. The water of
the veins and stringers and especially of vacant workings, must be
drained out through the shafts and tunnels. Air, indeed, becomes
stagnant both in tunnels and in shafts; in a deep shaft, if it be by
itself, this occurs if it is neither reached by a tunnel nor connected
by a drift with another shaft; this occurs in a tunnel if it has been
driven too far into a mountain and no shaft has yet been sunk deep
enough to meet it; in neither case can the air move or circulate. For
this reason the vapours become heavy and resemble mist, and they smell
of mouldiness, like a vault or some underground chamber which has been
completely closed for many years. This suffices to prevent miners from
continuing their work for long in these places, even if the mine is full
of silver or gold, or if they do continue, they cannot breathe freely
and they have headaches; this more often happens if they work in these
places in great numbers, and bring many lamps, which then supply them
with a feeble light, because the foul air from both lamps and men make
the vapours still more heavy.

A small quantity of water is drawn from the shafts by machines of
different kinds which men turn or work. If so great a quantity has
flowed into one shaft as greatly to impede mining, another shaft is sunk
some fathoms distant from the first, and thus in one of them work and
labour are carried on without hindrance, and the water is drained into
the other, which is sunk lower than the level of the water in the first
one; then by these machines or by those worked by horses, the water is
drawn up into the drain and flows out of the shaft-house or the mouth of
the nearest tunnel. But when into the shaft of one mine, which is sunk
more deeply, there flows all the water of all the neighbouring mines,
not only from that vein in which the shaft is sunk, but also from other
veins, then it becomes necessary for a large sump to be made to collect
the water; from this sump the water is drained by machines which draw it
through pipes, or by ox-hides, about which I will say more in the next
book. The water which pours into the tunnels from the veins and
stringers and seams in the rocks is carried away in the drains.

Air is driven into the extremities of deep shafts and long tunnels by
powerful blowing machines, as I will explain in the following book,
which will deal with these machines also. The outer air flows
spontaneously into the caverns of the earth, and when it can pass
through them comes out again. This, however, comes about in different
ways, for in spring and summer it flows into the deeper shafts,
traverses the tunnels or drifts, and finds its way out of the shallower
shafts; similarly at the same season it pours into the lowest tunnel
and, meeting a shaft in its course, turns aside to a higher tunnel and
passes out therefrom; but in autumn and winter, on the other hand, it
enters the upper tunnel or shaft and comes out at the deeper ones. This
change in the flow of air currents occurs in temperate regions at the
beginning of spring and the end of autumn, but in cold regions at the
end of spring and the beginning of autumn. But at each period, before
the air regularly assumes its own accustomed course, generally for a
space of fourteen days it undergoes frequent variations, now blowing
into an upper shaft or tunnel, now into a lower one. But enough of this,
let us now proceed to what remains.

There are two kinds of shafts, one of the depth already described, of
which kind there are usually several in one mine; especially if the mine
is entered by a tunnel and is metal-bearing. For when the first tunnel
is connected with the first shaft, two new shafts are sunk; or if the
inrush of water hinders sinking, sometimes three are sunk; so that one
may take the place of a sump and the work of sinking which has been
begun may be continued by means of the remaining two shafts; the same is
done in the case of the second tunnel and the third, or even the fourth,
if so many are driven into a mountain. The second kind of shaft is very
deep, sometimes as much as sixty, eighty, or one hundred fathoms. These
shafts continue vertically toward the depths of the earth, and by means
of a hauling-rope the broken rock and metalliferous ores are drawn out
of the mine; for which reason miners call them vertical shafts. Over
these shafts are erected machines by which water is extracted; when they
are above ground the machines are usually worked by horses, but when
they are in tunnels, other kinds are used which are turned by
water-power. Such are the shafts which are sunk when a vein is rich in

Now shafts, of whatever kind they may be, are supported in various ways.
If the vein is hard, and also the hanging and footwall rock, the shaft
does not require much timbering, but timbers are placed at intervals,
one end of each of which is fixed in a hitch cut into the rock of the
hangingwall and the other fixed into a hitch cut in the footwall. To
these timbers are fixed small timbers along the footwall, to which are
fastened the lagging and ladders. The lagging is also fixed to the
timbers, both to those which screen off the shaft on the ends from the
vein, and to those which screen off the rest of the shaft from that part
in which the ladders are placed. The lagging on the sides of the shaft
confine the vein, so as to prevent fragments of it which have become
loosened by water from dropping into the shaft and terrifying, or
injuring, or knocking off the miners and other workmen who are going up
or down the ladders from one part of the mine to another. For the same
reason, the lagging between the ladders and the haulage-way on the other
hand, confine and shut off from the ladders the fragments of rock which
fall from the buckets or baskets while they are being drawn up;
moreover, they make the arduous and difficult descent and ascent to
appear less terrible, and in fact to be less dangerous.

[Illustration 123 (Timbering Shafts): A--Wall plates. B--Dividers.
C--Long end posts. D--End plates.]

If a vein is soft and the rock of the hanging and footwalls is weak, a
closer structure is necessary; for this purpose timbers are joined
together, in rectangular shapes and placed one after the other without a
break. These are arranged on two different systems; for either the
square ends of the timbers, which reach from the hangingwall to the
footwall, are fixed into corresponding square holes in the timbers which
lie along the hanging or footwall, or the upper part of the end of one
and the lower part of the end of the other are cut out and one laid on
the other. The great weight of these joined timbers is sustained by
stout beams placed at intervals, which are deeply set into hitches in
the footwall and hangingwall, but are inclined. In order that these
joined timbers may remain stationary, wooden wedges or poles cut from
trees are driven in between the timbers and the vein and the hangingwall
and the footwall; and the space which remains empty is filled with loose
dirt. If the hanging and footwall rock is sometimes hard and sometimes
soft, and the vein likewise, solid joined timbers are not used, but
timbers are placed at intervals; and where the rock is soft and the vein
crumbling, carpenters put in lagging between them and the wall rocks,
and behind these they fill with loose dirt; by this means they fill up
the void.

When a very deep shaft, whether vertical or inclined, is supported by
joined timbers, then, since they are sometimes of bad material and a
fall is threatened, for the sake of greater firmness three or four pairs
of strong end posts are placed between these, one pair on the
hangingwall side, the other on the footwall side. To prevent them from
falling out of position and to make them firm and substantial, they are
supported by frequent end plates, and in order that these may be more
securely fixed they are mortised into the posts. Further, in whatever
way the shaft may be timbered, dividers are placed upon the wall plates,
and to these is fixed lagging, and this marks off and separates the
ladder-way from the remaining part of the shaft. If a vertical shaft is
a very deep one, planks are laid upon the timbers by the side of the
ladders and fixed on to the timbers, in order that the men who are going
up or down may sit or stand upon them and rest when they are tired. To
prevent danger to the shovellers from rocks which, after being drawn up
from so deep a shaft fall down again, a little above the bottom of the
shaft small rough sticks are placed close together on the timbers, in
such a way as to cover the whole space of the shaft except the
ladder-way. A hole, however, is left in this structure near the
footwall, which is kept open so that there may be one opening to the
shaft from the bottom, that the buckets full of the materials which have
been dug out may be drawn from the shaft through it by machines, and may
be returned to the same place again empty; and so the shovellers and
other workmen, as it were hiding beneath this structure, remain
perfectly safe in the shaft.

[Illustration 125 (Timbering Tunnels): A--Posts. B--Caps. C--Sills.
D--Doors. E--Lagging. F--Drains.]

In mines on one vein there are driven one, two, or sometimes three or
more tunnels, always one above the other. If the vein is solid and hard,
and likewise the hanging and footwall rock, no part of the tunnel needs
support, beyond that which is required at the mouth, because at that
spot there is not yet solid rock; if the vein is soft, and the hanging
and footwall rock are likewise soft, the tunnel requires frequent strong
timbering, which is provided in the following way. First, two dressed
posts are erected and set into the tunnel floor, which is dug out a
little; these are of medium thickness, and high enough that their ends,
which are cut square, almost touch the top of the tunnel; then upon them
is placed a smaller dressed cap, which is mortised into the heads of the
posts; at the bottom, other small timbers, whose ends are similarly
squared, are mortised into the posts. At each interval of one and a half
fathoms, one of these sets is erected; each one of these the miners call
a "little doorway," because it opens a certain amount of passage way;
and indeed, when necessity requires it, doors are fixed to the timbers
of each little doorway so that it can be closed. Then lagging of planks
or of poles is placed upon the caps lengthwise, so as to reach from one
set of timbers to another, and is laid along the sides, in case some
portion of the body of the mountain may fall, and by its bulk impede
passage or crush persons coming in or out. Moreover, to make the timbers
remain stationary, wooden pegs are driven between them and the sides of
the tunnel. Lastly, if rock or earth are carried out in wheelbarrows,
planks joined together are laid upon the sills; if the rock is hauled
out in trucks, then two timbers three-quarters of a foot thick and wide
are laid on the sills, and, where they join, these are usually hollowed
out so that in the hollow, as in a road, the iron pin of the truck may
be pushed along; indeed, because of this pin in the groove, the truck
does not leave the worn track to the left or right. Beneath the sills
are the drains through which the water flows away.

Miners timber drifts in the same way as tunnels. These do not, however,
require sill-pieces, or drains; for the broken rock is not hauled very
far, nor does the water have far to flow. If the vein above is
metal-bearing, as it sometimes is for a distance of several fathoms,
then from the upper part of tunnels or even drifts that have already
been driven, other drifts are driven again and again until that part of
the vein is reached which does not yield metal. The timbering of these
openings is done as follows: stulls are set at intervals into hitches in
the hanging and footwall, and upon them smooth poles are laid
continuously; and that they may be able to bear the weight, the stulls
are generally a foot and a half thick. After the ore has been taken out
and the mining of the vein is being done elsewhere, the rock then
broken, especially if it cannot be taken away without great difficulty,
is thrown into these openings among the timber, and the carriers of the
ore are saved toil, and the owners save half the expense. This then,
generally speaking, is the method by which everything relating to the
timbering of shafts, tunnels, and drifts is carried out.

All that I have hitherto written is in part peculiar to _venae
profundae_, and in part common to all kinds of veins; of what follows,
part is specially applicable to _venae dilatatae_, part to _venae
cumulatae_. But first I will describe how _venae dilatatae_ should be
mined. Where torrents, rivers, or streams have by inundations washed
away part of the slope of a mountain or a hill, and have disclosed a
_vena dilatata_, a tunnel should be driven first straight and narrow,
and then wider, for nearly all the vein should be hewn away; and when
this tunnel has been driven further, a shaft which supplies air should
be sunk in the mountain or hill, and through it from time to time the
ore, earth, and rock can be drawn up at less expense than if they be
drawn out through the very great length of the tunnel; and even in those
places to which the tunnel does not yet reach, miners dig shafts in
order to open a _vena dilatata_ which they conjecture must lie beneath
the soil. In this way, when the upper layers are removed, they dig
through rock sometimes of one kind and colour, sometimes of one kind but
different colours, sometimes of different kinds but of one colour, and,
lastly, of different kinds and different colours. The thickness of rock,
both of each single stratum and of all combined, is uncertain, for the
whole of the strata are in some places twenty fathoms deep, in others
more than fifty; individual strata are in some places half a foot thick;
in others, one, two, or more feet; in others, one, two, three, or more
fathoms. For example, in those districts which lie at the foot of the
Harz mountains, there are many different coloured strata, covering a
copper _vena dilatata_. When the soil has been stripped, first of all is
disclosed a stratum which is red, but of a dull shade and of a thickness
of twenty, thirty, or five and thirty fathoms. Then there is another
stratum, also red, but of a light shade, which has usually a thickness
of about two fathoms. Beneath this is a stratum of ash-coloured clay
nearly a fathom thick, which, although it is not metalliferous, is
reckoned a vein. Then follows a third stratum, which is ashy, and about
three fathoms thick. Beneath this lies a vein of ashes to the thickness
of five fathoms, and these ashes are mixed with rock of the same colour.
Joined to the last, and underneath, comes a stratum, the fourth in
number, dark in colour and a foot thick. Under this comes the fifth
stratum, of a pale or yellowish colour, two feet thick; underneath
which is the sixth stratum, likewise dark, but rough and three feet
thick. Afterward occurs the seventh stratum, likewise of dark colour,
but still darker than the last, and two feet thick. This is followed by
an eighth stratum, ashy, rough, and a foot thick. This kind, as also the
others, is sometimes distinguished by stringers of the stone which
easily melts in fire of the second order. Beneath this is another ashy
rock, light in weight, and five feet thick. Next to this comes a lighter
ash-coloured one, a foot thick; beneath this lies the eleventh stratum,
which is dark and very much like the seventh, and two feet thick. Below
the last is a twelfth stratum of a whitish colour and soft, also two
feet thick; the weight of this rests on a thirteenth stratum, ashy and
one foot thick, whose weight is in turn supported by a fourteenth
stratum, which is blackish and half a foot thick. There follows this,
another stratum of black colour, likewise half a foot thick, which is
again followed by a sixteenth stratum still blacker in colour, whose
thickness is also the same. Beneath this, and last of all, lies the
cupriferous stratum, black coloured and schistose, in which there
sometimes glitter scales of gold-coloured pyrites in the very thin
sheets, which, as I said elsewhere, often take the forms of various
living things.[15]

The miners mine out a _vena dilatata_ laterally and longitudinally by
driving a low tunnel in it, and if the nature of the work and place
permit, they sink also a shaft in order to discover whether there is a
second vein beneath the first one; for sometimes beneath it there are
two, three, or more similar metal-bearing veins, and these are excavated
in the same way laterally and longitudinally. They generally mine _venae
dilatatae_ lying down; and to avoid wearing away their clothes and
injuring their left shoulders they usually bind on themselves small
wooden cradles. For this reason, this particular class of miners, in
order to use their iron tools, are obliged to bend their necks to the
left, not infrequently having them twisted. Now these veins also
sometimes divide, and where these parts re-unite, ore of a richer and a
better quality is generally found; the same thing occurs where the
stringers, of which they are not altogether devoid, join with them, or
cut them crosswise, or divide them obliquely. To prevent a mountain or
hill, which has in this way been undermined, from subsiding by its
weight, either some natural pillars and arches are left, on which the
pressure rests as on a foundation, or timbering is done for support.
Moreover, the materials which are dug out and which are devoid of metal
are removed in bowls, and are thrown back, thus once more filling the

Next, as to _venae cumulatae_. These are dug by a somewhat different
method, for when one of these shows some metal at the top of the ground,
first of all one shaft is sunk; then, if it is worth while, around this
one many shafts are sunk and tunnels are driven into the mountain. If a
torrent or spring has torn fragments of metal from such a vein, a tunnel
is first driven into the mountain or hill for the purpose of searching
for the ore; then when it is found, a vertical shaft is sunk in it.
Since the whole mountain, or more especially the whole hill, is
undermined, seeing that the whole of it is composed of ore, it is
necessary to leave the natural pillars and arches, or the place is
timbered. But sometimes when a vein is very hard it is broken by fire,
whereby it happens that the soft pillars break up, or the timbers are
burnt away, and the mountain by its great weight sinks into itself, and
then the shaft buildings are swallowed up in the great subsidence.
Therefore, about a _vena cumulata_ it is advisable to sink some shafts
which are not subject to this kind of ruin, through which the materials
that are excavated may be carried out, not only while the pillars and
underpinnings still remain whole and solid, but also after the supports
have been destroyed by fire and have fallen. Since ore which has thus
fallen must necessarily be broken by fire, new shafts through which the
smoke can escape must be sunk in the abyss. At those places where
stringers intersect, richer ore is generally obtained from the mine;
these stringers, in the case of tin mines, sometimes have in them black
stones the size of a walnut. If such a vein is found in a plain, as not
infrequently happens in the case of iron, many shafts are sunk, because
they cannot be sunk very deep. The work is carried on by this method
because the miners cannot drive a tunnel into a level plain of this

There remain the stringers in which gold alone is sometimes found, in
the vicinity of rivers and streams, or in swamps. If upon the soil being
removed, many of these are found, composed of earth somewhat baked and
burnt, as may sometimes be seen in clay pits, there is some hope that
gold may be obtained from them, especially if several join together. But
the very point of junction must be pierced, and the length and width
searched for ore, and in these places very deep shafts cannot be sunk.

I have completed one part of this book, and now come to the other, in
which I will deal with the art of surveying. Miners measure the solid
mass of the mountains in order that the owners may lay out their plans,
and that their workmen may not encroach on other people's possessions.
The surveyor either measures the interval not yet wholly dug through,
which lies between the mouth of a tunnel and a shaft to be sunk to that
depth, or between the mouth of a shaft and the tunnel to be driven to
that spot which lies under the shaft, or between both, if the tunnel is
neither so long as to reach to the shaft, nor the shaft so deep as to
reach to the tunnel; and thus on both sides work is still to be done. Or
in some cases, within the tunnels and drifts, are to be fixed the
boundaries of the meers, just as the _Bergmeister_ has determined the
boundaries of the same meers above ground.[16]

Each method of surveying depends on the measuring of triangles. A small
triangle should be laid out, and from it calculations must be made
regarding a larger one. Most particular care must be taken that we do
not deviate at all from a correct measuring; for if, at the beginning,
we are drawn by carelessness into a slight error, this at the end will
produce great errors. Now these triangles are of many shapes, since
shafts differ among themselves and are not all sunk by one and the same
method into the depths of the earth, nor do the slopes of all mountains
come down to the valley or plain in the same manner. For if a shaft is
vertical, there is a triangle with a right angle, which the Greeks call
[Greek: orthogônion] and this, according to the inequalities of the
mountain slope, has either two equal sides or three unequal sides. The
Greeks call the former [Greek: trigônon isoskeles] the latter [Greek:
skalênon] for a right angle triangle cannot have three equal sides. If a
shaft is inclined and sunk in the same vein in which the tunnel is
driven, a triangle is likewise made with a right angle, and this again,
according to the various inequalities of the mountain slope, has either
two equal or three unequal sides. But if a shaft is inclined and is sunk
in one vein, and a tunnel is driven in another vein, then a triangle
comes into existence which has either an obtuse angle or all acute
angles. The former the Greeks call [Greek: amblygônion], the latter
[Greek: oxygônion]. That triangle which has an obtuse angle cannot have
three equal sides, but in accordance with the different mountain slopes
has either two equal sides or three unequal sides. That triangle which
has all acute angles in accordance with the different mountain slopes
has either three equal sides, which the Greeks call [Greek: trigônon
isopleuron] or two equal sides or three unequal sides.

The surveyor, as I said, employs his art when the owners of the mines
desire to know how many fathoms of the intervening ground require to be
dug; when a tunnel is being driven toward a shaft and does not yet reach
it; or when the shaft has not yet been sunk to the depth of the bottom
of the tunnel which is under it; or when neither the tunnel reaches to
that point, nor has the shaft been sunk to it. It is of importance that
miners should know how many fathoms remain from the tunnel to the shaft,
or from the shaft to the tunnel, in order to calculate the expenditure;
and in order that the owners of a metal-bearing mine may hasten the
sinking of a shaft and the excavation of the metal, before the tunnel
reaches that point and the tunnel owners excavate part of the metal by
any right of their own; and on the other hand, it is important that the
owners of a tunnel may similarly hasten their driving before a shaft can
be sunk to the depth of a tunnel, so that they may excavate the metal to
which they will have a right.

[Illustration 131 (Surveying): A--Upright forked posts. B--Pole over the
posts. C--Shaft. D--First cord. E--Weight of first cord. F--Second cord.
G--Same fixed ground. H--Head of first cord. I--Mouth of tunnel.
K--Third cord. L--Weight of third cord. M--First side minor triangle.
N--Second side minor triangle. O--Third side minor triangle. P--The
minor triangle.]

The surveyor, first of all, if the beams of the shaft-house do not give
him the opportunity, sets a pair of forked posts by the sides of the
shaft in such a manner that a pole may be laid across them. Next, from
the pole he lets down into the shaft a cord with a weight attached to
it. Then he stretches a second cord, attached to the upper end of the
first cord, right down along the slope of the mountain to the bottom of
the mouth of the tunnel, and fixes it to the ground. Next, from the same
pole not far from the first cord, he lets down a third cord, similarly
weighted, so that it may intersect the second cord, which descends
obliquely. Then, starting from that point where the third cord cuts the
second cord which descends obliquely to the mouth of the tunnel, he
measures the second cord upward to where it reaches the end of the
first cord, and makes a note of this first side of the minor
triangle[17]. Afterward, starting again from that point where the third
cord intersects the second cord, he measures the straight space which
lies between that point and the opposite point on the first cord, and in
that way forms the minor triangle, and he notes this second side of the
minor triangle in the same way as before. Then, if it is necessary, from
the angle formed by the first cord and the second side of the minor
triangle, he measures upward to the end of the first cord and also makes
a note of this third side of the minor triangle. The third side of the
minor triangle, if the shaft is vertical or inclined and is sunk on the
same vein in which the tunnel is driven, will necessarily be the same
length as the third cord above the point where it intersects the second
cord; and so, as often as the first side of the minor triangle is
contained in the length of the whole cord which descends obliquely, so
many times the length of the second side of the minor triangle indicates
the distance between the mouth of the tunnel and the point to which the
shaft must be sunk; and similarly, so many times the length of the third
side of the minor triangle gives the distance between the mouth of the
shaft and the bottom of the tunnel.

When there is a level bench on the mountain slope, the surveyor first
measures across this with a measuring-rod; then at the edges of this
bench he sets up forked posts, and applies the principle of the triangle
to the two sloping parts of the mountain; and to the fathoms which are
the length of that part of the tunnel determined by the triangles, he
adds the number of fathoms which are the width of the bench. But if
sometimes the mountain side stands up, so that a cord cannot run down
from the shaft to the mouth of the tunnel, or, on the other hand, cannot
run up from the mouth of the tunnel to the shaft, and, therefore, one
cannot connect them in a straight line, the surveyor, in order to fix an
accurate triangle, measures the mountain; and going downward he
substitutes for the first part of the cord a pole one fathom long, and
for the second part a pole half a fathom long. Going upward, on the
contrary, for the first part of the cord he substitutes a pole half a
fathom long, and for the next part, one a whole fathom long; then where
he requires to fix his triangle he adds a straight line to these angles.

[Illustration 133 (Surveying Triangle): A triangle having a right angle
and two equal sides.]

To make this system of measuring clear and more explicit, I will proceed
by describing each separate kind of triangle. When a shaft is vertical
or inclined, and is sunk in the same vein on which the tunnel is driven,
there is created, as I said, a triangle containing a right angle. Now if
the minor triangle has the two sides equal, which, in accordance with
the numbering used by surveyors, are the second and third sides, then
the second and third sides of the major triangle will be equal; and so
also the intervening distances will be equal which lie between the mouth
of the tunnel and the bottom of the shaft, and which lie between the
mouth of the shaft and the bottom of the tunnel. For example, if the
first side of the minor triangle is seven feet long and the second and
likewise the third sides are five feet, and the length shown by the
cord for the side of the major triangle is 101 times seven feet, that is
117 fathoms and five feet, then the intervening space, of course,
whether the whole of it has been already driven through or has yet to be
driven, will be one hundred times five feet, which makes eighty-three
fathoms and two feet. Anyone with this example of proportions will be
able to construct the major and minor triangles in the same way as I
have done, if there be the necessary upright posts and cross-beams. When
a shaft is vertical the triangle is absolutely upright; when it is
inclined and is sunk on the same vein in which the tunnel is driven, it
is inclined toward one side. Therefore, if a tunnel has been driven into
the mountain for sixty fathoms, there remains a space of ground to be
penetrated twenty-three fathoms and two feet long; for five feet of the
second side of the major triangle, which lies above the mouth of the
shaft and corresponds with the first side of the minor triangle, must
not be added. Therefore, if the shaft has been sunk in the middle of the
head meer, a tunnel sixty fathoms long will reach to the boundary of the
meer only when the tunnel has been extended a further two fathoms and
two feet; but if the shaft is located in the middle of an ordinary meer,
then the boundary will be reached when the tunnel has been driven a
further length of nine fathoms and two feet. Since a tunnel, for every
one hundred fathoms of length, rises in grade one fathom, or at all
events, ought to rise as it proceeds toward the shaft, one more fathom
must always be taken from the depth allowed to the shaft, and one added
to the length allowed to the tunnel. Proportionately, because a tunnel
fifty fathoms long is raised half a fathom, this amount must be taken
from the depth of the shaft and added to the length of the tunnel. In
the same way if a tunnel is one hundred or fifty fathoms shorter or
longer, the same proportion also must be taken from the depth of the one
and added to the length of the other. For this reason, in the case
mentioned above, half a fathom and a little more must be added to the
distance to be driven through, so that there remain twenty-three
fathoms, five feet, two palms, one and a half digits and a fifth of a
digit; that is, if even the minutest proportions are carried out; and
surveyors do not neglect these without good cause. Similarly, if the
shaft is seventy fathoms deep, in order that it may reach to the bottom
of the tunnel, it still must be sunk a further depth of thirteen fathoms
and two feet, or rather twelve fathoms and a half, one foot, two digits,
and four-fifths of half a digit. And in this instance five feet must be
deducted from the reckoning, because these five feet complete the third
side of the minor triangle, which is above the mouth of the shaft, and
from its depth there must be deducted half a fathom, two palms, one and
a half digits and the fifth part of half a digit. But if the tunnel has
been driven to a point where it is under the shaft, then to reach the
roof of the tunnel the shaft must still be sunk a depth of eleven
fathoms, two and a half feet, one palm, two digits, and four-fifths of
half a digit.

[Illustration 134 (Surveying Triangle): A triangle having a right angle
and three unequal sides.]

If a minor triangle is produced of the kind having three unequal sides,
then the sides of the greater triangle cannot be equal; that is, if the
first side of the minor triangle is eight feet long, the second six feet
long, and the third five feet long, and the cord along the side of the
greater triangle, not to go too far from the example just given, is one
hundred and one times eight feet, that is, one hundred and thirty-four
fathoms and four feet, the distance which lies between the mouth of the
tunnel and the bottom of the shaft will occupy one hundred times six
feet in length, that is, one hundred fathoms. The distance between the
mouth of the shaft and the bottom of the tunnel is one hundred times
five feet, that is, eighty-three fathoms and two feet. And so, if the
tunnel is eighty-five fathoms long, the remainder to be driven into the
mountain is fifteen fathoms long, and here, too, a correction in
measurement must be taken from the depth of the shaft and added to the
length of the tunnel; what this is precisely, I will pursue no further,
since everyone having a small knowledge of arithmetic can work it out.
If the shaft is sixty-seven fathoms deep, in order that it may reach the
bottom of the tunnel, the further distance required to be sunk amounts
to sixteen fathoms and two feet.

[Illustration 135a (Surveying Triangle): Triangle having an obtuse angle
and two equal sides.]

The surveyor employs this same method in measuring the mountain, whether
the shaft and tunnel are on one and the same vein, whether the vein is
vertical or inclined, or whether the shaft is on the principal vein and
the tunnel on a transverse vein descending vertically to the depths of
the earth; in the latter case the excavation is to be made where the
transverse vein cuts the vertical vein. If the principal vein descends
on an incline and the cross-vein descends vertically, then a minor
triangle is created having one obtuse angle or all three angles acute.
If the minor triangle has one angle obtuse and the two sides which are
the second and third are equal, then the second and third sides of the
major triangle will be equal, so that if the first side of the minor
triangle is nine feet, the second, and likewise the third, will be five
feet. Then the first side of the major triangle will be one hundred and
one times nine feet, or one hundred and fifty-one and one-half fathoms,
and each of the other sides of the major triangle will be one hundred
times five feet, that is, eighty-three fathoms and two feet. But when
the first shaft is inclined, generally speaking, it is not deep; but
there are usually several, all inclined, and one always following the
other. Therefore, if a tunnel is seventy-seven fathoms long, it will
reach to the middle of the bottom of a shaft when six fathoms and two
feet further have been sunk. But if all such inclined shafts are
seventy-six fathoms deep, in order that the last one may reach the
bottom of the tunnel, a depth of seven fathoms and two feet remains to
be sunk.

[Illustration 135b (Surveying Triangle): Triangle having an obtuse angle
and three unequal sides.]

If a minor triangle is made which has an obtuse angle and three unequal
sides, then again the sides of the large triangle cannot be equal. For
example, if the first side of the minor triangle is six feet long, the
second three feet, and the third four feet, and the cord along the side
of the greater triangle one hundred and one times six feet, that is, one
hundred and one fathoms, the distance between the mouth of the tunnel
and the bottom of the last shaft will be a length one hundred times
three feet, or fifty fathoms; but the depth that lies between the mouth
of the first shaft and the bottom of the tunnel is one hundred times
four feet, or sixty-six fathoms and four feet. Therefore, if a tunnel is
forty-four fathoms long, the remaining distance to be driven is six
fathoms. If the shafts are fifty-eight fathoms deep, the newest will
touch the bottom of the tunnel when eight fathoms and four feet have
been sunk.

[Illustration 136a (Surveying Triangle): A triangle having all its
angles acute and its three sides equal.]

If a minor triangle is produced which has all its angles acute and its
three sides equal, then necessarily the second and third sides of the
minor triangle will be equal, and likewise the sides of the major
triangle frequently referred to will be equal. Thus if each side of the
minor triangle is six feet long, and the cord measurement for the side
of the major triangle is one hundred and one times six feet, that is,
one hundred and one fathoms, then both the distances to be dug will be
one hundred fathoms. And thus if the tunnel is ninety fathoms long, it
will reach the middle of the bottom of the last shaft when ten fathoms
further have been driven. If the shafts are ninety-five fathoms deep,
the last will reach the bottom of the tunnel when it is sunk a further
depth of five fathoms.

[Illustration 136b (Surveying Triangle): Triangle having all its angles
acute and two sides equal, A, B, unequal side C.]

If a triangle is made which has all its angles acute, but only two sides
equal, namely, the first and third, then the second and third sides are
not equal; therefore the distances to be dug cannot be equal. For
example, if the first side of the minor triangle is six feet long, and
the second is four feet, and the third is six feet, and the cord
measurement for the side of the major triangle is one hundred and one
times six feet, that is, one hundred and one fathoms, then the distance
between the mouth of the tunnel and the bottom of the last shaft will be
sixty-six fathoms and four feet. But the distance from the mouth of the
first shaft to the bottom of the tunnel is one hundred fathoms. So if
the tunnel is sixty fathoms long, the remaining distance to be driven
into the mountain is six fathoms and four feet. If the shaft is
ninety-seven fathoms deep, the last one will reach the bottom of the
tunnel when a further depth of three fathoms has been sunk.

[Illustration 137 (Surveying Triangle): A triangle having all its angles
acute and its three sides unequal.]

If a minor triangle is produced which has all its angles acute, but its
three sides unequal, then again the distances to be dug cannot be equal.
For example, if the first side of the minor triangle is seven feet long,
the second side is four feet, and the third side is six feet, and the
cord measurement for the side of the major triangle is one hundred and
one times seven feet or one hundred and seventeen fathoms and four feet,
the distance between the mouth of the tunnel and the bottom of the last
shaft will be four hundred feet or sixty-six fathoms, and the depth
between the mouth of the first shaft and the bottom of the tunnel will
be one hundred fathoms. Therefore, if a tunnel is fifty fathoms long, it
will reach the middle of the bottom of the newest shaft when it has been
driven sixteen fathoms and four feet further. But if the shafts are then
ninety-two fathoms deep, the last shaft will reach the bottom of the
tunnel when it has been sunk a further eight fathoms.

This is the method of the surveyor in measuring the mountain, if the
principal vein descends inclined into the depths of the earth or the
transverse vein is vertical. But if they are both inclined, the surveyor
uses the same method, or he measures the slope of the mountain
separately from the slope of the shaft. Next, if a transverse vein in
which a tunnel is driven does not cut the principal vein in that spot
where the shaft is sunk, then it is necessary for the starting point of
the survey to be in the other shaft in which the transverse vein cuts
the principal vein. But if there be no shaft on that spot where the
outcrop of the transverse vein cuts the outcrop of the principal vein,
then the surface of the ground which lies between the shafts must be
measured, or that between the shaft and the place where the outcrop of
the one vein intersects the outcrop of the other.

[Illustration 138 (Hemicycle): A--Waxed semicircle of the hemicycle.
B--Semicircular lines. C--Straight lines. D--Line measuring the half.
E--Line measuring the whole. F--Tongue.]

[Illustration 138A (Surveying Rods): A--Lines of the rod which separate
minor spaces. B--Lines of the rod which separate major spaces.]

Some surveyors, although they use three cords, nevertheless ascertain
only the length of a tunnel by that method of measuring, and determine
the depth of a shaft by another method; that is, by the method by which
cords are re-stretched on a level part of the mountain or in a valley,
or in flat fields, and are measured again. Some, however, do not employ
this method in surveying the depth of a shaft and the length of a
tunnel, but use only two cords, a graduated hemicycle[18] and a rod half
a fathom long. They suspend in the shaft one cord, fastened from the
upper pole and weighted, just as the others do. Fastened to the upper
end of this cord, they stretch another right down the slope of the
mountain to the bottom of the mouth of the tunnel and fix it to the
ground. Then to the upper part of this second cord they apply on its
lower side the broad part of a hemicycle. This consists of half a
circle, the outer margin of which is covered with wax, and within this
are six semi-circular lines. From the waxed margin through the first
semi-circular line, and reaching to the second, there proceed straight
lines converging toward the centre of the hemicycle; these mark the
middles of intervening spaces lying between other straight lines which
extend to the fourth semi-circular line. But all lines whatsoever, from
the waxed margin up to the fourth line, whether they go beyond it or
not, correspond with the graduated lines which mark the minor spaces of
a rod. Those which go beyond the fourth line correspond with the lines
marking the major spaces on the rod, and those which proceed further,
mark the middle of the intervening space which lies between the others.
The straight lines, which run from the fifth to the sixth semi-circular
line, show nothing further. Nor does the line which measures the half,
show anything when it has already passed from the sixth straight line to
the base of the hemicycle. When the hemicycle is applied to the cord, if
its tongue indicates the sixth straight line which lies between the
second and third semi-circular lines, the surveyor counts on the rod six
lines which separate the minor spaces, and if the length of this portion
of the rod be taken from the second cord, as many times as the cord
itself is half-fathoms long, the remaining length of cord shows the
distance the tunnel must be driven to reach under the shaft. But if he
sees that the tongue has gone so far that it marks the sixth line
between the fourth and fifth semi-circular lines, he counts six lines
which separate the major spaces on the rod; and this entire space is
deducted from the length of the second cord, as many times as the number
of whole fathoms which the cord contains; and then, in like manner, the
remaining length of cord shows us the distance the tunnel must be driven
to reach under the shaft.[19]

[Illustration 139 (Surveying Triangle): Stretched cords: A--First cord.
B--Second cord. C--Third cord. D--Triangle.]

Both these surveyors, as well as the others, in the first place make
use of the haulage rope. These they measure by means of others made of
linden bark, because the latter do not stretch at all, while the former
become very slack. These cords they stretch on the surveyor's field, the
first one to represent the parts of mountain slopes which descend
obliquely. Then the second cord, which represents the length of the
tunnel to be driven to reach the shaft, they place straight, in such a
direction that one end of it can touch the lower end of the first cord;
then they similarly lay the third cord straight, and in such a direction
that its upper end may touch the upper end of the first cord, and its
lower end the other extremity of the second cord, and thus a triangle is
formed. This third cord is measured by the instrument with the index, to
determine its relation to the perpendicular; and the length of this cord
shows the depth of the shaft.

[Illustration 140 (Surveying Triangles): Stretched cords: A--First.
B--Second. B--Third. C--Fourth. C--Fifth. D--Quadrangle.]

Some surveyors, to make their system of measuring the depth of a shaft
more certain, use five stretched cords: the first one descending
obliquely; two, that is to say the second and third, for ascertaining
the length of the tunnel; two for the depth of the shaft; in which way
they form a quadrangle divided into two equal triangles, and this tends
to greater accuracy.

These systems of measuring the depth of a shaft and the length of a
tunnel, are accurate when the vein and also the shaft or shafts go down
to the tunnel vertically or inclined, in an uninterrupted course. The
same is true when a tunnel runs straight on to a shaft. But when each of
them bends now in this, now in that direction, if they have not been
completely driven and sunk, no living man is clever enough to judge how
far they are deflected from a straight course. But if the whole of
either one of the two has been excavated its full distance, then we can
estimate more easily the length of one, or the depth of the other; and
so the location of the tunnel, which is below a newly-started shaft, is
determined by a method of surveying which I will describe. First of all
a tripod is fixed at the mouth of the tunnel, and likewise at the mouth
of the shaft which has been started, or at the place where the shaft
will be started. The tripod is made of three stakes fixed to the ground,
a small rectangular board being placed upon the stakes and fixed to
them, and on this is set a compass. Then from the lower tripod a
weighted cord is let down perpendicularly to the earth, close to which
cord a stake is fixed in the ground. To this stake another cord is tied
and drawn straight into the tunnel to a point as far as it can go
without being bent by the hangingwall or the footwall of the vein. Next,
from the cord which hangs from the lower tripod, a third cord likewise
fixed is brought straight up the sloping side of the mountain to the
stake of the upper tripod, and fastened to it. In order that the
measuring of the depth of the shaft may be more certain, the third cord
should touch one and the same side of the cord hanging from the lower
tripod which is touched by the second cord--the one which is drawn into
the tunnel. All this having been correctly carried out, the surveyor,
when at length the cord which has been drawn straight into the tunnel is
about to be bent by the hangingwall or footwall, places a plank in the
bottom of the tunnel and on it sets the orbis, an instrument which has
an indicator peculiar to itself. This instrument, although it also has
waxed circles, differs from the other, which I have described in the
third book. But by both these instruments, as well as by a rule and a
square, he determines whether the stretched cords reach straight to the
extreme end of the tunnel, or whether they sometimes reach straight, and
are sometimes bent by the footwall or hangingwall. Each instrument is
divided into parts, but the compass into twenty-four parts, the orbis
into sixteen parts; for first of all it is divided into four principal
parts, and then each of these is again divided into four. Both have
waxed circles, but the compass has seven circles, and the orbis only
five circles. These waxed circles the surveyor marks, whichever
instrument he uses, and by the succession of these same marks he notes
any change in the direction in which the cord extends. The orbis has an
opening running from its outer edge as far as the centre, into which
opening he puts an iron screw, to which he binds the second cord, and by
screwing it into the plank, fixes it so that the orbis may be immovable.
He takes care to prevent the second cord, and afterward the others which
are put up, from being pulled off the screw, by employing a heavy iron,
into an opening of which he fixes the head of the screw. In the case of
the compass, since it has no opening, he merely places it by the side of
the screw. That the instrument does not incline forward or backward, and
in that way the measurement become a greater length than it should be,
he sets upon the instrument a standing plummet level, the tongue of
which, if the instrument is level, indicates no numbers, but the point
from which the numbers start.

[Illustration 142 (Compass): Compass. A, B, C, D, E, F, G are the seven
waxed circles.]

[Illustration 142A (Orbis): A, B, C, D, E--Five waxed circles of the
_orbis_. F--Opening of same. G--Screw. H--Perforated iron.]

[Illustration 143 (Miner using level): A--Standing plummet level.
B--Tongue. C--Level and tongue.]

When the surveyor has carefully observed each separate angle of the
tunnel and has measured such parts as he ought to measure, then he lays
them out in the same way on the surveyor's field[20] in the open air,
and again no less carefully observes each separate angle and measures
them. First of all, to each angle, according as the calculation of his
triangle and his art require it, he lays out a straight cord as a line.
Then he stretches a cord at such an angle as represents the slope of
the mountain, so that its lower end may reach the end of the straight
cord; then he stretches a third cord similarly straight and at such an
angle, that with its upper end it may reach the upper end of the second
cord, and with its lower end the last end of the first cord. The length
of the third cord shows the depth of the shaft, as I said before, and at
the same time that point on the tunnel to which the shaft will reach
when it has been sunk.

If one or more shafts reach the tunnel through intermediate drifts and
shafts, the surveyor, starting from the nearest which is open to the
air, measures in a shorter time the depth of the shaft which requires to
be sunk, than if he starts from the mouth of the tunnel. First of all he
measures that space on the surface which lies between the shaft which
has been sunk and the one which requires to be sunk. Then he measures
the incline of all the shafts which it is necessary to measure, and the
length of all the drifts with which they are in any way connected to the
tunnel. Lastly, he measures part of the tunnel; and when all this is
properly done, he demonstrates the depth of the shaft and the point in
the tunnel to which the shaft will reach. But sometimes a very deep
straight shaft requires to be sunk at the same place where there is a
previous inclined shaft, and to the same depth, in order that loads may
be raised and drawn straight up by machines. Those machines on the
surface are turned by horses; those inside the earth, by the same means,
and also by water-power. And so, if it becomes necessary to sink such a
shaft, the surveyor first of all fixes an iron screw in the upper part
of the old shaft, and from the screw he lets down a cord as far as the
first angle, where again he fixes a screw, and again lets down the cord
as far as the second angle; this he repeats again and again until the
cord reaches to the bottom of the shaft. Then to each angle of the cord
he applies a hemicycle, and marks the waxed semi-circle according to the
lines which the tongue indicates, and designates it by a number, in case
it should be moved; then he measures the separate parts of the cord with
another cord made of linden bark. Afterward, when he has come back out
of the shaft, he goes away and transfers the markings from the waxed
semi-circle of the hemicycle to an orbis similarly waxed. Lastly, the
cords are stretched on the surveyor's field, and he measures the angles,
as the system of measuring by triangles requires, and ascertains which
part of the footwall and which part of the hangingwall rock must be cut
away in order that the shaft may descend straight. But if the surveyor
is required to show the owners of the mine, the spot in a drift or a
tunnel in which a shaft needs to be raised from the bottom upward, that
it should cut through more quickly, he begins measuring from the bottom
of the drift or tunnel, at a point beyond the spot at which the bottom
of the shaft will arrive, when it has been sunk. When he has measured
the part of the drift or tunnel up to the first shaft which connects
with an upper drift, he measures the incline of this shaft by applying a
hemicycle or orbis to the cord. Then in a like manner he measures the
upper drift and the incline shaft which is sunk therein toward which a
raise is being dug, then again all the cords are stretched in the
surveyor's field, the last cord in such a way that it reaches the first,
and then he measures them. From this measurement is known in what part
of the drift or tunnel the raise should be made, and how many fathoms
of vein remain to be broken through in order that the shaft may be

I have described the first reason for surveying; I will now describe
another. When one vein comes near another, and their owners are
different persons who have late come into possession, whether they drive
a tunnel or a drift, or sink a shaft, they may encroach, or seem to
encroach, without any lawful right, upon the boundaries of the older
owners, for which reason the latter very often seek redress, or take
legal proceedings. The surveyor either himself settles the dispute
between the owners, or by his art gives evidence to the judges for
making their decision, that one shall not encroach on the mine of the
other. Thus, first of all he measures the mines of each party with a
basket rope and cords of linden bark; and having applied to the cords an
orbis or a compass, he notes the directions in which they extend. Then
he stretches the cords on the surveyor's field; and starting from that
point whose owners are in possession of the old meer toward the other,
whether it is in the hanging or footwall of the vein, he stretches a
cross-cord in a straight line, according to the sixth division of the
compass, that is, at a right angle to the vein, for a distance of three
and a half fathoms, and assigns to the older owners that which belongs
to them. But if both ends of one vein are being dug out in two tunnels,
or drifts from opposite directions, the surveyor first of all considers
the lower tunnel or drift and afterward the upper one, and judges how
much each of them has risen little by little. On each side strong men
take in their hands a stretched cord and hold it so that there is no
point where it is not strained tight; on each side the surveyor supports
the cord with a rod half a fathom long, and stays the rod at the end
with a short stick as often as he thinks it necessary. But some fasten
cords to the rods to make them steadier. The surveyor attaches a
suspended plummet level to the middle of the cord to enable him to
calculate more accurately on both sides, and from this he ascertains
whether one tunnel has risen more than another, or in like manner one
drift more than another. Afterward he measures the incline of the shafts
on both sides, so that he can estimate their position on each side. Then
he easily sees how many fathoms remain in the space which must be broken
through. But the grade of each tunnel, as I said, should rise one fathom
in the distance of one hundred fathoms.

[Illustration 146 (Plummet cord and weight): Indicator of a suspended
plummet level.]

[Illustration 147 (Compass): A--Needle of the instrument. B--Its tongue.
C, D, E--Holes in the tongue.]

The Swiss surveyors, when they wish to measure tunnels driven into the
highest mountains, also use a rod half a fathom long, but composed of
three parts, which screw together, so that they may be shortened. They
use a cord made of linden bark to which are fastened slips of paper
showing the number of fathoms. They also employ an instrument peculiar
to them, which has a needle; but in place of the waxed circles they
carry in their hands a chart on which they inscribe the readings of the
instrument. The instrument is placed on the back part of the rod so that
the tongue, and the extended cord which runs through the three holes in
the tongue, demonstrates the direction, and they note the number of
fathoms. The tongue shows whether the cord inclines forward or backward.
The tongue does not hang, as in the case of the suspended plummet
level, but is fixed to the instrument in a half-lying position. They
measure the tunnels for the purpose of knowing how many fathoms they
have been increased in elevation; how many fathoms the lower is distant
from the upper one; how many fathoms of interval is not yet pierced
between the miners who on opposite sides are digging on the same vein,
or cross-stringers, or two veins which are approaching one another.

But I return to our mines. If the surveyor desires to fix the boundaries
of the meer within the tunnels or drifts, and mark to them with a sign
cut in the rock, in the same way that the _Bergmeister_ has marked these
boundaries above ground, he first of all ascertains, by measuring in the
manner which I have explained above, which part of the tunnel or drift
lies beneath the surface boundary mark, stretching the cords along the
drifts to a point beyond that spot in the rock where he judges the mark
should be cut. Then, after the same cords have been laid out on the
surveyor's field, he starts from that upper cord at a point which shows
the boundary mark, and stretches another cross-cord straight downward
according to the sixth division of the compass--that is at a right
angle. Then that part of the lowest cord which lies beyond the part to
which the cross-cord runs being removed, it shows at what point the
boundary mark should be cut into the rock of the tunnel or drift. The
cutting is made in the presence of the two Jurors and the manager and
the foreman of each mine. For as the _Bergmeister_ in the presence of
these same persons sets the boundary stones on the surface, so the
surveyor cuts in the rock a sign which for this reason is called the
boundary rock. If he fixes the boundary mark of a meer in which a shaft
has recently begun to be sunk on a vein, first of all he measures and
notes the incline of that shaft by the compass or by another way with
the applied cords; then he measures all the drifts up to that one in
whose rock the boundary mark has to be cut. Of these drifts he measures
each angle; then the cords, being laid out on the surveyor's field, in a
similar way he stretches a cross-cord, as I said, and cuts the sign on
the rock. But if the underground boundary rock has to be cut in a drift
which lies beneath the first drift, the surveyor starts from the mark in
the first drift, notes the different angles, one by one, takes his
measurements, and in the lower drift stretches a cord beyond that place
where he judges the mark ought to be cut; and then, as I said before,
lays out the cords on the surveyor's field. Even if a vein runs
differently in the lower drift from the upper one, in which the first
boundary mark has been cut in the rock, still, in the lower drift the
mark must be cut in the rock vertically beneath. For if he cuts the
lower mark obliquely from the upper one some part of the possession of
one mine is taken away to its detriment, and given to the other.
Moreover, if it happens that the underground boundary mark requires to
be cut in an angle, the surveyor, starting from that angle, measures one
fathom toward the front of the mine and another fathom toward the back,
and from these measurements forms a triangle, and dividing its middle by
a cross-cord, makes his cutting for the boundary mark.

Lastly, the surveyor sometimes, in order to make more certain, finds the
boundary of the meers in those places where many old boundary marks are
cut in the rock. Then, starting from a stake fixed on the surface, he
first of all measures to the nearest mine; then he measures one shaft
after another; then he fixes a stake on the surveyors' field, and making
a beginning from it stretches the same cords in the same way and
measures them, and again fixes in the ground a stake which for him will
signify the end of his measuring. Afterward he again measures
underground from that spot at which he left off, as many shafts and
drifts as he can remember. Then he returns to the surveyor's field, and
starting again from the second stake, makes his measurements; and he
does this as far as the drift in which the boundary mark must be cut in
the rock. Finally, commencing from the stake first fixed in the ground,
he stretches a cross-cord in a straight line to the last stake, and this
shows the length of the lowest drift. The point where they touch, he
judges to be the place where the underground boundary mark should be



[1] It has been suggested that we should adopt throughout this volume
the mechanical and mining terms used in English mines at Agricola's
time. We believe, however, that but a little inquiry would illustrate
the undesirability of this course as a whole. Where there is choice in
modern miner's nomenclature between an old and a modern term, we have
leaned toward age, if it be a term generally understood. But except
where the subject described has itself become obsolete, we have revived
no obsolete terms. In substantiation of this view, we append a few
examples of terms which served the English miner well for centuries,
some of which are still extant in some local communities, yet we believe
they would carry as little meaning to the average reader as would the
reproduction of the Latin terms coined by Agricola.

  Rake     = A perpendicular vein.
  Woughs   = Walls of the vein.
  Shakes   = Cracks in the walls.
  Flookan  = Gouge.
  Bryle    = Outcrop.
  Hade     = Incline or underlay of the vein.
  Dawling  = Impoverishment of the vein.
  Rither   = A "horse" in a vein.
  Twitches = "Pinching" of a vein.
  Slough   = Drainage tunnel.
  Sole     = Lowest drift.
  Stool    = Face of a drift or stope.
  Winds }
  Turn  }  = Winze.
  Grove    = Shaft.
  Dutins   = Set of timber.
  Stemple  = Post or stull.
  Laths    = Lagging.

As examples of the author's coinage and adaptations of terms in this
book we may cite:--

  _Fossa latens_                = Drift.
  _Fossa latens transversa_     = Crosscut.
  _Tectum_                      = Hangingwall.
  _Fundamentum_                 = Footwall.
  _Tigna per intervalla posita_ = Wall plate.
  _Arbores dissectae_           = Lagging.
  _Formae_                      = Hitches.

We have adopted the term "tunnel" for openings by way of outlet to the
mine. The word in this narrow sense is as old as "adit," a term less
expressive and not so generally used in the English-speaking mining
world. We have for the same reason adopted the word "drift" instead of
the term "level" so generally used in America, because that term always
leads to confusion in discussion of mine surveys. We may mention,
however, that the term "level" is a heritage from the Derbyshire mines,
and is of an equally respectable age as "drift."

[2] See note on p. 46-47. The _canales_, as here used, were the openings
in the earth, in which minerals were deposited.

[3] This statement, as will appear by the description later on, refers
to the depth of winzes or to the distance between drifts, that is "the
lift." We have not, however, been justified in using the term "winze,"
because some of these were openings to the surface. As showing the
considerable depth of shafts in Agricola's time, we may quote the
following from _Bermannus_ (p. 442): "The depths of our shafts forced us
to invent hauling machines suitable for them. There are some of them
larger and more ingenious than this one, for use in deep shafts, as, for
instance, those in my native town of Geyer, but more especially at
Schneeberg, where the shaft of the mine from which so much treasure was
taken in our memory has reached the depth of about 200 fathoms (feet?),
wherefore the necessity of this kind of machinery. _Naevius_: What an
enormous depth! Have you reached the Inferno? _Bermannus_: Oh, at
Kuttenberg there are shafts more than 500 fathoms (feet?) deep.
_Naevius_: And not yet reached the Kingdom of Pluto?" It is impossible
to accept these as fathoms, as this would in the last case represent
3,000 feet vertically. The expression used, however, for fathoms is
_passus_, presumably the Roman measure equal to 58.1 inches.

[4] _Cavernos_. The Glossary gives _drusen_, our word _drusy_ having had
this origin.

[5] _Purum_,--"pure." _Interpretatio_ gives the German as

[6] _Rudis_,--"Crude." By this expression the author really means ores
very rich in any designated metal. In many cases it serves to indicate
the minerals of a given metal, as distinguished from the metal itself.
Our system of mineralogy obviously does not afford an acceptable
equivalent. Agricola (_De Nat. Foss._, p. 360) says: "I find it
necessary to call each genus (of the metallic minerals) by the name of
its own metal, and to this I add a word which differentiates it from the
pure (_puro_) metal, whether the latter has been mined or smelted; so I
speak of _rudis_ gold, silver, quicksilver, copper, tin, bismuth, lead,
or iron. This is not because I am unaware that Varro called silver
_rudis_ which had not yet been refined and stamped, but because a word
which will distinguish the one from the other is not to be found."

[7] The reasons for retaining the Latin weights are given in the
Appendix on Weights and Measures. A _centumpondium_ weighs 70.6 lbs.
avoirdupois, an _uncia_ 412.2 Troy grains, therefore, this value is
equal to 72 ounces 18 pennyweights per short ton.

[8] Agricola mentions many minerals in _De Re Metallica_, but without
such description as would make possible a hazard at their identity. From
his _De Natura Fossilium_, however, and from other mineralogies of the
16th Century, some can be fully identified and others surmised. While we
consider it desirable to set out the probable composition of these
minerals, on account of the space required, the reasons upon which our
opinion has been based cannot be given in detail, as that would require
extensive quotations. In a general way, we have throughout the text
studiously evaded the use of modern mineralogical terms--unless the term
used to-day is of Agricola's age--and have adopted either old English
terms of pre-chemistry times or more loose terms used by common miners.
Obviously modern mineralogic terms imply a precision of knowledge not
existing at that period. It must not be assumed that the following is by
any means a complete list of the minerals described by Agricola, but
they include most of those referred to in this chapter. His system of
mineralogy we have set out in note 4, p. 1, and it requires no further
comment here. The grouping given below is simply for convenience and
does not follow Agricola's method. Where possible, we tabulate in
columns the Latin term used in _De Re Metallica_; the German equivalent
given by the Author in either the _Interpretatio_ or the Glossary; our
view of the probable modern equivalent based on investigation of his
other works and other ancient mineralogies, and lastly the terms we have
adopted in the text. The German spelling is that given in the original.
As an indication of Agricola's position as a mineralogist, we mark with
an asterisk the minerals which were first specifically described by him.
We also give some notes on matters of importance bearing on the
nomenclature used in _De Re Metallica_. Historical notes on the chief
metals will be found elsewhere, generally with the discussion of
smelting methods. We should not omit to express our indebtedness to
Dana's great "System of Mineralogy," in the matter of correlation of
many old and modern minerals.

GOLD MINERALS. Agricola apparently believed that there were various gold
minerals, green, yellow, purple, black, etc. There is nothing, however,
in his works that permits of any attempt to identify them, and his
classification seems to rest on gangue colours.


  _Argentum purum in  _Gedigen silber_        --            *Native silver
    venis reperitur_

  _Argentum rude_     _Gedigen silber         --            _Rudis_ silver, or
                        ertz_                                 pure silver

  _Argentum rude      _Glas ertz_        Argentite          *Silver glance
    plumbei coloris_                      (Ag_{2}S)

  _Argentum rude      _Rot gold ertz_    Pyrargyrite        *Red silver
    rubrum_                               (Ag_{3}SbS_{3})

  _Argentum rude      _Durchsichtig      Proustite          *Ruby silver
    rubrum              rod gulden        (Ag_{3}AsS_{3})
    translucidum_       ertz_

  _Argentum rude      _Weis rod gulden        --            White silver
    album_              ertz: Dan es
                        ist frisch wie
                        offtmals rod
                        gulden ertz
                        pfleget zusein_

  _Argentum rude      _Gedigen           Part Bromyrite     Liver-coloured
    jecoris             leberfarbig        (Ag Br)           silver
    colore_             ertz_

  _Argentum rude      _Gedigen               --             Yellow silver
    luteum_             geelertz_

  _Argentum rude      _Gedigen graw    }                  { *Grey silver
    cineraceum_         ertz_          } Part Cerargurite {
                                       } (Ag Cl) (Horn    {
  _Argentum rude      _Gedigen         } Silver) Part     { *Black silver
    nigrum_            schwartz ertz_  } Stephanite       {
                                       } (Ag_{5}SbS_{4})  {
  _Argentum rude      _Gedigen braun   }                  { *Purple silver
    purpureum_          ertz_          }                  {

The last six may be in part also alteration products from all silver

The reasons for indefiniteness in determination usually lie in the
failure of ancient authors to give sufficient or characteristic
descriptions. In many cases Agricola is sufficiently definite as to
assure certainty, as the following description of what we consider to be
silver glance, from _De Natura Fossilium_ (p. 360), will indicate:
"Lead-coloured _rudis_ silver is called by the Germans from the word
glass (_glasertz_), not from lead. Indeed, it has the colour of the
latter or of galena (_plumbago_), but not of glass, nor is it
transparent like glass, which one might indeed expect had the name been
correctly derived. This mineral is occasionally so like galena in
colour, although it is darker, that one who is not experienced in
minerals is unable to distinguish between the two at sight, but in
substance they differ greatly from one another. Nature has made this
kind of silver out of a little earth and much silver. Whereas galena
consists of stone and lead containing some silver. But the distinction
between them can be easily determined, for galena may be ground to
powder in a mortar with a pestle, but this treatment flattens out this
kind of _rudis_ silver. Also galena, when struck by a mallet or bitten
or hacked with a knife, splits and breaks to pieces; whereas this silver
is malleable under the hammer, may be dented by the teeth, and cut with
a knife."


  _Aes purum          _Gedigen kupfer_   Native copper      Native copper

  _Aes rude           _Kupferglas ertz_  Chalcocite         *Copper glance
    plumbei                               (Cu_{2}S)

  _Chalcitis_         _Rodt atrament_    A decomposed       _Chalcitis_ (see
                                           copper or          notes on p. 573)
                                           iron sulphide

  _Pyrites aurei    } _Geelkis oder    { Part chalcopyrite  Copper pyrites
    colore_         }   kupferkis_     {  (Cu Fe S) part
                    }                  {  bornite
  _Pyrites aerosus_ }                  {  (Cu_{3}FeS_{3})

  _Caeruleum_         _Berglasur_        Azurite            Azure

  _Chrysocolla_       _Berggrün und    { Part chrysocolla   Chrysocolla (see
                        schifergrün_   { Part Malachite      note 7, p. 560)

  _Molochites_        _Molochit_         Malachite          Malachite

  _Lapis aerarius_    _Kupfer ertz_          --             Copper ore

  _Aes caldarium    } _Lebeter kupfer_  { When used for
    rubrum fuscum_  }                   {   an ore, is      *Ruby copper ore
         or         }                   {   probably
  _Aes sui coloris_ } _Rotkupfer_       {   cuprite

  _Aes nigrum_        _Schwartz kupfer_  Probably CuO from  *Black copper
                                           oxidation of
                                           other minerals

In addition to the above the Author uses the following, which were in
the main artificial products:

  _Aerugo_            _Grünspan oder     Verdigris          Verdigris

  _Aes luteum_        _Gelfarkupfer_   } Impure blister   { Unrefined copper
                                       }   copper         {  (see note 16,
                                       }                  {  p. 511)
  _Aes caldarium_     _Lebeterkupfer_  }                  {

  _Aeris flos_        _Kupferbraun_    } Cupric oxide     { Copper flower
                                       }   scales         {
                                       }                  {
  _Aeris squama_      _Kupferhammer-   }                  { Copper scale (see
                        schlag_        }                  {   note 9, p. 233)

  _Atramentum         _Blaw kupfer       Chalcanthite       Native blue
    sutorium            wasser_                               vitriol (see
    caeruleum_ or                                             note on p. 572)

Blue and green copper minerals were distinguished by all the ancient
mineralogists. Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Pliny, etc., all give
sufficient detail to identify their _cyanus_ and _caeruleum_ partly with
modern azurite, and their _chrysocolla_ partly with the modern mineral
of the same name. However, these terms were also used for vegetable
pigments, as well as for the pigments made from the minerals. The Greek
origin of _chrysocolla_ (_chrysos_, gold and _kolla_, solder) may be
blamed with another and distinct line of confusion, in that this term
has been applied to soldering materials, from Greek down to modern
times, some of the ancient mineralogists even asserting that the copper
mineral _chrysocolla_ was used for this purpose. Agricola uses
_chrysocolla_ for borax, but is careful to state in every case (see note
xx., p. x): "_Chrysocolla_ made from _nitrum_," or "_Chrysocolla_ which
the Moors call Borax." Dioscorides and Pliny mention substances which
were evidently copper sulphides, but no description occurs prior to
Agricola that permits a hazard as to different species.


  _Plumbarius lapis_  _Glantz_           Galena             Galena

  _Galena_            _Glantz und        Galena             Galena

  _Plumbum nigrum   } _Pleiertz oder     Cerussite          Yellow lead ore
    lutei coloris_  }   pleischweis_       (PbCO_{3})
  _Plumbago         }
    metallica_      }

  _Cerussa_           _Pleiweis_         Artificial         White-lead (see
                                           White-lead         note 4, p. 440)

  _Ochra facticia_    _Pleigeel_         Massicot (Pb O)    *Lead-ochre (see
    or _ochra                                                 note 8, p. 232)

  _Molybdaena_      } _Herdplei_         Part litharge      Hearth-lead (see
                    }                                         note 37, p. 476)
  _Plumbago         }
    fornacis_       }

  _Spuma argenti_   } _Glett_            Litharge           Litharge (see note
                    }                                         on p. 465)
  _Lithargyrum_     }

  _Minium             _Menning_          Minium             Red-lead (see note
    secundarium_                          (Pb_{3}O_{4})       7, p. 232)

So far as we can determine, all of these except the first three were
believed by Agricola to be artificial products. Of the first three,
galena is certain enough, but while he obviously was familiar with the
alteration lead products, his descriptions are inadequate and much
confused with the artificial oxides. Great confusion arises in the
ancient mineralogies over the terms _molybdaena_, _plumbago_, _plumbum_,
_galena_, and _spuma argenti_, all of which, from Roman mineralogists
down to a century after Agricola, were used for lead in some form.
Further discussion of such confusion will be found in note 37, p. 476.
Agricola in _Bermannus_ and _De Natura Fossilium_, devotes pages to
endeavouring to reconcile the ancient usages of these terms, and all the
confusion existing in Agricola's time was thrice confounded when the
names _molybdaena_ and _plumbago_ were assigned to non-lead minerals.

TIN. Agricola knew only one tin mineral: _Lapilli nigri ex quibus
conflatur plumbum candidum_, _i.e._, "Little black stones from which tin
is smelted," and he gives the German equivalent as _zwitter_,
"tin-stone." He describes them as being of different colours, but
probably due to external causes.

ANTIMONY. (_Interpretatio_,--_spiesglas_.) The _stibi_ or _stibium_ of
Agricola was no doubt the sulphide, and he follows Dioscorides in
dividing it into male and female species. This distinction, however, is
impossible to apply from the inadequate descriptions given. The mineral
and metal known to Agricola and his predecessors was almost always the
sulphide, and we have not felt justified in using the term antimony
alone, as that implies the refined product, therefore, we have adopted
either the Latin term or the old English term "grey antimony." The
smelted antimony of commerce sold under the latter term was the
sulphide. For further notes see p. 428.

BISMUTH*. _Plumbum cinereum_ (_Interpretatio_,--_bismut_). Agricola
states that this mineral occasionally occurs native, "but more often as
a mineral of another colour" (_De Nat. Fos._, p. 337), and he also
describes its commonest form as black or grey. This, considering his
localities, would indicate the sulphide, although he assigns no special
name to it. Although bismuth is mentioned before Agricola in the
_Nützliche Bergbüchlin_, he was the first to describe it (see p. 433).

QUICKSILVER. Apart from native quicksilver, Agricola adequately
describes cinnabar only. The term used by him for the mineral is _minium
nativum_ (_Interpretatio_,--_bergzinober_ or _cinnabaris_). He makes the
curious statement _(De Nat. Fos._ p. 335) that _rudis_ quicksilver also
occurs liver-coloured and blackish,--probably gangue colours. (See p.

ARSENICAL MINERALS. Metallic arsenic was unknown, although it has been
maintained that a substance mentioned by Albertus Magnus (_De Rebus
Metallicis_) was the metallic form. Agricola, who was familiar with all
Albertus's writings, makes no mention of it, and it appears to us that
the statement of Albertus referred only to the oxide from sublimation.
Our word "arsenic" obviously takes root in the Greek for orpiment, which
was also used by Pliny (XXXIV, 56) as _arrhenicum_, and later was
modified to _arsenicum_ by the Alchemists, who applied it to the oxide.
Agricola gives the following in _Bermannus_ (p. 448), who has been
previously discussing realgar and orpiment:--"_Ancon_: Avicenna also has
a white variety. _Bermannus_: I cannot at all believe in a mineral of a
white colour; perhaps he was thinking of an artificial product; there
are two which the Alchemists make, one yellow and the other white, and
they are accounted the most powerful poisons to-day, and are called only
by the name _arsenicum_." In _De Natura Fossilium_ (p. 219) is described
the making of "the white variety" by sublimating orpiment, and also it
is noted that realgar can be made from orpiment by heating the latter
for five hours in a sealed crucible. In _De Re Metallica_ (Book X.), he
refers to _auripigmentum facticum_, and no doubt means the realgar made
from orpiment. The four minerals of arsenic base mentioned by Agricola

  _Auripigmentum_     _Operment_         Orpiment           Orpiment

  _Sandaraca_         _Rosgeel_          Realgar (As S)     Realgar

  _Arsenicum_         _Arsenik_          Artificial         White arsenic
                                           arsenical oxide

  _Lapis subrutilus   _Mistpuckel_       Arsenopyrite       *Mispickel
     atque ...                             (Fe As S)

We are somewhat uncertain as to the identification of the last. The
yellow and red sulphides, however, were well known to the Ancients, and
are described by Aristotle, Theophrastus (71 and 89), Dioscorides (V,
81), Pliny (XXXIII, 22, etc.); and Strabo (XII, 3, 40) mentions a mine
of them near Pompeiopolis, where, because of its poisonous character
none but slaves were employed. The Ancients believed that the yellow
sulphide contained gold--hence the name _auripigmentum_, and Pliny
describes the attempt of the Emperor Caligula to extract the gold from
it, and states that he did obtain a small amount, but unprofitably. So
late a mineralogist as Hill (1750) held this view, which seemed to be
general. Both realgar and orpiment were important for pigments,
medicinal purposes, and poisons among the Ancients. In addition to the
above, some arsenic-cobalt minerals are included under _cadmia_.


  _Ferrum purum_      _Gedigen eisen_    Native iron        *Native iron

  _Terra ferria_      _Eisen ertz_     } Various soft and } Ironstone
                                       }   hard iron      }
  _Ferri vena_        _Eisen ertz_     }   ores, probably }
                                       }   mostly hematite}
  _Galenae genus      _Eisen glantz_   }                  }
    tertium omnis                      }                  }
    metalli                            }                  }
    inanissimi_                        }                  }
                                       }                  }
  _Schistos_          _Glasköpfe oder  }                  }
                        blütstein_     }                  }
                                       }                  }
  _Ferri vena         _Leber ertz_     }                  }
    jecoris colore_                    }                  }

  _Ferrugo_           _Rüst_             Part limonite      Iron rust

  _Magnes_            _Siegelstein       Magnetite          Lodestone
                        oder magnet_

  _Ochra nativa_      _Berg geel_        Limonite           Yellow ochre or

  _Haematites_        _Blüt stein_    { Part hematite       Bloodstone or
                                      { Part jasper           ironstone

  _Schistos_          _Glas köpfe_       Part limonite      Ironstone

  _Pyrites_           _Kis_              Pyrites            Pyrites

  _Pyrites argenti    _wasser oder       Marcasite          *White iron
    coloris_            weisser kis_                          pyrites

  _Misy_              _Gel atrament_     Part copiapite     _Misy_ (see note
                                                              on p. 573)

  _Sory_              _Graw und          Partly a           _Sory_ (see note
                        schwartz           decomposed iron    on p. 573)
                        atrament_          pyrite

  _Melanteria_        _Schwartz und     Melanterite         _Melanteria_ (see
                        grau atrament_    (native vitriol)    note on p. 573)

The classification of iron ores on the basis of exterior
characteristics, chiefly hardness and brilliancy, does not justify a
more narrow rendering than "ironstone." Agricola (_De Nat. Fos._, Book
V.) gives elaborate descriptions of various iron ores, but the
descriptions under any special name would cover many actual minerals.
The subject of pyrites is a most confused one; the term originates from
the Greek word for fire, and referred in Greek and Roman times to almost
any stone that would strike sparks. By Agricola it was a generic term in
somewhat the same sense that it is still used in mineralogy, as, for
instance, iron pyrite, copper pyrite, etc. So much was this the case
later on, that Henckel, the leading mineralogist of the 18th Century,
entitled his large volume _Pyritologia_, and in it embraces practically
all the sulphide minerals then known. The term _marcasite_, of mediæval
Arabic origin, seems to have had some vogue prior and subsequent to
Agricola. He, however, puts it on one side as merely a synonym for
pyrite, nor can it be satisfactorily defined in much better terms.
Agricola apparently did not recognise the iron base of pyrites, for he
says (_De Nat. Fos._, p. 366): "Sometimes, however, pyrites do not
contain any gold, silver, copper, or lead, and yet it is not a pure
stone, but a compound, and consists of stone and a substance which is
somewhat metallic, which is a species of its own." Many varieties were
known to him and described, partly by their other metal association, but
chiefly by their colour.

CADMIA. The minerals embraced under this term by the old mineralogists
form one of the most difficult chapters in the history of mineralogy.
These complexities reached their height with Agricola, for at this time
various new minerals classed under this heading had come under debate.
All these minerals were later found to be forms of zinc, cobalt, or
arsenic, and some of these minerals were in use long prior to Agricola.
From Greek and Roman times down to long after Agricola, brass was made
by cementing zinc ore with copper. Aristotle and Strabo mention an earth
used to colour copper, but give no details. It is difficult to say what
zinc mineral the _cadmium_ of Dioscorides (V, 46) and Pliny (XXXIV, 2),
really was. It was possibly only furnace calamine, or perhaps blende for
it was associated with copper. They amply describe _cadmia_ produced in
copper furnaces, and _pompholyx_ (zinc oxide). It was apparently not
until Theophilus (1150) that the term _calamina_ appears for that
mineral. Precisely when the term "zinc," and a knowledge of the metal,
first appeared in Europe is a matter of some doubt; it has been
attributed to Paracelsus, a contemporary of Agricola (see note on p.
409), but we do not believe that author's work in question was printed
until long after. The quotations from Agricola given below, in which
_zincum_ is mentioned in an obscure way, do not appear in the first
editions of these works, but only in the revised edition of 1559. In
other words, Agricola himself only learned of a substance under this
name a short period before his death in 1555. The metal was imported
into Europe from China prior to this time. He however does describe
actual metallic zinc under the term _conterfei_, and mentions its
occurrence in the cracks of furnace walls. (See also notes on p. 409).

The word cobalt (German _kobelt_) is from the Greek word _cobalos_,
"mime," and its German form was the term for gnomes and goblins. It
appears that the German miners, finding a material (Agricola's
"corrosive material") which injured their hands and feet, connected it
with the goblins, or used the term as an epithet, and finally it became
established for certain minerals (see note 21, p. 214, on this subject).
The first written appearance of the term in connection with minerals,
appears in Agricola's _Bermannus_ (1530). The first practical use of
cobalt was in the form of _zaffre_ or cobalt blue. There seems to be no
mention of the substance by the Greek or Roman writers, although
analyses of old colourings show some traces of cobalt, but whether
accidental or not is undetermined. The first mention we know of, was by
Biringuccio in 1540 (_De La Pirotechnia_, Book II, Chap. IX.), who did
not connect it with the minerals then called _cobalt_ or _cadmia_.
"_Zaffera_ is another mineral substance, like a metal of middle weight,
which will not melt alone, but accompanied by vitreous substances it
melts into an azure colour so that those who colour glass, or paint
vases or glazed earthenware, make use of it. Not only does it serve for
the above-mentioned operations, but if one uses too great a quantity of
it, it will be black and all other colours, according to the quantity
used." Agricola, although he does not use the word _zaffre_, does refer
to a substance of this kind, and in any event also missed the relation
between _zaffre_ and cobalt, as he seems to think (_De Nat. Fos._, p.
347) that _zaffre_ came from bismuth, a belief that existed until long
after his time. The cobalt of the Erzgebirge was of course, intimately
associated with this mineral. He says, "the slag of bismuth, mixed
together with metalliferous substances, which when melted make a kind of
glass, will tint glass and earthenware vessels blue." _Zaffre_ is the
roasted mineral ground with sand, while _smalt_, a term used more
frequently, is the fused mixture with sand.

The following are the substances mentioned by Agricola, which, we
believe, relate to cobalt and zinc minerals, some of them arsenical
compounds. Other arsenical minerals we give above.

  _Cadmia fossilis_   _Calmei_; _lapis   Calamine           Calamine

  _Cadmia metallica_  _Kobelt_           Part cobalt        *_Cadmia

  _Cadmia fornacis_   _Mitlere und       Furnace            Furnace accretions
                        obere              accretions or
                        offenbrüche_       furnace calamine

  _Bituminosa         _Kobelt des        (Mannsfeld copper  _Bituminosa cadmia_
    cadmia_             bergwacht_         schists)           (see note 4,
                                                              p. 273)

  _Galena inanis_     _Blende_           Sphalerite*        *Blende
                                           (Zn S)

  _Cobaltum               --             Smallite*        } _Cadmia metallica_
    cineraceum_                            (CoAs_{2})     }
  _Cobaltum nigrum_       --             Abolite*         }
  _Cobaltum ferri         --             Cobaltite        }
    colore_                                 (CoAsS)       }

  _Zincum_            _Zinck_            Zinc               Zinc

  _Liquor Candidus    _Conterfei_        Zinc               See note 48, p. 408
    ex fornace ...

  _Atramentum             --             Goslarite          *Native white
    sutorium,                              (Zn SO_{4})        vitriol
    candidum, potissimum
    reperitur Goselariae_

  _Spodos             _Geeler zechen   } Either natural   { Grey _spodos_
    subterranea         rauch_         }   or artificial  {
    cinerea_                           }   zinc oxides,   {
                                       }   no doubt       {
  _Spodos             _Schwartzer      }   containing     { Black _spodos_
    subterranea         zechen rauch,  }   arsenical      {
    nigra_              auff dem       }   oxides         {
                        Altenberge     }                  {
                        nennet man in  }                  {
                        kis_           }                  {
                                       }                  {
  _Spodos             _Grauer zechen   }                  { Green _spodos_
    subterranea         rauch_         }                  {
    viridis_                           }                  {
                                       }                  {
  _Pompholyx_         _Hüttenrauch_    }                  { _Pompholyx_ (see
                                       }                  {   note 26, p. 394)

As seen from the following quotations from Agricola, on _cadmia_ and
cobalt, there was infinite confusion as to the zinc, cobalt, and arsenic
minerals; nor do we think any good purpose is served by adding to the
already lengthy discussion of these passages, the obscurity of which is
natural to the state of knowledge; but we reproduce them as giving a
fairly clear idea of the amount of confusion then existing. It is,
however, desirable to bear in mind that the mines familiar to Agricola
abounded in complex mixtures of cobalt, nickel, arsenic, bismuth, zinc,
and antimony. Agricola frequently mentions the garlic odour from _cadmia
metallica_, which, together with the corrosive qualities mentioned
below, would obviously be due to arsenic. _Bermannus_ (p. 459). "This
kind of pyrites miners call _cobaltum_, if it be allowed to me to use
our German name. The Greeks call it _cadmia_. The juices, however, out
of which pyrites and silver are formed, appear to solidify into one
body, and thus is produced what they call _cobaltum_. There are some who
consider this the same as pyrites, because it is almost the same. There
are some who distinguish it as a species, which pleases me, for it has
the distinctive property of being extremely corrosive, so that it
consumes the hands and feet of the workmen, unless they are well
protected, which I do not believe that pyrites can do. Three kinds are
found, and distinguished more by the colour than by other properties;
they are black (abolite?), grey (smallite?), and iron colour (cobalt
glance?). Moreover, it contains more silver than does pyrites...."
_Bermannus_ (p. 431). "It (a sort of pyrites) is so like the colour of
galena that not without cause might anybody have doubt in deciding
whether it be pyrites or galena.... Perhaps this kind is neither pyrites
nor galena, but has a genus of its own. For it has not the colour of
pyrites, nor the hardness. It is almost the colour of galena, but of
entirely different components. From it there is made gold and silver,
and a great quantity is dug out from Reichenstein which is in Silesia,
as was lately reported to me. Much more is found at Raurici, which they
call _zincum_; which species differs from pyrites, for the latter
contains more silver than gold, the former only gold, or hardly any

(_De Natura Fossilium_, p. 170). "_Cadmia fossilis_ has an odour like
garlic" ... (p. 367). "We now proceed with _cadmia_, not the _cadmia
fornacis_ (furnace accretions) of which I spoke in the last book, nor
the _cadmia fossilis_ (calamine) devoid of metal, which is used to
colour copper, whose nature I explained in Book V, but the metallic
mineral (_fossilis metallica_), which Pliny states to be an ore from
which copper is made. The Ancients have left no record that another
metal could be smelted from it. Yet it is a fact that not only copper
but also silver may be smelted from it, and indeed occasionally both
copper and silver together. Sometimes, as is the case with pyrites, it
is entirely devoid of metal. It is frequently found in copper mines, but
more frequently still in silver mines. And there are likewise veins of
_cadmia_ itself.... There are several species of the _cadmia fossilis_
just as there were of _cadmia fornacum_. For one kind has the form of
grapes and another of broken tiles, a third seems to consist of layers.
But the _cadmia fossilis_ has much stronger properties than that which
is produced in the furnaces. Indeed, it often possesses such highly
corrosive power that it corrodes the hands and feet of the miners. It,
therefore, differs from pyrites in colour and properties. For pyrites,
if it does not contain vitriol, is generally either of a gold or silver
colour, rarely of any other. _Cadmia_ is either black or brown or grey,
or else reddish like copper when melted in the furnace.... For this
_cadmia_ is put in a suitable vessel, in the same way as quicksilver, so
that the heat of the fire will cause it to sublimate, and from it is
made a black or brown or grey body which the Alchemists call 'sublimated
_cadmia_' (_cadmiam sublimatam_). This possesses corrosive properties of
the highest degree. Cognate with _cadmia_ and pyrites is a compound
which the Noricians and Rhetians call _zincum_. This contains gold and
silver, and is either red or white. It is likewise found in the Sudetian
mountains, and is devoid of those metals.... With this _cadmia_ is
naturally related mineral _spodos_, known to the Moor Serapion, but
unknown to the Greeks; and also _pompholyx_--for both are produced by
fire where the miners, breaking the hard rocks in drifts, tunnels, and
shafts, burn the _cadmia_ or pyrites or galena or other similar
minerals. From _cadmia_ is made black, brown, and grey _spodos_; from
pyrites, white _pompholyx_ and _spodos_; from galena is made yellow or
grey _spodos_. But _pompholyx_ produced from copper stone (_lapide
aeroso_) after some time becomes green. The black _spodos_, similar to
soot, is found at Altenberg in Meissen. The white _pompholyx_, like wool
which floats in the air in summer, is found in Hildesheim in the seams
in the rocks of almost all quarries except in the sandstone. But the
grey and the brown and the yellow _pompholyx_ are found in those silver
mines where the miners break up the rocks by fire. All consist of very
fine particles which are very light, but the lightest of all is white


  _Quarzum_ ("which   _Quertz oder       Quartz             Quartz (see note
    Latins call         kiselstein_                           15, p. 380)

  _Silex_             _Hornstein oder    Flinty or jaspery  Hornstone
                        feurstein_         quartz

  _Crystallum_        _Crystal_          Clear crystals     Crystal

  _Achates_           _Achat_            Agate              Agate

  _Sarda_             _Carneol_          Carnelian          Carnelian

  _Jaspis_            _Jaspis_           Part coloured      _Jaspis_
                                           quartz, part

  _Murrhina_          _Chalcedonius_     Chalcedony         Chalcedony

  _Coticula_          _Goldstein_        A black silicious  Touchstone (see
                                           stone              note 37, p. 252)

  _Amethystus_        _Amethyst_         Amethyst           Amethyst


  _Lapis            } _Gips_             Gypsum             Gypsum
    specularis_     }
  _Gypsum_          }

  _Marmor_            _Marmelstein_      Marble             Marble

  _Marmor             _Alabaster_        Alabaster          Alabaster

  _Marmor glarea_         --             Calcite (?)        Calc spar(?)

  _Saxum calcis_      _Kalchstein_       Limestone          Limestone

  _Marga_             _Mergel_           Marl               Marl

  _Tophus_            _Toffstein oder    Sintry             _Tophus_ (see note
                        topstein_          limestones,        13, p. 233)


  _Amiantus_          _Federwis, pliant  Usually asbestos   Asbestos

  _Magnetis_          _Silberweis oder } Mica               *Mica
                        katzensilber_  }
  _Bracteolae              --          }
    magnetidi simile_                  }
  _Mica_              _Katzensilber    }
                        oder glimmer_  }

  _Silex ex eo ictu        --            Feldspar           *Feldspar
    ferri facile
    excubus figuris_

  _Medulla saxorum_   _Steinmarck_       Kaolinite          Porcelain clay

  _Fluores (lapides   _Flusse_           Fluorspar          *Fluorspar
    gemmarum simili)_                                        (see note 15,
                                                             p. 380)

  _Marmor in          _Spat_             Barite             *Heavy spar

Apart from the above, many other minerals are mentioned in other
chapters, and some information is given with regard to them in the

[9] Three _librae_ of silver per _centumpondium_ would be equal to 875
ounces per short ton.

[10] As stated in note on p. 2, Agricola divided "stones so called" into
four kinds; the first, common stones in which he included lodestone and
jasper or bloodstone; the second embraced gems; the third were
decorative stones, such as marble, porphyry, etc.; the fourth were
rocks, such as sandstone and limestone.

LODESTONE. (_Magnes_; _Interpretatio_ gives _Siegelstein oder magnet_).
The lodestone was well-known to the Ancients under various
names--_magnes_, _magnetis_, _heraclion_, and _sideritis_. A review of
the ancient opinions as to its miraculous properties would require more
space than can be afforded. It is mentioned by many Greek writers,
including Hippocrates (460-372 B.C.) and Aristotle; while Theophrastus
(53), Dioscorides (V, 105), and Pliny (XXXIV, 42, XXXVI, 25) describe it
at length. The Ancients also maintained the existence of a stone,
_theamedes_, having repellant properties, and the two were supposed to
exist at times in the same stone.

EMERY. (_Smiris_; _Interpretatio_ gives _smirgel_). Agricola (_De Natura
Fossilium_, p. 265) says: "The ring-makers polish and clean their hard
gems with _smiris_. The glaziers use it to cut their glass into sheets.
It is found in the silver mines of Annaberg in Meissen and elsewhere."
Stones used for polishing gems are noted by the ancient authors, and
Dana (Syst. of Mineralogy, p. 211) considers the stone of Armenia, of
Theophrastus (77), to be emery, although it could quite well be any hard
stone, such as Novaculite--which is found in Armenia. Dioscorides (V,
166) describes a stone with which the engravers polish gems.

LAPIS JUDAICUS. (_Interpretatio_ gives _Jüden stein_). This was
undoubtedly a fossil, possibly a _pentremites_. Agricola (_De Natura
Fossilium_, p. 256) says: "It is shaped like an acorn, from the obtuse
end to the point proceed raised lines, all equidistant, etc." Many
fossils were included among the semi-precious stones by the Ancients.
Pliny (XXXVII, 55, 66, 73) describes many such stones, among them the
_balanites_, _phoenicitis_ and the _pyren_, which resemble the above.

TROCHITIS. (_Interpretatio_ gives _spangen oder rederstein_). This was
also a fossil, probably crinoid stems. Agricola (_De Natura Fossilium_,
p. 256) describes it: "_Trochites_ is so called from a wheel, and is
related to _lapis judaicus_. Nature has indeed given it the shape of a
drum (_tympanum_). The round part is smooth, but on both ends as it were
there is a module from which on all sides there extend radii to the
outer edge, which corresponds with the radii. These radii are so much
raised that it is fluted. The size of these _trochites_ varies greatly,
for the smallest is so little that the largest is ten times as big, and
the largest are a digit in length by a third of a digit in thickness ...
when immersed in vinegar they make bubbles."

[11] The "extraordinary earths" of Agricola were such substances as
ochres, tripoli, fullers earth, potters' clay, clay used for medicinal
purposes, etc., etc.

[12] Presumably the ore-body dips into a neighbouring property.

[13] The various kinds of iron tools are described in great detail in
Book VI.

[14] Fire-setting as an aid to breaking rock is of very ancient origin,
and moreover it persisted in certain German and Norwegian mines down to
the end of the 19th century--270 years after the first application of
explosives to mining. The first specific reference to fire-setting in
mining is by Agatharchides (2nd century B.C.) whose works are not
extant, but who is quoted by both Diodorus Siculus and Photius, for
which statement see note 8, p. 279. Pliny (XXXIII, 21) says:
"Occasionally a kind of silex is met with, which must be broken with
fire and vinegar, or as the tunnels are filled with suffocating fumes
and smoke, they frequently use bruising machines, carrying 150 _librae_
of iron." This combination of fire and vinegar he again refers to
(XXIII, 27), where he dilates in the same sentence on the usefulness of
vinegar for breaking rock and for salad dressing. This myth about
breaking rocks with fire and vinegar is of more than usual interest, and
its origin seems to be in the legend that Hannibal thus broke through
the Alps. Livy (59 B.C., 17 A.D.) seems to be the first to produce this
myth in writing; and, in any event, by Pliny's time (23-79 A.D.) it had
become an established method--in literature. Livy (XXI, 37) says, in
connection with Hannibal's crossing of the Alps: "They set fire to it
(the timber) when a wind had arisen suitable to excite the fire, then
when the rock was hot it was crumbled by pouring on vinegar (_infuso
aceto_). In this manner the cliff heated by the fire was broken by iron
tools, and the declivities eased by turnings, so that not only the
beasts of burden but also the elephants could be led down." Hannibal
crossed the Alps in 218 B.C. and Livy's account was written 200 years
later, by which time Hannibal's memory among the Romans was generally
surrounded by Herculean fables. Be this as it may, by Pliny's time the
vinegar was generally accepted, and has been ceaselessly debated ever
since. Nor has the myth ceased to grow, despite the remarks of Gibbon,
Lavalette, and others. A recent historian (Hennebert, _Histoire d'
Annibal_ II, p. 253) of that famous engineer and soldier, soberly sets
out to prove that inasmuch as literal acceptance of ordinary vinegar is
impossible, the Phoenicians must have possessed some mysterious high
explosive. A still more recent biographer swallows this argument _in
toto_. (Morris, "Hannibal," London, 1903, p. 103). A study of the
commentators of this passage, although it would fill a volume with
sterile words, would disclose one generalization: That the real scholars
have passed over the passage with the comment that it is either a
corruption or an old woman's tale, but that hosts of soldiers who set
about the biography of famous generals and campaigns, almost to a man
take the passage seriously, and seriously explain it by way of the rock
being limestone, or snow, or by the use of explosives, or other
foolishness. It has been proposed, although there are grammatical
objections, that the text is slightly corrupt and read _infosso acuto_,
instead of _infuso aceto_, in which case all becomes easy from a mining
point of view. If so, however, it must be assumed that the corruption
occurred during the 20 years between Livy and Pliny.

By the use of fire-setting in recent times at Königsberg (Arthur L.
Collins, "Fire-setting," Federated Inst. of Mining Engineers, Vol. V, p.
82) an advance of from 5 to 20 feet per month in headings was
accomplished, and on the score of economy survived the use of gunpowder,
but has now been abandoned in favour of dynamite. We may mention that
the use of gunpowder for blasting was first introduced at Schemnitz by
Caspar Weindle, in 1627, but apparently was not introduced into English
mines for nearly 75 years afterward, as the late 17th century English
writers continue to describe fire-setting.

[15] The strata here enumerated are given in the Glossary of _De Re
Metallica_ as follows:--

  _Corium terrae_            _Die erd oder leim._
  _Saxum rubrum_             _Rot gebirge._
  _Alterum item rubrum_      _Roterkle._
  _Argilla cinerea_          _Thone._
  _Tertium saxum_            _Gerhulle._
  _Cineris vena_             _Asche._
  _Quartum saxum_            _Gniest._
  _Quintum saxum_            _Schwehlen._
  _Sextum saxum_             _Oberrauchstein._
  _Septimum saxum_           _Zechstein._
  _Octavum saxum_            _Underrauchstein._
  _Nonum saxum_              _Blitterstein._
  _Decimum saxum_            _Oberschuelen._
  _Undecimum saxum_          _Mittelstein._
  _Duodecimum saxum_         _Underschuelen._
  _Decimumtertium saxum_     _Dach._
  _Decimumquartum saxum_     _Norweg._
  _Decimumquintum saxum_     _Lotwerg._
  _Decimumsextum saxum_      _Kamme._
  _Lapis aerosus fissilis_   _Schifer._

The description is no doubt that of the Mannsfeld cupriferous slates. It
is of some additional interest as the first attempt at stratigraphic
distinctions, although this must not be taken too literally, for we have
rendered the different numbered "_saxum_" in this connection as
"stratum." The German terms given by Agricola above, can many of them be
identified in the miners' terms to-day for the various strata at
Mannsfeld. Over the _kupferschiefer_ the names to-day are _kammschale_,
_dach_, _faule_, _zechstein_, _rauchwacke_, _rauchstein_, _asche_. The
relative thickness of these beds is much the same as given by Agricola.
The stringers in the 8th stratum of stone, which fuse in the fire of the
second order, were possibly calcite. The _rauchstein_ of the modern
section is distinguished by stringers of calcite, which give it at times
a brecciated appearance.

[16] The history of surveying and surveying instruments, and in a
subsidiary way their application to mine work, is a subject upon which
there exists a most extensive literature. However, that portion of such
history which relates to the period prior to Agricola represents a much
less proportion of the whole than do the citations to this chapter in
_De Re Metallica_, which is the first comprehensive discussion of the
mining application. The history of such instruments is too extensive to
be entered upon in a footnote, but there are some fundamental
considerations which, if they had been present in the minds of
historical students of this subject, would have considerably abridged
the literature on it. First, there can be no doubt that measuring cords
or rods and boundary stones existed almost from the first division of
land. There is, therefore, no need to try to discover their origins.
Second, the history of surveying and surveying instruments really begins
with the invention of instruments for taking levels, or for the
determination of angles with a view to geometrical calculation. The
meagre facts bearing upon this subject do not warrant the endless
expansion they have received by argument as to what was probable, in
order to accomplish assumed methods of construction among the Ancients.
For instance, the argument that in carrying the Grand Canal over
watersheds with necessary reservoir supply, the Chinese must have had
accurate levelling and surveying instruments before the Christian Era,
and must have conceived in advance a completed work, does not hold water
when any investigation will demonstrate that the canal grew by slow
accretion from the lateral river systems, until it joined almost by
accident. Much the same may be said about the preconception of
engineering results in several other ancient works. There can be no
certainty as to who first invented instruments of the order mentioned
above; for instance, the invention of the dioptra has been ascribed to
Hero, _vide_ his work on the _Dioptra_. He has been assumed to have
lived in the 1st or 2nd Century B.C. Recent investigations, however,
have shown that he lived about 100 A.D. (Sir Thomas Heath, Encyc. Brit.
11th Ed., XIII, 378). As this instrument is mentioned by Vitruvius (50
-0 B.C.) the myth that Hero was the inventor must also disappear.
Incidentally Vitruvius (VIII, 5) describes a levelling instrument called
a _chorobates_, which was a frame levelled either by a groove of water
or by plumb strings. Be the inventor of the _dioptra_ who he may, Hero's
work on that subject contains the first suggestion of mine surveys in
the problems (XIII, XIV, XV, XVI), where geometrical methods are
elucidated for determining the depths required for the connection of
shafts and tunnels. On the compass we give further notes on p. 56. It
was probably an evolution of the 13th Century. As to the application of
angle- and level-determining instruments to underground surveys, so far
as we know there is no reference prior to Agricola, except that of Hero.
Mr. Bennett Brough (Cantor Lecture, London, 1892) points out that the
_Nützliche Bergbüchlin_ (see Appendix) describes a mine compass, but
there is not the slightest reference to its use for anything but surface
direction of veins.

Although map-making of a primitive sort requires no instruments, except
legs, the oldest map in the world possesses unusual interest because it
happens to be a map of a mining region. This well-known Turin papyrus
dates from Seti I. (about 1300 B.C.), and it represents certain gold
mines between the Nile and the Red Sea. The best discussion is by Chabas
(_Inscriptions des Mines d'Or_, Chalons-sur-Saone, Paris, 1862, p.
30-36). Fragments of another papyrus, in the Turin Museum, are
considered by Lieblein (_Deux Papyras Hiératiques_, Christiania, 1868)
also to represent a mine of the time of Rameses I. If so, this one dates
from about 1400 B.C. As to an actual map of underground workings
(disregarding illustrations) we know of none until after Agricola's
time. At his time maps were not made, as will be gathered from the text.

[17] For greater clarity we have in a few places interpolated the terms
"major" and "minor" triangles.

[18] The names of the instruments here described in the original text,
their German equivalents in the Glossary, and the terms adopted in
translation are given below:--

  LATIN TEXT.            GLOSSARY.             TERMS ADOPTED.

  _Funiculus_                 --               Cord

  _Pertica_              _Stab_                Rod

  _Hemicyclium_          _Donlege bretlein_    Hemicycle

  _Tripus_               _Stul_                Tripod

  _Instrumentum cui      _Compass_             Compass

  _Orbis_                _Scheube_             Orbis

  _Libra stativa_        _Auffsafz_            Standing plummet

  _Libra pensilis_       _Wage_                Suspended plummet

  _Instrumentum cui      _Der schiner          Swiss compass
    index Alpinum_         compass_

[19] It is interesting to note that the ratio of any length so obtained,
to the whole length of the staff, is practically equal to the cosine of
the angle represented by the corresponding gradation on the hemicycle;
the gradations on the rod forming a fairly accurate table of cosines.

[20] It must be understood that instead of "plotting" a survey on a
reduced scale on paper, as modern surveyors do, the whole survey was
reproduced in full scale on the "surveyor's field."


Digging of veins I have written of, and the timbering of shafts,
tunnels, drifts, and other excavations, and the art of surveying. I will
now speak first of all, of the iron tools with which veins and rocks are
broken, then of the buckets into which the lumps of earth, rock, metal,
and other excavated materials are thrown, in order that they may be
drawn, conveyed, or carried out. Also, I will speak of the water vessels
and drains, then of the machines of different kinds,[1] and lastly of
the maladies of miners. And while all these matters are being described
accurately, many methods of work will be explained.

[Illustration 150 (Iron tools): A--First "iron tool." B--Second.
C--Third. D--Fourth.[2] E--Wedge. F--Iron block. G--Iron plate.
H--Wooden handle. I--Handle inserted in first tool.]

There are certain iron tools which the miners designate by names of
their own, and besides these, there are wedges, iron blocks, iron
plates, hammers, crowbars, pikes, picks, hoes, and shovels. Of those
which are especially referred to as "iron tools" there are four
varieties, which are different from one another in length or thickness,
but not in shape, for the upper end of all of them is broad and square,
so that it can be struck by the hammer. The lower end is pointed so as
to split the hard rocks and veins with its point. All of these have eyes
except the fourth. The first, which is in daily use among miners, is
three-quarters of a foot long, a digit and a half wide, and a digit
thick. The second is of the same width as the first, and the same
thickness, but one and one half feet long, and is used to shatter the
hardest veins in such a way that they crack open. The third is the same
length as the second, but is a little wider and thicker; with this one
they dig the bottoms of those shafts which slowly accumulate water. The
fourth is nearly three palms and one digit long, two digits thick, and
in the upper end it is three digits wide, in the middle it is one palm
wide, and at the lower end it is pointed like the others; with this they
cut out the harder veins. The eye in the first tool is one palm distant
from the upper end, in the second and third it is seven digits distant;
each swells out around the eye on both sides, and into it they fit a
wooden handle, which they hold with one hand, while they strike the iron
tool with a hammer, after placing it against the rock. These tools are
made larger or smaller as necessary. The smiths, as far as possible,
sharpen again all that become dull.

A wedge is usually three palms and two digits long and six digits wide;
at the upper end, for a distance of a palm, it is three digits thick,
and beyond that point it becomes thinner by degrees, until finally it is
quite sharp.

The iron block is six digits in length and width; at the upper end it
is two digits thick, and at the bottom a digit and a half. The iron
plate is the same length and width as the iron block, but it is very
thin. All of these, as I explained in the last book, are used when the
hardest kind of veins are hewn out. Wedges, blocks, and plates, are
likewise made larger or smaller.

[Illustration 151 (Hammers): A--Smallest of the smaller hammers.
B--Intermediate. C--Largest. D--Small kind of the larger hammer.
E--Large kind. F--Wooden handle. G--Handle fixed in the smallest

Hammers are of two kinds, the smaller ones the miners hold in one hand,
and the larger ones they hold with both hands. The former, because of
their size and use, are of three sorts. With the smallest, that is to
say, the lightest, they strike the second "iron tool;" with the
intermediate one the first "iron tool;" and with the largest the third
"iron tool"; this one is two digits wide and thick. Of the larger sort
of hammers there are two kinds; with the smaller they strike the fourth
"iron tool;" with the larger they drive the wedges into the cracks; the
former are three, and the latter five digits wide and thick, and a foot
long. All swell out in their middle, in which there is an eye for a
handle, but in most cases the handles are somewhat light, in order that
the workmen may be able to strike more powerful blows by the hammer's
full weight being thus concentrated.

[Illustration 152a (Crowbars): A--Round crowbar. B--Flat crowbar.

The iron crowbars are likewise of two kinds, and each kind is pointed
at one end. One is rounded, and with this they pierce to a shaft full of
water when a tunnel reaches to it; the other is flat, and with this they
knock out of the stopes on to the floor, the rocks which have been
softened by the fire, and which cannot be dislodged by the pike. A
miner's pike, like a sailor's, is a long rod having an iron head.

[Illustration 152b (Picks): A--Pick. B--Hoe. C--Shovel.]

The miner's pick differs from a peasant's pick in that the latter is
wide at the bottom and sharp, but the former is pointed. It is used to
dig out ore which is not hard, such as earth. Likewise a hoe and shovel
are in no way different from the common articles, with the one they
scrape up earth and sand, with the other they throw it into vessels.

Now earth, rock, mineral substances and other things dug out with the
pick or hewn out with the "iron tools" are hauled out of the shaft in
buckets, or baskets, or hide buckets; they are drawn out of tunnels in
wheelbarrows or open trucks, and from both they are sometimes carried in

[Illustration 154a (Buckets for hoisting ore)]

[Illustration 154b (Buckets for hoisting ore): A--Small bucket. B--Large
bucket. C--Staves. D--Iron hoops. E--Iron straps. F--Iron straps on the
bottom. G--Hafts. H--Iron bale. I--Hook of drawing-rope. K--Basket.
L--Hide bucket or sack.]

Buckets are of two kinds, which differ in size, but not in material or
shape. The smaller for the most part hold only about one _metreta_; the
larger are generally capable of carrying one-sixth of a _congius_;
neither is of unchangeable capacity, but they often vary.[3] Each is
made of staves circled with hoops, one of which binds the top and the
other the bottom. The hoops are sometimes made of hazel and oak, but
these are easily broken by dashing against the shaft, while those made
of iron are more durable. In the larger buckets the staves are thicker
and wider, as also are both hoops, and in order that the buckets may be
more firm and strong, they have eight iron straps, somewhat broad, four
of which run from the upper hoop downwards, and four from the lower hoop
upwards, as if to meet each other. The bottom of each bucket, both
inside and outside, is furnished with two or three straps of iron, which
run from one side of the lower hoop to the other, but the straps which
are on the outside are fixed crosswise. Each bucket has two iron hafts
which project above the edge, and it has an iron semi-circular bale
whose lower ends are fixed directly into the hafts, that the bucket may
be handled more easily. Each kind of bucket is much deeper than it is
wide, and each is wider at the top, in order that the material which is
dug out may be the more easily poured in and poured out again. Into the
smaller buckets strong boys, and into larger ones men, fill earth from
the bottom of the shaft with hoes; or the other material dug up is
shovelled into them or filled in with their hands, for which reason
these men are called "shovellers.[4]" Afterward they fix the hook of the
drawing-rope into the bale; then the buckets are drawn up by
machines--the smaller ones, because of their lighter weight, by machines
turned by men, and the larger ones, being heavier, by the machines
turned by horses. Some, in place of these buckets, substitute baskets
which hold just as much, or even more, since they are lighter than the
buckets; some use sacks made of ox-hide instead of buckets, and the
drawing-rope hook is fastened to their iron bale, usually three of these
filled with excavated material are drawn up at the same time as three
are being lowered and three are being filled by boys. The latter are
generally used at Schneeberg and the former at Freiberg.

[Illustration 155 (Wheelbarrows): A--Small wheelbarrow. B--Long planks
thereof. C--End-boards. D--Small wheel. E--Larger barrow. F--Front
end-board thereof.]

That which we call a _cisium_[5] is a vehicle with one wheel, not with
two, such as horses draw. When filled with excavated material it is
pushed by a workman out of tunnels or sheds. It is made as follows: two
planks are chosen about five feet long, one foot wide, and two digits
thick; of each of these the lower side is cut away at the front for a
length of one foot, and at the back for a length of two feet, while the
middle is left whole. Then in the front parts are bored circular holes,
in order that the ends of an axle may revolve in them. The intermediate
parts of the planks are perforated twice near the bottom, so as to
receive the heads of two little cleats on which the planks are fixed;
and they are also perforated in the middle, so as to receive the heads
of two end-boards, while keys fixed in these projecting heads strengthen
the whole structure. The handles are made out of the extreme ends of the
long planks, and they turn downward at the ends that they may be grasped
more firmly in the hands. The small wheel, of which there is only one,
neither has a nave nor does it revolve around the axle, but turns around
with it. From the felloe, which the Greeks called [Greek: apsides], two
transverse spokes fixed into it pass through the middle of the axle
toward the opposite felloe; the axle is square, with the exception of
the ends, each of which is rounded so as to turn in the opening. A
workman draws out this barrow full of earth and rock and draws it back
empty. Miners also have another wheelbarrow, larger than this one, which
they use when they wash earth mixed with tin-stone on to which a stream
has been turned. The front end-board of this one is deeper, in order
that the earth which has been thrown into it may not fall out.

[Illustration 156 (Trucks): A--Rectangular iron bands on truck. B--Its
iron straps. C--Iron axle. D--Wooden rollers. E--Small iron keys.
F--Large blunt iron pin. G--Same truck upside down.]

The open truck has a capacity half as large again as a wheelbarrow; it
is about four feet long and about two and a half feet wide and deep; and
since its shape is rectangular, it is bound together with three
rectangular iron bands, and besides these there are iron straps on all
sides. Two small iron axles are fixed to the bottom, around the ends of
which wooden rollers revolve on either side; in order that the rollers
shall not fall off the immovable axles, there are small iron keys. A
large blunt pin fixed to the bottom of the truck runs in a groove of a
plank in such a way that the truck does not leave the beaten track.
Holding the back part with his hands, the carrier pushes out the truck
laden with excavated material, and pushes it back again empty. Some
people call it a "dog"[6], because when it moves it makes a noise which
seems to them not unlike the bark of a dog. This truck is used when they
draw loads out of the longest tunnels, both because it is moved more
easily and because a heavier load can be placed in it.

[Illustration 157 (Batea): A--Small batea. B--Rope. C--Large batea.]

Bateas[7] are hollowed out of a single block of wood; the smaller kind
are generally two feet long and one foot wide. When they have been
filled with ore, especially when but little is dug from the shafts and
tunnels, men either carry them out on their shoulders, or bear them away
hung from their necks. Pliny[8] is our authority that among the
ancients everything which was mined was carried out on men's shoulders,
but in truth this method of carrying forth burdens is onerous, since it
causes great fatigue to a great number of men, and involves a large
expenditure for labour; for this reason it has been rejected and
abandoned in our day. The length of the larger batea is as much as three
feet, the width up to a foot and a palm. In these bateas the metallic
earth is washed for the purpose of testing it.

[Illustration 158a (Buckets for hoisting water): A--Smaller
water-bucket. B--Larger water-bucket. C--Dipper.]

Water-vessels differ both in the use to which they are put and in the
material of which they are made; some draw the water from the shafts and
pour it into other things, as dippers; while some of the vessels filled
with water are drawn out by machines, as buckets and bags; some are made
of wood, as the dippers and buckets, and others of hides, as the bags.
The water-buckets, just like the buckets which are filled with dry
material, are of two kinds, the smaller and the larger, but these are
unlike the other buckets at the top, as in this case they are narrower,
in order that the water may not be spilled by being bumped against the
timbers when they are being drawn out of the shafts, especially those
considerably inclined. The water is poured into these buckets by
dippers, which are small wooden buckets, but unlike the water-buckets,
they are neither narrow at the top nor bound with iron hoops, but with
hazel,--because there is no necessity for either. The smaller buckets
are drawn up by machines turned by men, the larger ones by those turned
by horses.

[Illustration 158b (Bags for hoisting water): A--Water-bag which takes
in water by itself. B--Water-bag into which water pours when it is
pushed with a shovel.]

Our people give the name of water-bags to those very large skins for
carrying water which are made of two, or two and a half, ox-hides. When
these water-bags have undergone much wear and use, first the hair comes
off them and they become bald and shining; after this they become torn.
If the tear is but a small one, a piece of smooth notched stick is put
into the broken part, and the broken bag is bound into its notches on
either side and sewn together; but if it is a large one, they mend it
with a piece of ox-hide. The water-bags are fixed to the hook of a
drawing-chain and let down and dipped into the water, and as soon as
they are filled they are drawn up by the largest machine. They are of
two kinds; the one kind take in the water by themselves; the water pours
into the other kind when it is pushed in a certain way by a wooden

[Illustration 159 (Trough): A--Trough. B--Hopper.]

When the water has been drawn out from the shafts, it is run off in
troughs, or into a hopper, through which it runs into the trough.
Likewise the water which flows along the sides of the tunnels is carried
off in drains. These are composed of two hollowed beams joined firmly
together, so as to hold the water which flows through them, and they are
covered by planks all along their course, from the mouth of the tunnel
right up to the extreme end of it, to prevent earth or rock falling into
them and obstructing the flow of the water. If much mud gradually
settles in them the planks are raised and the drains are cleaned out,
for they would otherwise become stopped up and obstructed by this
accident. With regard to the trough lying above ground, which miners
place under the hoppers which are close by the shaft houses, these are
usually hollowed out of single trees. Hoppers are generally made of four
planks, so cut on the lower side and joined together that the top part
of the hopper is broader and the bottom part narrower.

I have sufficiently indicated the nature of the miners' iron tools and
their vessels. I will now explain their machines, which are of three
kinds, that is, hauling machines, ventilating machines, and ladders. By
means of the hauling machines loads are drawn out of the shafts; the
ventilating machines receive the air through their mouths and blow it
into shafts or tunnels, for if this is not done, diggers cannot carry on
their labour without great difficulty in breathing; by the steps of the
ladders the miners go down into the shafts and come up again.

[Illustration 161 (Windlass): A--Timber placed in front of the shaft.
B--Timber placed at the back of the shaft. C--Pointed stakes.
D--Cross-timbers. E--Posts or thick planks. F--Iron sockets. G--Barrel.
H--Ends of barrel. I--Pieces of wood. K--handle. L--Drawing-rope. M--Its
hook. N--Bucket. O--Bale of the bucket.]

Hauling machines are of varied and diverse forms, some of them being
made with great skill, and if I am not mistaken, they were unknown to
the Ancients. They have been invented in order that water may be drawn
from the depths of the earth to which no tunnels reach, and also the
excavated material from shafts which are likewise not connected with a
tunnel, or if so, only with very long ones. Since shafts are not all of
the same depth, there is a great variety among these hauling machines.
Of those by which dry loads are drawn out of the shafts, five sorts are
in the most common use, of which I will now describe the first. Two
timbers a little longer than the shaft are placed beside it, the one in
the front of the shaft, the other at the back. Their extreme ends have
holes through which stakes, pointed at the bottom like wedges, are
driven deeply into the ground, so that the timbers may remain
stationary. Into these timbers are mortised the ends of two
cross-timbers, one laid on the right end of the shaft, while the other
is far enough from the left end that between it and that end there
remains suitable space for placing the ladders. In the middle of the
cross-timbers, posts are fixed and secured with iron keys. In hollows at
the top of these posts thick iron sockets hold the ends of the barrel,
of which each end projects beyond the hollow of the post, and is
mortised into the end of another piece of wood a foot and a half long, a
palm wide and three digits thick; the other end of these pieces of wood
is seven digits wide, and into each of them is fixed a round handle,
likewise a foot and a half long. A winding-rope is wound around the
barrel and fastened to it at the middle part. The loop at each end of
the rope has an iron hook which is engaged in the bale of a bucket, and
so when the windlass revolves by being turned by the cranks, a loaded
bucket is always being drawn out of the shaft and an empty one is being
sent down into it. Two robust men turn the windlass, each having a
wheelbarrow near him, into which he unloads the bucket which is drawn up
nearest to him; two buckets generally fill a wheelbarrow; therefore when
four buckets have been drawn up, each man runs his own wheelbarrow out
of the shed and empties it. Thus it happens that if shafts are dug deep,
a hillock rises around the shed of the windlass. If a vein is not
metal-bearing, they pour out the earth and rock without discriminating;
whereas if it is metal-bearing, they preserve these materials, which
they unload separately and crush and wash. When they draw up buckets of
water they empty the water through the hopper into a trough, through
which it flows away.

[Illustration 162 (Windlass): A--Barrel. B--Straight levers. C--Usual
crank. D--Spokes of wheel. E--Rim of the same wheel.]

The next kind of machine, which miners employ when the shaft is deeper,
differs from the first in that it possesses a wheel as well as cranks.
This windlass, if the load is not being drawn up from a great depth, is
turned by one windlass man, the wheel taking the place of the other man.
But if the depth is greater, then the windlass is turned by three men,
the wheel being substituted for a fourth, because the barrel having been
once set in motion, the rapid revolutions of the wheel help, and it can
be turned more easily. Sometimes masses of lead are hung on to this
wheel, or are fastened to the spokes, in order that when it is turned
they depress the spokes by their weight and increase the motion; some
persons for the same reason fasten into the barrel two, three, or four
iron rods, and weight their ends with lumps of lead. The windlass wheel
differs from the wheel of a carriage and from the one which is turned
by water power, for it lacks the buckets of a water-wheel and it lacks
the nave of a carriage wheel. In the place of the nave it has a thick
barrel, in which are mortised the lower ends of the spokes, just as
their upper ends are mortised into the rim. When three windlass men turn
this machine, four straight levers are fixed to the one end of the
barrel, and to the other the crank which is usual in mines, and which is
composed of two limbs, of which the rounded horizontal one is grasped by
the hands; the rectangular limb, which is at right angles to the
horizontal one, has mortised in its lower end the round handle, and in
the upper end the end of the barrel. This crank is worked by one man,
the levers by two men, of whom one pulls while the other pushes; all
windlass workers, whatsoever kind of a machine they may turn, are
necessarily robust that they can sustain such great toil.

[Illustration 163 (Tread whim): A--Upright axle. B--Block. C--Roof beam.
D--Wheel. E--Toothed-drum. F--Horizontal axle. G--Drum composed of
rundles. H--Drawing rope. I--Pole. K--Upright posts. L--Cleats on the

The third kind of machine is less fatiguing for the workman, while it
raises larger loads; even though it is slower, like all other machines
which have drums, yet it reaches greater depths, even to a depth of 180
feet. It consists of an upright axle with iron journals at its
extremities, which turn in two iron sockets, the lower of which is fixed
in a block set in the ground and the upper one in the roof beam. This
axle has at its lower end a wheel made of thick planks joined firmly
together, and at its upper end a toothed drum; this toothed drum turns
another drum made of rundles, which is on a horizontal axle. A
winding-rope is wound around this latter axle, which turns in iron
bearings set in the beams. So that they may not fall, the two workmen
grasp with their hands a pole fixed to two upright posts, and then
pushing the cleats of the lower wheel backward with their feet, they
revolve the machine; as often as they have drawn up and emptied one
bucket full of excavated material, they turn the machine in the opposite
direction and draw out another.

[Illustration 165 (Horse whim): A--Upright beams. B--Sills laid flat
upon the ground. C--Posts. D--Area. E--Sill set at the bottom of the
hole. F--Axle. G--Double cross-beams. H--Drum. I--Winding-ropes.
K--Bucket. L--Small pieces of wood hanging from double cross-beams.
M--Short wooden block. N--Chain. O--Pole bar. P--Grappling hook. (Some
members mentioned in the text are not shown).]

The fourth machine raises burdens once and a half as large again as the
two machines first explained. When it is made, sixteen beams are erected
each forty feet long, one foot thick and one foot wide, joined at the
top with clamps and widely separated at the bottom. The lower ends of
all of them are mortised into separate sills laid flat upon the ground;
these sills are five feet long, a foot and a half wide, and a foot
thick. Each beam is also connected with its sill by a post, whose upper
end is mortised into the beam and its lower end mortised into the sill;
these posts are four feet long, one foot thick, and one foot wide. Thus
a circular area is made, the diameter of which is fifty feet; in the
middle of this area a hole is sunk to a depth of ten feet, and rammed
down tight, and in order to give it sufficient firmness, it is
strengthened with contiguous small timbers, through which pins are
driven, for by them the earth around the hole is held so that it cannot
fall in. In the bottom of the hole is planted a sill, three or four feet
long and a foot and a half thick and wide; in order that it may remain
fixed, it is set into the small timbers; in the middle of it is a steel
socket in which the pivot of the axle turns. In like manner a timber is
mortised into two of the large beams, at the top beneath the clamps;
this has an iron bearing in which the other iron journal of the axle
revolves. Every axle used in mining, to speak of them once for all, has
two iron journals, rounded off on all sides, one fixed with keys in the
centre of each end. That part of this journal which is fixed to the end
of the axle is as broad as the end itself and a digit thick; that which
projects beyond the axle is round and a palm thick, or thicker if
necessity requires; the ends of each miner's axle are encircled and
bound by an iron band to hold the journal more securely. The axle of
this machine, except at the ends, is square, and is forty feet long, a
foot and a half thick and wide. Mortised and clamped into the axle above
the lower end are the ends of four inclined beams; their outer ends
support two double cross-beams similarly mortised into them; the
inclined beams are eighteen feet long, three palms thick, and five wide.
The two cross-beams are fixed to the axle and held together by wooden
keys so that they will not separate, and they are twenty-four feet long.
Next, there is a drum which is made of three wheels, of which the middle
one is seven feet distant from the upper one and from the lower one; the
wheels have four spokes which are supported by the same number of
inclined braces, the lower ends of which are joined together round the
axle by a clamp; one end of each spoke is mortised into the axle and the
other into the rim. There are rundles all round the wheels, reaching
from the rim of the lowest one to the rim of the middle one, and
likewise from the rim of the middle wheel to the rim of the top one;
around these rundles are wound the drawing-ropes, one between the lowest
wheel and the middle one, the other between the middle and top wheels.
The whole of this construction is shaped like a cone, and is covered
with a shingle roof, with the exception of that square part which faces
the shaft. Then cross-beams, mortised at both ends, connect a double row
of upright posts; all of these are eighteen feet long, but the posts are
one foot thick and one foot wide, and the cross-beams are three palms
thick and wide. There are sixteen posts and eight cross-beams, and upon
these cross-beams are laid two timbers a foot wide and three palms
thick, hollowed out to a width of half a foot and to a depth of five
digits; the one is laid upon the upper cross-beams and the other upon
the lower; each is long enough to reach nearly from the drum of the whim
to the shaft. Near the same drum each timber has a small round wooden
roller six digits thick, whose ends are covered with iron bands and
revolve in iron rings. Each timber also has a wooden pulley, which
together with its iron axle revolves in holes in the timber. These
pulleys are hollowed out all round, in order that the drawing-rope may
not slip out of them, and thus each rope is drawn tight and turns over
its own roller and its own pulley. The iron hook of each rope is engaged
with the bale of the bucket. Further, with regard to the double
cross-beams which are mortised to the lower part of the main axle, to
each end of them there is mortised a small piece of wood four feet long.
These appear to hang from the double cross-beams, and a short wooden
block is fixed to the lower part of them, on which a driver sits. Each
of these blocks has an iron clavis which holds a chain, and that in turn
a pole-bar. In this way it is possible for two horses to draw this whim,
now this way and now that; turn by turn one bucket is drawn out of the
shaft full and another is let down into it empty; if, indeed, the shaft
is very deep four horses turn the whim. When a bucket has been drawn up,
whether filled with dry or wet materials, it must be emptied, and a
workman inserts a grappling hook and overturns it; this hook hangs on a
chain made of three or four links, fixed to a timber.

[Illustration 167 (Horse whim): A--Toothed drum which is on the upright
axle. B--Horizontal axle. C--Drum which is made of rundles. D--Wheel
near it. E--Drum made of hubs. F--Brake. G--Oscillating beam. H--Short
beam. I--Hook.]

The fifth machine is partly like the whim, and partly like the third rag
and chain pump, which draws water by balls when turned by horse power,
as I will explain a little later. Like this pump, it is turned by horse
power and has two axles, namely, an upright one--about whose lower end,
which descends into an underground chamber, there is a toothed drum--and
a horizontal one, around which there is a drum made of rundles. It has
indeed two drums around its horizontal axle, similar to those of the big
machine, but smaller, because it draws buckets from a shaft almost two
hundred and forty feet deep. One drum is made of hubs to which cleats
are fixed, and the other is made of rundles; and near the latter is a
wheel two feet deep, measured on all sides around the axle, and one foot
wide; and against this impinges a brake,[10] which holds the whim when
occasion demands that it be stopped. This is necessary when the hide
buckets are emptied after being drawn up full of rock fragments or
earth, or as often as water is poured out of buckets similarly drawn up;
for this machine not only raises dry loads, but also wet ones, just like
the other four machines which I have already described. By this also,
timbers fastened on to its winding-chain are let down into a shaft. The
brake is made of a piece of wood one foot thick and half a foot long,
projecting from a timber that is suspended by a chain from one end of a
beam which oscillates on an iron pin, this in turn being supported in
the claws of an upright post; and from the other end of this oscillating
beam a long timber is suspended by a chain, and from this long timber
again a short beam is suspended. A workman sits on the short beam when
the machine needs to be stopped, and lowers it; he then inserts a plank
or small stick so that the two timbers are held down and cannot be
raised. In this way the brake is raised, and seizing the drum, presses
it so tightly that sparks often fly from it; the suspended timber to
which the short beam is attached, has several holes in which the chain
is fixed, so that it may be raised as much as is convenient. Above
this wheel there are boards to prevent the water from dripping down and
wetting it, for if it becomes wet the brake will not grip the machine so
well. Near the other drum is a pin from which hangs a chain, in the last
link of which there is an iron hook three feet long; a ring is fixed to
the bottom of the bucket, and this hook, being inserted into it, holds
the bucket back so that the water may be poured out or the fragments of
rock emptied.

[Illustration 168 (Sleigh for Ore): A--Sledge with box placed on it.
B--Sledge with sacks placed on it. C--Stick. D--Dogs with pack-saddles.
E--Pigskin sacks tied to a rope.]

The miners either carry, draw, or roll down the mountains the ore which
is hauled out of the shafts by these five machines or taken out of the
tunnels. In the winter time our people place a box on a sledge and draw
it down the low mountains with a horse; and in this season they also
fill sacks made of hide and load them on dogs, or place two or three of
them on a small sledge which is higher in the fore part and lower at the
back. Sitting on these sacks, not without risk of his life, the bold
driver guides the sledge as it rushes down the mountain into the valleys
with a stick, which he carries in his hand; when it is rushing down too
quickly he arrests it with the stick, or with the same stick brings it
back to the track when it is turning aside from its proper course. Some
of the Noricians[11] collect ore during the winter into sacks made of
bristly pigskins, and drag them down from the highest mountains, which
neither horses, mules nor asses can climb. Strong dogs, that are trained
to bear pack saddles, carry these sacks when empty into the mountains.
When they are filled with ore, bound with thongs, and fastened to a
rope, a man, winding the rope round his arm or breast, drags them down
through the snow to a place where horses, mules, or asses bearing
pack-saddles can climb. There the ore is removed from the pigskin sacks
and put into other sacks made of double or triple twilled linen thread,
and these placed on the pack-saddles of the beasts are borne down to the
works where the ores are washed or smelted. If, indeed, the horses,
mules, or asses are able to climb the mountains, linen sacks filled with
ore are placed on their saddles, and they carry these down the narrow
mountain paths, which are passable neither by wagons nor sledges, into
the valleys lying below the steeper portions of the mountains. But on
the declivity of cliffs which beasts cannot climb, are placed long open
boxes made of planks, with transverse cleats to hold them together; into
these boxes is thrown the ore which has been brought in wheelbarrows,
and when it has run down to the level it is gathered into sacks, and the
beasts either carry it away on their backs or drag it away after it has
been thrown into sledges or wagons. When the drivers bring ore down
steep mountain slopes they use two-wheeled carts, and they drag behind
them on the ground the trunks of two trees, for these by their weight
hold back the heavily-laden carts, which contain ore in their boxes, and
check their descent, and but for these the driver would often be obliged
to bind chains to the wheels. When these men bring down ore from
mountains which do not have such declivities, they use wagons whose beds
are twice as long as those of the carts. The planks of these are so put
together that, when the ore is unloaded by the drivers, they can be
raised and taken apart, for they are only held together by bars. The
drivers employed by the owners of the ore bring down thirty or sixty
wagon-loads, and the master of the works marks on a stick the number of
loads for each driver. But some ore, especially tin, after being taken
from the mines, is divided into eight parts, or into nine, if the owners
of the mine give "ninth parts" to the owners of the tunnel. This is
occasionally done by measuring with a bucket, but more frequently planks
are put together on a spot where, with the addition of the level ground
as a base, it forms a hollow box. Each owner provides for removing,
washing, and smelting that portion which has fallen to him.
(Illustration p. 170).

[Illustration 170 (Wagons for Hauling Ore): A--Horses with pack-saddles.
B--Long box placed on the slope of the cliff. C--Cleats thereof.
D--Wheelbarrow. E--Two-wheeled cart. F--Trunks of trees. G--Wagon.
H--Ore being unloaded from the wagon. I--Bars. K--Master of the works
marking the number of carts on a stick. L--Boxes into which are thrown
the ore which has to be divided.]

Into the buckets, drawn by these five machines, the boys or men throw
the earth and broken rock with shovels, or they fill them with their
hands; hence they get their name of shovellers. As I have said, the same
machines raise not only dry loads, but also wet ones, or water; but
before I explain the varied and diverse kinds of machines by which
miners are wont to draw water alone, I will explain how heavy bodies,
such as axles, iron chains, pipes, and heavy timbers, should be lowered
into deep vertical shafts. A windlass is erected whose barrel has on
each end four straight levers; it is fixed into upright beams and around
it is wound a rope, one end of which is fastened to the barrel and the
other to those heavy bodies which are slowly lowered down by workmen;
and if these halt at any part of the shaft they are drawn up a little
way. When these bodies are very heavy, then behind this windlass another
is erected just like it, that their combined strength may be equal to
the load, and that it may be lowered slowly. Sometimes for the same
reason, a pulley is fastened with cords to the roof-beam, and the rope
descends and ascends over it.

[Illustration 171 (Windlass): A--Windlass. B--Straight levers.
C--Upright beams. D--Rope. E--Pulley. F--Timbers to be lowered.]

Water is either hoisted or pumped out of shafts. It is hoisted up after
being poured into buckets or water-bags; the water-bags are generally
brought up by a machine whose water-wheels have double paddles, while
the buckets are brought up by the five machines already described,
although in certain localities the fourth machine also hauls up
water-bags of moderate size. Water is drawn up also by chains of
dippers, or by suction pumps, or by "rag and chain" pumps.[12] When
there is but a small quantity, it is either brought up in buckets or
drawn up by chains of dippers or suction pumps, and when there is much
water it is either drawn up in hide bags or by rag and chain pumps.

[Illustration 173 (Chain Pumps): A--Iron frame. B--Lowest axle.
C--Fly-wheel. D--Smaller drum made of rundles. E--Second axle.
F--Smaller toothed wheel. G--Larger drum made of rundles. H--Upper axle.
I--Larger toothed wheel. K--Bearings. L--Pillow. M--Framework. N--Oak
timber. O--Support of iron bearing. P--Roller. Q--Upper drum. R--Clamps.
S--Chain. T--Links. V--Dippers. X--Crank. Y--Lower drum or balance

First of all, I will describe the machines which draw water by chains of
dippers, of which there are three kinds. For the first, a frame is made
entirely of iron bars; it is two and a half feet high, likewise two and
a half feet long, and in addition one-sixth and one-quarter of a digit
long, one-fourth and one-twenty-fourth of a foot wide. In it there are
three little horizontal iron axles, which revolve in bearings or wide
pillows of steel, and also four iron wheels, of which two are made with
rundles and the same number are toothed. Outside the frame, around the
lowest axle, is a wooden fly-wheel, so that it can be more readily
turned, and inside the frame is a smaller drum which is made of eight
rundles, one-sixth and one twenty-fourth of a foot long. Around the
second axle, which does not project beyond the frame, and is therefore
only two and a half feet and one-twelfth and one-third part of a digit
long, there is on the one side, a smaller toothed wheel, which has
forty-eight teeth, and on the other side a larger drum, which is
surrounded by twelve rundles one-quarter of a foot long. Around the
third axle, which is one inch and one-third thick, is a larger toothed
wheel projecting one foot from the axle in all directions, which has
seventy-two teeth. The teeth of each wheel are fixed in with screws,
whose threads are screwed into threads in the wheel, so that those teeth
which are broken can be replaced by others; both the teeth and rundles
are steel. The upper axle projects beyond the frame, and is so skilfully
mortised into the body of another axle that it has the appearance of
being one; this axle proceeds through a frame made of beams which stands
around the shaft, into an iron fork set in a stout oak timber, and turns
on a roller made of pure steel. Around this axle is a drum of the kind
possessed by those machines which draw water by rag and chain; this drum
has triple curved iron clamps, to which the links of an iron chain hook
themselves, so that a great weight cannot tear them away. These links
are not whole like the links of other chains, but each one being curved
in the upper part on each side catches the one which comes next, whereby
it presents the appearance of a double chain. At the point where one
catches the other, dippers made of iron or brass plates and holding half
a _congius_[13] are bound to them with thongs; thus, if there are one
hundred links there will be the same number of dippers pouring out
water. When the shafts are inclined, the mouths of the dippers project
and are covered on the top that they may not spill out the water, but
when the shafts are vertical the dippers do not require a cover. By
fitting the end of the lowest small axle into the crank, the man who
works the crank turns the axle, and at the same time the drum whose
rundles turn the toothed wheel of the second axle; by this wheel is
driven the one that is made of rundles, which again turns the toothed
wheel of the upper small axle and thus the drum to which the clamps are
fixed. In this way the chain, together with the empty dippers, is slowly
let down, close to the footwall side of the vein, into the sump to the
bottom of the balance drum, which turns on a little iron axle, both ends
of which are set in a thick iron bearing. The chain is rolled round the
drum and the dippers fill with water; the chain being drawn up close to
the hangingwall side, carries the dippers filled with water above the
drum of the upper axle. Thus there are always three of the dippers
inverted and pouring water into a lip, from which it flows away into the
drain of the tunnel. This machine is less useful, because it cannot be
constructed without great expense, and it carries off but little water
and is somewhat slow, as also are other machines which possess a great
number of drums.

[Illustration 174 (Chain Pumps): A--Wheel which is turned by treading.
B--Axle. C--Double chain. D--Link of double chain. E--Dippers. F--Simple
clamps. G--Clamp with triple curves.]

The next machine of this kind, described in a few words by
Vitruvius,[14] more rapidly brings up dippers, holding a _congius_; for
this reason, it is more useful than the first one for drawing water out
of shafts, into which much water is continually flowing. This machine
has no iron frame nor drums, but has around its axle a wooden wheel
which is turned by treading; the axle, since it has no drum, does not
last very long. In other respects this pump resembles the first kind,
except that it differs from it by having a double chain. Clamps should
be fixed to the axle of this machine, just as to the drum of the other
one; some of these are made simple and others with triple curves, but
each kind has four barbs.

[Illustration 175 (Chain Pumps): A--Wheel whose paddles are turned by
the force of the stream. B--Axle. C--Drum of axle, to which clamps are
fixed. D--Chain. E--Link. F--Dippers. G--Balance drum.]

The third machine, which far excels the two just described, is made when
a running stream can be diverted to a mine; the impetus of the stream
striking the paddles revolves a water-wheel in place of the wheel turned
by treading. With regard to the axle, it is like the second machine, but
the drum which is round the axle, the chain, and the balance drum, are
like the first machine. It has much more capacious dippers than even the
second machine, but since the dippers are frequently broken, miners
rarely use these machines; for they prefer to lift out small quantities
of water by the first five machines or to draw it up by suction pumps,
or, if there is much water, to drain it by the rag and chain pump or to
bring it up in water-bags.

[Illustration 177 (Suction Pumps): A--Sump. B--Pipes. C--Flooring.
D--Trunk. E--Perforations of trunk. F--Valve. G--Spout. H--Piston-rod.
I--Hand-bar of piston. K--Shoe. L--Disc with round openings. M--Disc
with oval openings. N--Cover. O--This man is boring logs and making them
into pipes. P--Borer with auger. Q--Wider borer.]

Enough, then, of the first sort of pumps. I will now explain the other,
that is the pump which draws, by means of pistons, water which has been
raised by suction. Of these there are seven varieties, which though they
differ from one another in structure, nevertheless confer the same
benefits upon miners, though some to a greater degree than others. The
first pump is made as follows. Over the sump is placed a flooring,
through which a pipe--or two lengths of pipe, one of which is joined
into the other--are let down to the bottom of the sump; they are
fastened with pointed iron clamps driven in straight on both sides, so
that the pipes may remain fixed. The lower end of the lower pipe is
enclosed in a trunk two feet deep; this trunk, hollow like the pipe,
stands at the bottom of the sump, but the lower opening of it is blocked
with a round piece of wood; the trunk has perforations round about,
through which water flows into it. If there is one length of pipe, then
in the upper part of the trunk which has been hollowed out there is
enclosed a box of iron, copper, or brass, one palm deep, but without a
bottom, and a rounded valve so tightly closes it that the water, which
has been drawn up by suction, cannot run back; but if there are two
lengths of pipe, the box is enclosed in the lower pipe at the point of
junction. An opening or a spout in the upper pipe reaches to the drain
of the tunnel. Thus the workman, eager at his labour, standing on the
flooring boards, pushes the piston down into the pipe and draws it out
again. At the top of the piston-rod is a hand-bar and the bottom is
fixed in a shoe; this is the name given to the leather covering, which
is almost cone-shaped, for it is so stitched that it is tight at the
lower end, where it is fixed to the piston-rod which it surrounds, but
in the upper end where it draws the water it is wide open. Or else an
iron disc one digit thick is used, or one of wood six digits thick, each
of which is far superior to the shoe. The disc is fixed by an iron key
which penetrates through the bottom of the piston-rod, or it is screwed
on to the rod; it is round, with its upper part protected by a cover,
and has five or six openings, either round or oval, which taken together
present a star-like appearance; the disc has the same diameter as the
inside of the pipe, so that it can be just drawn up and down in it. When
the workman draws the piston up, the water which has passed in at the
openings of the disc, whose cover is then closed, is raised to the hole
or little spout, through which it flows away; then the valve of the box
opens, and the water which has passed into the trunk is drawn up by the
suction and rises into the pipe; but when the workman pushes down the
piston, the valve closes and allows the disc again to draw in the water.

[Illustration 178 (Suction Pumps): A--Erect timber. B--Axle. C--Sweep
which turns about the axle. D--Piston rod. E--Cross-bar. F--Ring with
which two pipes are generally joined.]

The piston of the second pump is more easily moved up and down. When
this pump is made, two beams are placed over the sump, one near the
right side of it, and the other near the left. To one beam a pipe is
fixed with iron clamps; to the other is fixed either the forked branch
of a tree or a timber cut out at the top in the shape of a fork, and
through the prongs of the fork a round hole is bored. Through a wide
round hole in the middle of a sweep passes an iron axle, so fastened
in the holes in the fork that it remains fixed, and the sweep turns on
this axle. In one end of the sweep the upper end of a piston-rod is
fastened with an iron key; at the other end a cross-bar is also fixed,
to the extreme ends of which are handles to enable it to be held more
firmly in the hands. And so when the workman pulls the cross-bar upward,
he forces the piston into the pipe; when he pushes it down again he
draws the piston out of the pipe; and thus the piston carries up the
water which has been drawn in at the openings of the disc, and the water
flows away through the spout into the drains. This pump, like the next
one, is identical with the first in all that relates to the piston,
disc, trunk, box, and valve.

[Illustration 179 (Suction Pumps): A--Posts. B--Axle. C--Wooden bars.
D--Piston rod. E--Short piece of wood. F--Drain. G--This man is
diverting the water which is flowing out of the drain, to prevent it
from flowing into the trenches which are being dug.]

The third pump is not unlike the one just described, but in place of one
upright, posts are erected with holes at the top, and in these holes the
ends of an axle revolve. To the middle of this axle are fixed two wooden
bars, to the end of one of which is fixed the piston, and to the end of
the other a heavy piece of wood, but short, so that it can pass between
the two posts and may move backward and forward. When the workman pushes
this piece of wood, the piston is drawn out of the pipe; when it returns
by its own weight, the piston is pushed in. In this way, the water
which the pipe contains is drawn through the openings in the disc and
emptied by the piston through the spout into the drain. There are some
who place a hand-bar underneath in place of the short piece of wood.
This pump, as also the last before described, is less generally used
among miners than the others.

[Illustration 180 (Duplex suction Pumps): A--Box. B--Lower part of box.
C--Upper part of same. D--Clamps. E--Pipes below the box. F--Column pipe
fixed above the box. G--Iron axle. H--Piston-rods. I--Washers to protect
the bearings. K--Leathers. L--Eyes in the axle. M--Rods whose ends are
weighted with lumps of lead. N--Crank. (_This plate is unlettered in the
first edition but corrected in those later._)]

The fourth kind is not a simple pump but a duplex one. It is made as
follows. A rectangular block of beechwood, five feet long, two and a
half feet wide, and one and a half feet thick, is cut in two and
hollowed out wide and deep enough so that an iron axle with cranks can
revolve in it. The axle is placed between the two halves of this box,
and the first part of the axle, which is in contact with the wood, is
round and the straight end forms a journal. Then the axle is bent down
the depth of a foot and again bent so as to continue straight, and at
this point a round piston-rod hangs from it; next it is bent up as far
as it was bent down; then it continues a little way straight again, and
then it is bent up a foot and again continues straight, at which point a
second round piston-rod is hung from it; afterward it is bent down the
same distance as it was bent up the last time; the other end of it,
which also acts as a journal, is straight. This part which protrudes
through the wood is protected by two iron washers in the shape of discs,
to which are fastened two leather washers of the same shape and size, in
order to prevent the water which is drawn into the box from gushing out.
These discs are around the axle; one of them is inside the box and the
other outside. Beyond this, the end of the axle is square and has two
eyes, in which are fixed two iron rods, and to their ends are weighted
lumps of lead, so that the axle may have a greater propensity to
revolve; this axle can easily be turned when its end has been mortised
in a crank. The upper part of the box is the shallower one, and the
lower part the deeper; the upper part is bored out once straight down
through the middle, the diameter of the opening being the same as the
outside diameter of the column pipe; the lower box has, side by side,
two apertures also bored straight down; these are for two pipes, the
space of whose openings therefore is twice as great as that of the upper
part; this lower part of the box is placed upon the two pipes, which are
fitted into it at their upper ends, and the lower ends of these pipes
penetrate into trunks which stand in the sump. These trunks have
perforations through which the water flows into them. The iron axle is
placed in the inside of the box, then the two iron piston-rods which
hang from it are let down through the two pipes to the depth of a foot.
Each piston has a screw at its lower end which holds a thick iron plate,
shaped like a disc and full of openings, covered with a leather, and
similarly to the other pump it has a round valve in a little box. Then
the upper part of the box is placed upon the lower one and properly
fitted to it on every side, and where they join they are bound by wide
thick iron plates, and held with small wide iron wedges, which are
driven in and are fastened with clamps. The first length of column pipe
is fixed into the upper part of the box, and another length of pipe
extends it, and a third again extends this one, and so on, another
extending on another, until the uppermost one reaches the drain of the
tunnel. When the crank worker turns the axle, the pistons in turn draw
the water through their discs; since this is done quickly, and since the
area of openings of the two pipes over which the box is set, is twice as
large as the opening of the column pipe which rises from the box, and
since the pistons do not lift the water far up, the impetus of the water
from the lower pipes forces it to rise and flow out of the column pipe
into the drain of the tunnel. Since a wooden box frequently cracks open,
it is better to make it of lead or copper or brass.

[Illustration 182 (Suction Pumps): A--Tappets of piston-rods. B--Cams of
the barrel. C--Square upper parts of piston-rods. D--Lower rounded parts
of piston-rods. E--Cross-beams. F--Pipes. G--Apertures of pipes.
H--Trough. (Fifth kind of pump--see p. 181).]

The fifth kind of pump is still less simple, for it is composed of two
or three pumps whose pistons are raised by a machine turned by men, for
each piston-rod has a tappet which is raised, each in succession, by two
cams on a barrel; two or four strong men turn it. When the pistons
descend into the pipes their discs draw the water; when they are raised
these force the water out through the pipes. The upper part of each of
these piston-rods, which is half a foot square, is held in a slot in a
cross-beam; the lower part, which drops down into the pipes, is made of
another piece of wood and is round. Each of these three pumps is
composed of two lengths of pipe fixed to the shaft timbers. This
machine draws the water higher, as much as twenty-four feet. If the
diameter of the pipes is large, only two pumps are made; if smaller,
three, so that by either method the volume of water is the same. This
also must be understood regarding the other machines and their pipes.
Since these pumps are composed of two lengths of pipe, the little iron
box having the iron valve which I described before, is not enclosed in a
trunk, but is in the lower length of pipe, at that point where it joins
the upper one; thus the rounded part of the piston-rod is only as long
as the upper length of pipe; but I will presently explain this more

[Illustration 183 (Suction Pumps): A--Water-wheel. B--Axle. C--Trunk on
which the lowest pipe stands. D--Basket surrounding trunk. (Sixth kind
of pump--see p. 184.)]

The sixth kind of pump would be just the same as the fifth were it not
that it has an axle instead of a barrel, turned not by men but by a
water-wheel, which is revolved by the force of water striking its
buckets. Since water-power far exceeds human strength, this machine
draws water through its pipes by discs out of a shaft more than one
hundred feet deep. The bottom of the lowest pipe, set in the sump, not
only of this pump but also of the others, is generally enclosed in a
basket made of wicker-work, to prevent wood shavings and other things
being sucked in. (See p. 183.)

[Illustration 185 (Suction Pumps): A--shaft. B--Bottom pump. C--First
tank. D--Second pump. E--Second tank. F--Third pump. G--Trough. H--The
iron set in the axle. I--First pump rod. K--Second pump rod. L--Third
pump rod. M--First piston rod. N--Second piston rod. O--Third piston
rod. P--Little axles. Q--"Claws."]

The seventh kind of pump, invented ten years ago, which is the most
ingenious, durable, and useful of all, can be made without much expense.
It is composed of several pumps, which do not, like those last
described, go down into the shaft together, but of which one is below
the other, for if there are three, as is generally the case, the lower
one lifts the water of the sump and pours it out into the first tank;
the second pump lifts again from that tank into a second tank, and the
third pump lifts it into the drain of the tunnel. A wheel fifteen feet
high raises the piston-rods of all these pumps at the same time and
causes them to drop together. The wheel is made to revolve by paddles,
turned by the force of a stream which has been diverted to the mountain.
The spokes of the water-wheel are mortised in an axle six feet long and
one foot thick, each end of which is surrounded by an iron band, but in
one end there is fixed an iron journal; to the other end is attached an
iron like this journal in its posterior part, which is a digit thick and
as wide as the end of the axle itself. Then the iron extends
horizontally, being rounded and about three digits in diameter, for the
length of a foot, and serves as a journal; thence, it bends to a height
of a foot in a curve, like the horn of the moon, after which it again
extends straight out for one foot; thus it comes about that this last
straight portion, as it revolves in an orbit becomes alternately a foot
higher and a foot lower than the first straight part. From this round
iron crank there hangs the first flat pump-rod, for the crank is fixed
in a perforation in the upper end of this flat pump-rod just as the iron
key of the first set of "claws" is fixed into the lower end. In order to
prevent the pump-rod from slipping off it, as it could easily do, and
that it may be taken off when necessary, its opening is wider than the
corresponding part of the crank, and it is fastened on both sides by
iron keys. To prevent friction, the ends of the pump-rods are protected
by iron plates or intervening leathers. This first pump-rod is about
twelve feet long, the other two are twenty-six feet, and each is a palm
wide and three digits thick. The sides of each pump-rod are covered and
protected by iron plates, which are held on by iron screws, so that a
part which has received damage can be repaired. In the "claws" is set a
small round axle, a foot and a half long and two palms thick. The ends
are encircled by iron bands to prevent the iron journals which revolve
in the iron bearings of the wood from slipping out of it.[15] From this
little axle the wooden "claws" extend two feet, with a width and
thickness of six digits; they are three palms distant from each other,
and both the inner and outer sides are covered with iron plates. Two
rounded iron keys two digits thick are immovably fixed into the claws.
The one of these keys perforates the lower end of the first pump-rod,
and the upper end of the second pump-rod which is held fast. The other
key, which is likewise immovable, perforates the iron end of the first
piston-rod, which is bent in a curve and is immovable. Each such
piston-rod is thirteen feet long and three digits thick, and descends
into the first pipe of each pump to such depth that its disc nearly
reaches the valve-box. When it descends into the pipe, the water,
penetrating through the openings of the disc, raises the leather, and
when the piston-rod is raised the water presses down the leather, and
this supports its weight; then the valve closes the box as a door closes
an entrance. The pipes are joined by two iron bands, one palm wide, one
outside the other, but the inner one is sharp all round that it may fit
into each pipe and hold them together. Although at the present time
pipes lack the inner band, still they have nipples by which they are
joined together, for the lower end of the upper one holds the upper end
of the lower one, each being hewn away for a length of seven digits, the
former inside, the latter outside, so that the one can fit into the
other. When the piston-rod descends into the first pipe, that valve
which I have described is closed; when the piston-rod is raised, the
valve is opened so that the water can run in through the perforations.
Each one of such pumps is composed of two lengths of pipe, each of which
is twelve feet long, and the inside diameter is seven digits. The lower
one is placed in the sump of the shaft, or in a tank, and its lower end
is blocked by a round piece of wood, above which there are six
perforations around the pipe through which the water flows into it. The
upper part of the upper pipe has a notch one foot deep and a palm wide,
through which the water flows away into a tank or trough. Each tank is
two feet long and one foot wide and deep. There is the same number of
axles, "claws," and rods of each kind as there are pumps; if there are
three pumps, there are only two tanks, because the sump of the shaft and
the drain of the tunnel take the place of two. The following is the way
this machine draws water from a shaft. The wheel being turned raises the
first pump-rod, and the pump-rod raises the first "claw," and thus also
the second pump-rod, and the first piston-rod; then the second pump-rod
raises the second "claw," and thus the third pump-rod and the second
piston-rod; then the third pump-rod raises the third "claw" and the
third piston-rod, for there hangs no pump-rod from the iron key of
these claws, for it can be of no use in the last pump. In turn, when the
first pump-rod descends, each set of "claws" is lowered, each pump-rod
and each piston-rod. And by this system, at the same time the water is
lifted into the tanks and drained out of them; from the sump at the
bottom of the shaft it is drained out, and it is poured into the trough
of the tunnel. Further, around the main axle there may be placed two
water wheels, if the river supplies enough water to turn them, and from
the back part of each round iron crank, one or two pump-rods can be
hung, each of which can move the piston-rods of three pumps. Lastly, it
is necessary that the shafts from which the water is pumped out in pipes
should be vertical, for as in the case of the hauling machines, all
pumps which have pipes do not draw the water so high if the pipes are
inclined in inclined shafts, as if they are placed vertically in
vertical shafts.

[Illustration 187 (Suction Pumps): A--Water wheel of upper machine.
B--Its pump. C--Its trough. D--Wheel of lower machine. E--Its pump.

If the river does not supply enough water-power to turn the
last-described pump, which happens because of the nature of the locality
or occurs during the summer season when there are daily droughts, a
machine is built with a wheel so low and light that the water of ever so
little a stream can turn it. This water, falling into a race, runs
therefrom on to a second high and heavy wheel of a lower machine, whose
pump lifts the water out of a deep shaft. Since, however, the water of
so small a stream cannot alone revolve the lower water-wheel, the axle
of the latter is turned at the start with a crank worked by two men, but
as soon as it has poured out into a pool the water which has been drawn
up by the pumps, the upper wheel draws up this water by its own pump,
and pours it into the race, from which it flows on to the lower
water-wheel and strikes its buckets. So both this water from the mine,
as well as the water of the stream, being turned down the races on to
that subterranean wheel of the lower machine, turns it, and water is
pumped out of the deeper part of the shaft by means of two or three

[Illustration 189 (Duplex suction Pumps): A--Upper axle. B--Wheel whose
buckets the force of the stream strikes. C--Toothed drum. D--Second
axle. E--Drum composed of rundles. F--Curved round irons. G--Rows of

If the stream supplies enough water straightway to turn a higher and
heavier water-wheel, then a toothed drum is fixed to the other end of
the axle, and this turns the drum made of rundles on another axle set
below it. To each end of this lower axle there is fitted a crank of
round iron curved like the horns of the moon, of the kind employed in
machines of this description. This machine, since it has rows of pumps
on each side, draws great quantities of water.

[Illustration 191 (Rag and Chain Pumps): A--Wheel. B--Axle. C--Journals.
D--Pillows. E--Drum. F--Clamps. G--Drawing-chain. H--Timbers. I--Balls.
K--Pipe. L--Race of stream.]

Of the rag and chain pumps there are six kinds known to us, of which the
first is made as follows: A cave is dug under the surface of earth or in
a tunnel, and timbered on all sides by stout posts and planks, to
prevent either the men from being crushed or the machine from being
broken by its collapse. In this cave, thus timbered, is placed a
water-wheel fitted to an angular axle. The iron journals of the axle
revolve in iron pillows, which are held in timbers of sufficient
strength. The wheel is generally twenty-four feet high, occasionally
thirty, and in no way different from those which are made for grinding
corn, except that it is a little narrower. The axle has on one side a
drum with a groove in the middle of its circumference, to which are
fixed many four-curved iron clamps. In these clamps catch the links of
the chain, which is drawn through the pipes out of the sump, and which
again falls, through a timbered opening, right down to the bottom into
the sump to a balancing drum. There is an iron band around the small
axle of the balancing drum, each journal of which revolves in an iron
bearing fixed to a timber. The chain turning about this drum brings up
the water by the balls through the pipes. Each length of pipe is
encircled and protected by five iron bands, a palm wide and a digit
thick, placed at equal distances from each other; the first band on the
pipe is shared in common with the preceding length of pipe into which it
is fitted, the last band with the succeeding length of pipe which is
fitted into it. Each length of pipe, except the first, is bevelled on
the outer circumference of the upper end to a distance of seven digits
and for a depth of three digits, in order that it may be inserted into
the length of pipe which goes before it; each, except the last, is
reamed out on the inside of the lower end to a like distance, but to the
depth of a palm, that it may be able to take the end of the pipe which
follows. And each length of pipe is fixed with iron clamps to the
timbers of the shaft, that it may remain stationary. Through this
continuous series of pipes, the water is drawn by the balls of the chain
up out of the sump as far as the tunnel, where it flows but into the
drains through an aperture in the highest pipe. The balls which lift the
water are connected by the iron links of the chain, and are six feet
distant from one another; they are made of the hair of a horse's tail
sewn into a covering to prevent it from being pulled out by the iron
clamps on the drum; the balls are of such size that one can be held in
each hand. If this machine is set up on the surface of the earth, the
stream which turns the water-wheel is led away through open-air ditches;
if in a tunnel, the water is led away through the subterranean drains.
The buckets of the water-wheel, when struck by the impact of the stream,
move forward and turn the wheel, together with the drum, whereby the
chain is wound up and the balls expel the water through the pipes. If
the wheel of this machine is twenty-four feet in diameter, it draws
water from a shaft two hundred and ten feet deep; if thirty feet in
diameter, it will draw water from a shaft two hundred and forty feet
deep. But such work requires a stream with greater water-power.

The next pump has two drums, two rows of pipes and two drawing-chains
whose balls lift out the water; otherwise they are like the last pump.
This pump is usually built when an excessive amount of water flows into
the sump. These two pumps are turned by water-power; indeed, water draws

The following is the way of indicating the increase or decrease of the
water in an underground sump, whether it is pumped by this rag and chain
pump or by the first pump, or the third, or some other. From a beam
which is as high above the shaft as the sump is deep, is hung a cord, to
one end of which there is fastened a stone, the other end being attached
to a plank. The plank is lowered down by an iron wire fastened to the
other end; when the stone is at the mouth of the shaft the plank is
right down the shaft in the sump, in which water it floats. This plank
is so heavy that it can drag down the wire and its iron clasp and hook,
together with the cord, and thus pull the stone upwards. Thus, as the
water decreases, the plank descends and the stone is raised; on the
contrary, when the water increases the plank rises and the stone is
lowered. When the stone nearly touches the beam, since this indicates
that the water has been exhausted from the sump by the pump, the
overseer in charge of the machine closes the water-race and stops the
water-wheel; when the stone nearly touches the ground at the side of the
shaft, this indicates that the sump is full of water which has again
collected in it, because the water raises the plank and thus the stone
drags back both the rope and the iron wire; then the overseer opens the
water-race, whereupon the water of the stream again strikes the buckets
of the water-wheel and turns the pump. As workmen generally cease from
their labours on the yearly holidays, and sometimes on working days,
and are thus not always near the pump, and as the pump, if necessary,
must continue to draw water all the time, a bell rings aloud
continuously, indicating that this pump, or any other kind, is uninjured
and nothing is preventing its turning. The bell is hung by a cord from a
small wooden axle held in the timbers which stand over the shaft, and a
second long cord whose upper end is fastened to the small axle is
lowered into the shaft; to the lower end of this cord is fastened a
piece of wood; and as often as a cam on the main axle strikes it, so
often does the bell ring and give forth a sound.

[Illustration 193 (Rag and Chain Pumps): A--Upright axle. B--Toothed
wheel. C--Teeth. D--Horizontal axle. E--Drum which is made of rundles.
F--Second drum. G--Drawing-chain. H--The balls.]

The third pump of this kind is employed by miners when no river capable
of turning a water-wheel can be diverted, and it is made as follows.
They first dig a chamber and erect strong timbers and planks to prevent
the sides from falling in, which would overwhelm the pump and kill the
men. The roof of the chamber is protected with contiguous timbers, so
arranged that the horses which pull the machine can travel over it. Next
they again set up sixteen beams forty feet long and one foot wide and
thick, joined by clamps at the top and spreading apart at the bottom,
and they fit the lower end of each beam into a separate sill laid flat
on the ground, and join these by a post; thus there is created a
circular area of which the diameter is fifty feet. Through an opening in
the centre of this area there descends an upright square axle,
forty-five feet long and a foot and a half wide and thick; its lower
pivot revolves in a socket in a block laid flat on the ground in the
chamber, and the upper pivot revolves in a bearing in a beam which is
mortised into two beams at the summit beneath the clamps; the lower
pivot is seventeen feet distant from either side of the chamber, _i.e._,
from its front and rear. At the height of a foot above its lower end,
the axle has a toothed wheel, the diameter of which is twenty-two feet.
This wheel is composed of four spokes and eight rim pieces; the spokes
are fifteen feet long and three-quarters of a foot wide and thick[17];
one end of them is mortised in the axle, the other in the two rims where
they are joined together. These rims are three-quarters of a foot thick
and one foot wide, and from them there rise and project upright teeth
three-quarters of a foot high, half a foot wide, and six digits thick.
These teeth turn a second horizontal axle by means of a drum composed of
twelve rundles, each three feet long and six digits wide and thick. This
drum, being turned, causes the axle to revolve, and around this axle
there is a drum having iron clamps with fourfold curves in which catch
the links of a chain, which draws water through pipes by means of balls.
The iron journals of this horizontal axle revolve on pillows which are
set in the centre of timbers. Above the roof of the chamber there are
mortised into the upright axle the ends of two beams which rise
obliquely; the upper ends of these beams support double cross-beams,
likewise mortised to the axle. In the outer end of each cross-beam there
is mortised a small wooden piece which appears to hang down; in this
wooden piece there is similarly mortised at the lower end a short
board; this has an iron key which engages a chain, and this chain again
a pole-bar. This machine, which draws water from a shaft two hundred and
forty feet deep, is worked by thirty-two horses; eight of them work for
four hours, and then these rest for twelve hours, and the same number
take their place. This kind of machine is employed at the foot of the
Harz[18] mountains and in the neighbourhood. Further, if necessity
arises, several pumps of this kind are often built for the purpose of
mining one vein, but arranged differently in different localities
varying according to the depth. At Schemnitz, in the Carpathian
mountains, there are three pumps, of which the lowest lifts water from
the lowest sump to the first drains, through which it flows into the
second sump; the intermediate one lifts from the second sump to the
second drain, from which it flows into the third sump; and the upper one
lifts it to the drains of the tunnel, through which it flows away. This
system of three machines of this kind is turned by ninety-six horses;
these horses go down to the machines by an inclined shaft, which slopes
and twists like a screw and gradually descends. The lowest of these
machines is set in a deep place, which is distant from the surface of
the ground 660 feet.

[Illustration 194 (Rag and Chain Pumps): A--Axle. B--Drum.
C--Drawing-chain. D--Balls. E--Clamps.]

The fourth species of pump belongs to the same genera, and is made as
follows. Two timbers are erected, and in openings in them, the ends of a
barrel revolve. Two or four strong men turn the barrel, that is to say,
one or two pull the cranks, and one or two push them, and in this way
help the others; alternately another two or four men take their place.
The barrel of this machine, just like the horizontal axle of the other
machines, has a drum whose iron clamps catch the links of a
drawing-chain. Thus water is drawn through the pipes by the balls from a
depth of forty-eight feet. Human strength cannot draw water higher than
this, because such very heavy labour exhausts not only men, but even
horses; only water-power can drive continuously a drum of this kind.
Several pumps of this kind, as of the last, are often built for the
purpose of mining on a single vein, but they are arranged differently
for different positions and depths.

[Illustration 195 (Rag and Chain Pumps): A--Axles. B--Levers. C--Toothed
drum. D--Drum made of rundles. E--Drum in which iron clamps are fixed.]

The fifth pump of this kind is partly like the third and partly like
the fourth, because it is turned by strong men like the last, and like
the third it has two axles and three drums, though each axle is
horizontal. The journals of each axle are so fitted in the pillows of
the beams that they cannot fly out; the lower axle has a crank at one
end and a toothed drum at the other end; the upper axle has at one end a
drum made of rundles, and at the other end, a drum to which are fixed
iron clamps, in which the links of a chain catch in the same way as
before, and from the same depth, draw water through pipes by means of
balls. This revolving machine is turned by two pairs of men alternately,
for one pair stands working while the other sits taking a rest; while
they are engaged upon the task of turning, one pulls the crank and the
other pushes, and the drums help to make the pump turn more easily.

[Illustration 197 (Rag and Chain Pumps): A--Axles. B--Wheel which is
turned by treading. C--Toothed wheel. D--Drum made of rundles. E--Drum
to which are fixed iron clamps. F--Second wheel. G--Balls.]

The sixth pump of this kind likewise has two axles. At one end of the
lower axle is a wheel which is turned by two men treading, this is
twenty-three feet high and four feet wide, so that one man may stand
alongside the other. At the other end of this axle is a toothed wheel.
The upper[19] axle has two drums and one wheel; the first drum is made
of rundles, and to the other there are fixed the iron clamps. The wheel
is like the one on the second machine which is chiefly used for drawing
earth and broken rock out of shafts. The treaders, to prevent themselves
from falling, grasp in their hands poles which are fixed to the inner
sides of the wheel. When they turn this wheel, the toothed drum being
made to revolve, sets in motion the other drum which is made of rundles,
by which means again the links of the chain catch to the cleats of the
third drum and draw water through pipes by means of balls,--from a depth
of sixty-six feet.

[Illustration 199 (Baling Water): A--Reservoir. B--Race. C, D--Levers.
E, F--Troughs under the water gates. G, H--Double rows of buckets.
I--Axle. K--Larger drum. L--Drawing-chain. M--Bag. N--Hanging cage.
O--Man who directs the machine. P, Q--Men emptying bags.]

But the largest machine of all those which draw water is the one which
follows. First of all a reservoir is made in a timbered chamber; this
reservoir is eighteen feet long and twelve feet wide and high. Into this
reservoir a stream is diverted through a water-race or through the
tunnel; it has two entrances and the same number of gates. Levers are
fixed to the upper part of these gates, by which they can be raised and
let down again, so that by one way the gates are opened and in the other
way closed. Beneath the openings are two plank troughs which carry the
water flowing from the reservoir, and pour it on to the buckets of the
water-wheel, the impact of which turns the wheel. The shorter trough
carries the water, which strikes the buckets that turn the wheel toward
the reservoir, and the longer trough carries the water which strikes
those buckets that turn the wheel in the opposite direction. The casing
or covering of the wheel is made of joined boards to which strips are
affixed on the inner side. The wheel itself is thirty-six feet in
diameter, and is mortised to an axle, and it has, as I have already
said, two rows of buckets, of which one is set the opposite way to the
other, so that the wheel may be turned toward the reservoir or in the
opposite direction. The axle is square and is thirty-five feet long
and two feet thick and wide. Beyond the wheel, at a distance of six
feet, the axle has four hubs, one foot wide and thick, each one of which
is four feet distant from the next; to these hubs are fixed by iron
nails as many pieces of wood as are necessary to cover the hubs, and, in
order that the wood pieces may fit tight, they are broader on the
outside and narrower on the inside; in this way a drum is made, around
which is wound a chain to whose ends are hooked leather bags. The reason
why a drum of this kind is made, is that the axle may be kept in good
condition, because this drum when it becomes worn away by use can be
repaired easily. Further along the axle, not far from the end, is
another drum one foot broad, projecting two feet on all sides around the
axle. And to this, when occasion demands, a brake is applied forcibly
and holds back the machine; this kind of brake I have explained before.
Near the axle, in place of a hopper, there is a floor with a
considerable slope, having in front of the shaft a width of fifteen feet
and the same at the back; at each side of it there is a stout post
carrying an iron chain which has a large hook. Five men operate this
machine; one lets down the doors which close the reservoir gates, or by
drawing down the levers, opens the water-races; this man, who is the
director of this machine, stands in a hanging cage beside the reservoir.
When one bag has been drawn out nearly as far as the sloping floor, he
closes the water gate in order that the wheel may be stopped; when the
bag has been emptied he opens the other water gate, in order that the
other set of buckets may receive the water and drive the wheel in the
opposite direction. If he cannot close the water-gate quickly enough,
and the water continues to flow, he calls out to his comrade and bids
him raise the brake upon the drum and stop the wheel. Two men
alternately empty the bags, one standing on that part of the floor which
is in front of the shaft, and the other on that part which is at the
back. When the bag has been nearly drawn up--of which fact a certain
link of the chain gives warning--the man who stands on the one part of
the floor, catches a large iron hook in one link of the chain, and pulls
out all the subsequent part of the chain toward the floor, where the bag
is emptied by the other man. The object of this hook is to prevent the
chain, by its own weight, from pulling down the other empty bag, and
thus pulling the whole chain from its axle and dropping it down the
shaft. His comrade in the work, seeing that the bag filled with water
has been nearly drawn out, calls to the director of the machine and bids
him close the water of the tower so that there will be time to empty the
bag; this being emptied, the director of the machine first of all
slightly opens the other water-gate of the tower to allow the end of the
chain, together with the empty bag, to be started into the shaft again,
and then opens entirely the water-gates. When that part of the chain
which has been pulled on to the floor has been wound up again, and has
been let down over the shaft from the drum, he takes out the large hook
which was fastened into a link of the chain. The fifth man stands in a
sort of cross-cut beside the sump, that he may not be hurt, if it should
happen that a link is broken and part of the chain or anything else
should fall down; he guides the bag with a wooden shovel, and fills it
with water if it fails to take in the water spontaneously. In these
days, they sew an iron band into the top of each bag that it may
constantly remain open, and when lowered into the sump may fill itself
with water, and there is no need for a man to act as governor of the
bags. Further, in these days, of those men who stand on the floor the
one empties the bags, and the other closes the gates of the reservoir
and opens them again, and the same man usually fixes the large hook in
the link of the chain. In this way, three men only are employed in
working this machine; or even--since sometimes the one who empties the
bag presses the brake which is raised against the other drum and thus
stops the wheel--two men take upon themselves the whole labour.

But enough of haulage machines; I will now speak of ventilating
machines. If a shaft is very deep and no tunnel reaches to it, or no
drift from another shaft connects with it, or when a tunnel is of great
length and no shaft reaches to it, then the air does not replenish
itself. In such a case it weighs heavily on the miners, causing them to
breathe with difficulty, and sometimes they are even suffocated, and
burning lamps are also extinguished. There is, therefore, a necessity
for machines which the Greeks call [Greek: pneumatikai] and the Latins
_spiritales_--though they do not give forth any sound--which enable the
miners to breathe easily and carry on their work.

[Illustration 201 (Windsails for Ventilation): A--Sills. B--Pointed
stakes. C--Cross-beams. D--Upright planks. E--Hollows. F--Winds.
G--Covering disc. H--Shafts. I--Machine without a covering.]

These devices are of three genera. The first receives and diverts into
the shaft the blowing of the wind, and this genus is divided into three
species, of which the first is as follows. Over the shaft--to which no
tunnel connects--are placed three sills a little longer than the shaft,
the first over the front, the second over the middle, and the third over
the back of the shaft. Their ends have openings, through which pegs,
sharpened at the bottom, are driven deeply into the ground so as to hold
them immovable, in the same way that the sills of the windlass are
fixed. Each of these sills is mortised into each of three cross-beams,
of which one is at the right side of the shaft, the second at the left,
and the third in the middle. To the second sill and the second
cross-beam--each of which is placed over the middle of the shaft--planks
are fixed which are joined in such a manner that the one which precedes
always fits into the groove of the one which follows. In this way four
angles and the same number of intervening hollows are created, which
collect the winds that blow from all directions. The planks are roofed
above with a cover made in a circular shape, and are open below, in
order that the wind may not be diverted upward and escape, but may be
carried downward; and thereby the winds of necessity blow into the
shafts through these four openings. However, there is no need to roof
this kind of machine in those localities in which it can be so placed
that the wind can blow down through its topmost part.

[Illustration 202 (Windsails for Ventilation): A--Projecting mouth of
conduit. B--Planks fixed to the mouth of the conduit which does not

The second machine of this genus turns the blowing wind into a shaft
through a long box-shaped conduit, which is made of as many lengths of
planks, joined together, as the depth of the shaft requires; the joints
are smeared with fat, glutinous clay moistened with water. The mouth of
this conduit either projects out of the shaft to a height of three or
four feet, or it does not project; if it projects, it is shaped like a
rectangular funnel, broader and wider at the top than the conduit
itself, that it may the more easily gather the wind; if it does not
project, it is not broader than the conduit, but planks are fixed to it
away from the direction in which the wind is blowing, which catch the
wind and force it into the conduit.

[Illustration 203 (Windsails for Ventilation): A--Wooden barrels.
B--Hoops. C--Blow-holes. D--Pipe. E--Table. F--Axle. G--Opening in the
bottom of the barrel. H--Wing.]

The third of this genus of machine is made of a pipe or pipes and a
barrel. Above the uppermost pipe there is erected a wooden barrel, four
feet high and three feet in diameter, bound with wooden hoops; it has a
square blow-hole always open, which catches the breezes and guides them
down either by a pipe into a conduit or by many pipes into the shaft. To
the top of the upper pipe is attached a circular table as thick as the
bottom of the barrel, but of a little less diameter, so that the barrel
may be turned around on it; the pipe projects out of the table and is
fixed in a round opening in the centre of the bottom of the barrel. To
the end of the pipe a perpendicular axle is fixed which runs through the
centre of the barrel into a hole in the cover, in which it is fastened,
in the same way as at the bottom. Around this fixed axle and the table
on the pipe, the movable barrel is easily turned by a zephyr, or much
more by a wind, which govern the wing on it. This wing is made of thin
boards and fixed to the upper part of the barrel on the side furthest
away from the blow-hole; this, as I have said, is square and always
open. The wind, from whatever quarter of the world it blows, drives the
wing straight toward the opposite direction, in which way the barrel
turns the blow-hole towards the wind itself; the blow-hole receives the
wind, and it is guided down into the shaft by means of the conduit or

[Illustration 204 (Ventilation Fans): A--Drum. B--Box-shaped casing.
C--Blow-hole. D--Second hole. E--Conduit. F--Axle. G--Lever of axle.

The second genus of blowing machine is made with fans, and is likewise
varied and of many forms, for the fans are either fitted to a windlass
barrel or to an axle. If to an axle, they are either contained in a
hollow drum, which is made of two wheels and a number of boards joining
them together, or else in a box-shaped casing. The drum is stationary
and closed on the sides, except for round holes of such size that the
axle may turn in them; it has two square blow-holes, of which the upper
one receives the air, while the lower one empties into the conduit
through which the air is led down the shaft. The ends of the axle, which
project on each side of the drum, are supported by forked posts or
hollowed beams plated with thick iron; one end of the axle has a crank,
while in the other end are fixed four rods with thick heavy ends, so
that they weight the axle, and when turned, make it prone to motion as
it revolves. And so, when the workman turns the axle by the crank, the
fans, the description of which I will give a little later, draw in the
air by the blow-hole, and force it through the other blow-hole which
leads to the conduit, and through this conduit the air penetrates into
the shaft.

[Illustration 205 (Ventilation Fans): A--Box-shaped casing placed on the
ground. B--Its blow-hole. C--Its axle with fans. D--Crank of the axle.
E--Rods of same. F--Casing set on timbers. G--Sails which the axle has
outside the casing.]

The one with the box-shaped casing is furnished with just the same
things as the drum, but the drum is far superior to the box; for the
fans so fill the drum that they almost touch it on every side, and drive
into the conduit all the air that has been accumulated; but they cannot
thus fill the box-shaped casing, on account of its angles, into which
the air partly retreats; therefore it cannot be as useful as the drum.
The kind with a box-shaped casing is not only placed on the ground, but
is also set up on timbers like a windmill, and its axle, in place of a
crank, has four sails outside, like the sails of a windmill. When these
are struck by the wind they turn the axle, and in this way its
fans--which are placed within the casing--drive the air through the
blow-hole and the conduit into the shaft. Although this machine has no
need of men whom it is necessary to pay to work the crank, still when
the sky is devoid of wind, as it often is, the machine does not turn,
and it is therefore less suitable than the others for ventilating a

[Illustration 206 (Ventilation Fans): A--Hollow drum. B--Its blow-hole.
C--Axle with fans. D--Drum which is made of rundles. E--Lower axle.
F--Its toothed wheel. G--Water wheel.]

In the kind where the fans are fixed to an axle, there is generally a
hollow stationary drum at one end of the axle, and on the other end is
fixed a drum made of rundles. This rundle drum is turned by the toothed
wheel of a lower axle, which is itself turned by a wheel whose buckets
receive the impetus of water. If the locality supplies an abundance of
water this machine is most useful, because to turn the crank does not
need men who require pay, and because it forces air without cessation
through the conduit into the shaft.

[Illustration 207 (Ventilation Fans): A--First kind of fan. B--Second
kind of fan. C--Third kind of fan. D--Quadrangular part of axle.
E--Round part of same. F--Crank.]

Of the fans which are fixed on to an axle contained in a drum or box,
there are three sorts. The first sort is made of thin boards of such
length and width as the height and width of the drum or box require; the
second sort is made of boards of the same width, but shorter, to which
are bound long thin blades of poplar or some other flexible wood; the
third sort has boards like the last, to which are bound double and
triple rows of goose feathers. This last is less used than the second,
which in turn is less used than the first. The boards of the fan are
mortised into the quadrangular parts of the barrel axle.

[Illustration 208 (Bellows for mine ventilation): A--Smaller part of
shaft. B--Square conduit. C--Bellows. D--Larger part of shaft.]

Blowing machines of the third genus, which are no less varied and of no
fewer forms than those of the second genus, are made with bellows, for
by its blasts the shafts and tunnels are not only furnished with air
through conduits or pipes, but they can also be cleared by suction of
their heavy and pestilential vapours. In the latter case, when the
bellows is opened it draws the vapours from the conduits through its
blow-hole and sucks these vapours into itself; in the former case, when
it is compressed, it drives the air through its nozzle into the conduits
or pipes. They are compressed either by a man, or by a horse or by
water-power; if by a man, the lower board of a large bellows is fixed to
the timbers above the conduit which projects out of the shaft, and so
placed that when the blast is blown through the conduit, its nozzle is
set in the conduit. When it is desired to suck out heavy or pestilential
vapours, the blow-hole of the bellows is fitted all round the mouth of
the conduit. Fixed to the upper bellows board is a lever which couples
with another running downward from a little axle, into which it is
mortised so that it may remain immovable; the iron journals of this
little axle revolve in openings of upright posts; and so when the
workman pulls down the lever the upper board of the bellows is raised,
and at the same time the flap of the blow-hole is dragged open by the
force of the wind. If the nozzle of the bellows is enclosed in the
conduit it draws pure air into itself, but if its blow-hole is fitted
all round the mouth of the conduit it exhausts the heavy and
pestilential vapours out of the conduit and thus from the shaft, even if
it is one hundred and twenty feet deep. A stone placed on the upper
board of the bellows depresses it and then the flap of the blow-hole is
closed. The bellows, by the first method, blows fresh air into the
conduit through its nozzle, and by the second method blows out through
the nozzle the heavy and pestilential vapours which have been collected.
In this latter case fresh air enters through the larger part of the
shaft, and the miners getting the benefit of it can sustain their toil.
A certain smaller part of the shaft which forms a kind of estuary,
requires to be partitioned off from the other larger part by
uninterrupted lagging, which reaches from the top of the shaft to the
bottom; through this part the long but narrow conduit reaches down
nearly to the bottom of the shaft.

[Illustration 209 (Bellows for mine ventilation): A--Tunnel. B--Pipe.
C--Nozzle of double bellows.]

When no shaft has been sunk to such depth as to meet a tunnel driven far
into a mountain, these machines should be built in such a manner that
the workman can move them about. Close by the drains of the tunnel
through which the water flows away, wooden pipes should be placed and
joined tightly together in such a manner that they can hold the air;
these should reach from the mouth of the tunnel to its furthest end. At
the mouth of the tunnel the bellows should be so placed that through its
nozzle it can blow its accumulated blasts into the pipes or the conduit;
since one blast always drives forward another, they penetrate into the
tunnel and change the air, whereby the miners are enabled to continue
their work.

[Illustration 211 (Bellows for mine ventilation): A--Machine first
described. B--This workman, treading with his feet, is compressing the
bellows. C--Bellows without nozzles. D--Hole by which heavy vapours or
blasts are blown out. E--Conduits. F--Tunnel. G--Second machine
described. H--Wooden wheel. I--Its steps. K--Bars. L--Hole in same
wheel. M--Pole. N--Third machine described. O--Upright axle. P--Its
toothed drum. Q--Horizontal axle. R--Its drum which is made of rundles.]

If heavy vapours need to be drawn off from the tunnels, generally three
double or triple bellows, without nozzles and closed in the forepart,
are placed upon benches. A workman compresses them by treading with his
feet, just as persons compress those bellows of the organs which give
out varied and sweet sounds in churches. These heavy vapours are thus
drawn along the air-pipes and through the blow-hole of the lower bellows
board, and are expelled through the blow-hole of the upper bellows board
into the open air, or into some shaft or drift. This blow-hole has a
flap-valve, which the noxious blast opens, as often as it passes out.
Since one volume of air constantly rushes in to take the place of
another which has been drawn out by the bellows, not only is the heavy
air drawn out of a tunnel as great as 1,200 feet long, or even longer,
but also the wholesome air is naturally drawn in through that part of
the tunnel which is open outside the conduits. In this way the air is
changed, and the miners are enabled to carry on the work they have
begun. If machines of this kind had not been invented, it would be
necessary for miners to drive two tunnels into a mountain, and
continually, at every two hundred feet at most, to sink a shaft from the
upper tunnel to the lower one, that the air passing into the one, and
descending by the shafts into the other, would be kept fresh for the
miners; this could not be done without great expense.

There are two different machines for operating, by means of horses, the
above described bellows. The first of these machines has on its axle a
wooden wheel, the rim of which is covered all the way round by steps; a
horse is kept continually within bars, like those within which horses
are held to be shod with iron, and by treading these steps with its feet
it turns the wheel, together with the axle; the cams on the axle press
down the sweeps which compress the bellows. The way the instrument is
made which raises the bellows again, and also the benches on which the
bellows rest, I will explain more clearly in Book IX. Each bellows, if
it draws heavy vapours out of a tunnel, blows them out of the hole in
the upper board; if they are drawn out of a shaft, it blows them out
through its nozzle. The wheel has a round hole, which is transfixed with
a pole when the machine needs to be stopped.

The second machine has two axles; the upright one is turned by a horse,
and its toothed drum turns a drum made of rundles on a horizontal axle;
in other respects this machine is like the last. Here, also, the nozzles
of the bellows placed in the conduits blow a blast into the shaft or

[Illustration 212 (Ventilating with Damp Cloth): A--Tunnel. B--Linen

In the same way that this last machine can refresh the heavy air of a
shaft or tunnel, so also could the old system of ventilating by the
constant shaking of linen cloths, which Pliny[20] has explained; the air
not only grows heavier with the depth of a shaft, of which fact he has
made mention, but also with the length of a tunnel.

[Illustration 213 (Descent into Mines): A--Descending into the shaft by
ladders. B--By sitting on a stick. C--By sitting on the dirt.
D--Descending by steps cut in the rock.]

The climbing machines of miners are ladders, fixed to one side of the
shaft, and these reach either to the tunnel or to the bottom of the
shaft. I need not describe how they are made, because they are used
everywhere, and need not so much skill in their construction as care in
fixing them. However, miners go down into mines not only by the steps of
ladders, but they are also lowered into them while sitting on a stick or
a wicker basket, fastened to the rope of one of the three drawing
machines which I described at first. Further, when the shafts are much
inclined, miners and other workmen sit in the dirt which surrounds their
loins and slide down in the same way that boys do in winter-time when
the water on some hillside has congealed with the cold, and to prevent
themselves from falling, one arm is wound about a rope, the upper end of
which is fastened to a beam at the mouth of the shaft, and the lower end
to a stake fixed in the bottom of the shaft. In these three ways miners
descend into the shafts. A fourth way may be mentioned which is employed
when men and horses go down to the underground machines and come up
again, that is by inclined shafts which are twisted like a screw and
have steps cut in the rock, as I have already described.

It remains for me to speak of the ailments and accidents of miners, and
of the methods by which they can guard against these, for we should
always devote more care to maintaining our health, that we may freely
perform our bodily functions, than to making profits. Of the illnesses,
some affect the joints, others attack the lungs, some the eyes, and
finally some are fatal to men.

Where water in shafts is abundant and very cold, it frequently injures
the limbs, for cold is harmful to the sinews. To meet this, miners
should make themselves sufficiently high boots of rawhide, which protect
their legs from the cold water; the man who does not follow this advice
will suffer much ill-health, especially when he reaches old age. On the
other hand, some mines are so dry that they are entirely devoid of
water, and this dryness causes the workmen even greater harm, for the
dust which is stirred and beaten up by digging penetrates into the
windpipe and lungs, and produces difficulty in breathing, and the
disease which the Greeks call [Greek: asthma]. If the dust has corrosive
qualities, it eats away the lungs, and implants consumption in the body;
hence in the mines of the Carpathian Mountains women are found who have
married seven husbands, all of whom this terrible consumption has
carried off to a premature death. At Altenberg in Meissen there is found
in the mines black _pompholyx_, which eats wounds and ulcers to the
bone; this also corrodes iron, for which reason the keys of their sheds
are made of wood. Further, there is a certain kind of _cadmia_[21] which
eats away the feet of the workmen when they have become wet, and
similarly their hands, and injures their lungs and eyes. Therefore, for
their digging they should make for themselves not only boots of
rawhide, but gloves long enough to reach to the elbow, and they should
fasten loose veils over their faces; the dust will then neither be drawn
through these into their windpipes and lungs, nor will it fly into their
eyes. Not dissimilarly, among the Romans[22] the makers of vermilion
took precautions against breathing its fatal dust.

Stagnant air, both that which remains in a shaft and that which remains
in a tunnel, produces a difficulty in breathing; the remedies for this
evil are the ventilating machines which I have explained above. There is
another illness even more destructive, which soon brings death to men
who work in those shafts or levels or tunnels in which the hard rock is
broken by fire. Here the air is infected with poison, since large and
small veins and seams in the rocks exhale some subtle poison from the
minerals, which is driven out by the fire, and this poison itself is
raised with the smoke not unlike _pompholyx_,[23] which clings to the
upper part of the walls in the works in which ore is smelted. If this
poison cannot escape from the ground, but falls down into the pools and
floats on their surface, it often causes danger, for if at any time the
water is disturbed through a stone or anything else, these fumes rise
again from the pools and thus overcome the men, by being drawn in with
their breath; this is even much worse if the fumes of the fire have not
yet all escaped. The bodies of living creatures who are infected with
this poison generally swell immediately and lose all movement and
feeling, and they die without pain; men even in the act of climbing from
the shafts by the steps of ladders fall back into the shafts when the
poison overtakes them, because their hands do not perform their office,
and seem to them to be round and spherical, and likewise their feet. If
by good fortune the injured ones escape these evils, for a little while
they are pale and look like dead men. At such times, no one should
descend into the mine or into the neighbouring mines, or if he is in
them he should come out quickly. Prudent and skilled miners burn the
piles of wood on Friday, towards evening, and they do not descend into
the shafts nor enter the tunnels again before Monday, and in the
meantime the poisonous fumes pass away.

There are also times when a reckoning has to be made with Orcus,[24] for
some metalliferous localities, though such are rare, spontaneously
produce poison and exhale pestilential vapour, as is also the case with
some openings in the ore, though these more often contain the noxious
fumes. In the towns of the plains of Bohemia there are some caverns
which, at certain seasons of the year, emit pungent vapours which put
out lights and kill the miners if they linger too long in them. Pliny,
too, has left a record that when wells are sunk, the sulphurous or
aluminous vapours which arise kill the well-diggers, and it is a test of
this danger if a burning lamp which has been let down is extinguished.
In such cases a second well is dug to the right or left, as an
air-shaft, which draws off these noxious vapours. On the plains they
construct bellows which draw up these noxious vapours and remedy this
evil; these I have described before.

Further, sometimes workmen slipping from the ladders into the shafts
break their arms, legs, or necks, or fall into the sumps and are
drowned; often, indeed, the negligence of the foreman is to blame, for
it is his special work both to fix the ladders so firmly to the timbers
that they cannot break away, and to cover so securely with planks the
sumps at the bottom of the shafts, that the planks cannot be moved nor
the men fall into the water; wherefore the foreman must carefully
execute his own work. Moreover, he must not set the entrance of the
shaft-house toward the north wind, lest in winter the ladders freeze
with cold, for when this happens the men's hands become stiff and
slippery with cold, and cannot perform their office of holding. The men,
too, must be careful that, even if none of these things happen, they do
not fall through their own carelessness.

Mountains, too, slide down and men are crushed in their fall and perish.
In fact, when in olden days Rammelsberg, in Goslar, sank down, so many
men were crushed in the ruins that in one day, the records tell us,
about 400 women were robbed of their husbands. And eleven years ago,
part of the mountain of Altenberg, which had been excavated, became
loose and sank, and suddenly crushed six miners; it also swallowed up a
hut and one mother and her little boy. But this generally occurs in
those mountains which contain _venae cumulatae_. Therefore, miners
should leave numerous arches under the mountains which need support, or
provide underpinning. Falling pieces of rock also injure their limbs,
and to prevent this from happening, miners should protect the shafts,
tunnels, and drifts.

The venomous ant which exists in Sardinia is not found in our mines.
This animal is, as Solinus[25] writes, very small and like a spider in
shape; it is called _solifuga_, because it shuns (_fugit_) the light
(_solem_). It is very common in silver mines; it creeps unobserved and
brings destruction upon those who imprudently sit on it. But, as the
same writer tells us, springs of warm and salubrious waters gush out in
certain places, which neutralise the venom inserted by the ants.

In some of our mines, however, though in very few, there are other
pernicious pests. These are demons of ferocious aspect, about which I
have spoken in my book _De Animantibus Subterraneis_. Demons of this
kind are expelled and put to flight by prayer and fasting.[26]

Some of these evils, as well as certain other things, are the reason why
pits are occasionally abandoned. But the first and principal cause is
that they do not yield metal, or if, for some fathoms, they do bear
metal they become barren in depth. The second cause is the quantity of
water which flows in; sometimes the miners can neither divert this water
into the tunnels, since tunnels cannot be driven so far into the
mountains, or they cannot draw it out with machines because the shafts
are too deep; or if they could draw it out with machines, they do not
use them, the reason undoubtedly being that the expenditure is greater
than the profits of a moderately poor vein. The third cause is the
noxious air, which the owners sometimes cannot overcome either by skill
or expenditure, for which reason the digging is sometimes abandoned, not
only of shafts, but also of tunnels. The fourth cause is the poison
produced in particular places, if it is not in our power either
completely to remove it or to moderate its effects. This is the reason
why the caverns in the Plain known as Laurentius[27] used not to be
worked, though they were not deficient in silver. The fifth cause are
the fierce and murderous demons, for if they cannot be expelled, no one
escapes from them. The sixth cause is that the underpinnings become
loosened and collapse, and a fall of the mountain usually follows; the
underpinnings are then only restored when the vein is very rich in
metal. The seventh cause is military operations. Shafts and tunnels
should not be re-opened unless we are quite certain of the reasons why
the miners have deserted them, because we ought not to believe that our
ancestors were so indolent and spiritless as to desert mines which could
have been carried on with profit. Indeed, in our own days, not a few
miners, persuaded by old women's tales, have re-opened deserted shafts
and lost their time and trouble. Therefore, to prevent future
generations from being led to act in such a way, it is advisable to set
down in writing the reason why the digging of each shaft or tunnel has
been abandoned, just as it is agreed was once done at Freiberg, when the
shafts were deserted on account of the great inrush of water.



[1] This Book is devoted in the main to winding, ventilating, and
pumping machinery. Their mechanical principles are very old. The block
and pulley, the windlass, the use of water-wheels, the transmission of
power through shafts and gear-wheels, chain-pumps, piston-pumps with
valves, were all known to the Greeks and Romans, and possibly earlier.
Machines involving these principles were described by Ctesibius, an
Alexandrian of 250 B.C., by Archimedes (287-212 B.C.), and by Vitruvius
(1st Century B.C.) As to how far these machines were applied to mining
by the Ancients we have but little evidence, and this largely in
connection with handling water. Diodorus Siculus (1st Century B.C.)
referring to the Spanish mines, says (Book V.): "Sometimes at great
depths they meet great rivers underground, but by art give check to the
violence of the streams, for by cutting trenches they divert the
current, and being sure to gain what they aim at when they have begun,
they never leave off till they have finished it. And they admirably pump
out the water with those instruments called Egyptian pumps, invented by
Archimedes, the Syracusan, when he was in Egypt. By these, with constant
pumping by turns they throw up the water to the mouth of the pit and
thus drain the mine; for this engine is so ingeniously contrived that a
vast quantity of water is strangely and with little labour cast out."

Strabo (63 B.C.-24 A.D., III., 2, 9), also referring to Spanish mines,
quoting from Posidonius (about 100 B.C.), says: "He compares with these
(the Athenians) the activity and diligence of the Turdetani, who are in
the habit of cutting tortuous and deep tunnels, and draining the streams
which they frequently encounter by means of Egyptian screws."
(Hamilton's Tran., Vol. I., p. 221). The "Egyptian screw" was
Archimedes' screw, and was thus called because much used by the
Egyptians for irrigation. Pliny (XXXIII., 31) also says, in speaking of
the Spanish silver-lead mines: "The mountain has been excavated for a
distance of 1,500 paces, and along this distance there are
water-carriers standing by torch-light night and day steadily baling the
water (thus) making quite a river." The re-opening of the mines at Rio
Tinto in the middle of the 18th Century disclosed old Roman stopes, in
which were found several water-wheels. These were about 15 feet in
diameter, lifting the water by the reverse arrangement to an overshot
water-wheel. A wooden Archimedian screw was also found in the
neighbourhood. (Nash, The Rio Tinto Mine, its History and Romance,
London, 1904).

Until early in the 18th Century, water formed the limiting factor in the
depth of mines. To the great devotion to this water problem we owe the
invention of the steam engine. In 1705 Newcomen--no doubt inspired by
Savery's unsuccessful attempt--invented his engine, and installed the
first one on a colliery at Wolverhampton, in Staffordshire. With its
success, a new era was opened to the miner, to be yet further extended
by Watt's improvements sixty years later. It should be a matter of
satisfaction to mining engineers that not only was the steam engine the
handiwork of their profession, but that another mining engineer,
Stephenson, in his effort to further the advance of his calling,
invented the locomotive.

[2] While these particular tools serve the same purpose as the "gad" and
the "moil," the latter are not fitted with handles, and we have,
therefore, not felt justified in adopting these terms, but have given a
literal rendering of the Latin.

The Latin and old German terms for these tools were:--

  First Iron tool = _Ferramentum primum_    = _Bergeisen_.
  Second   "      =      "      _secundum_  = _Rutzeisen_.
  Third    "      =      "      _tertium_   = _Sumpffeisen_.
  Fourth   "      =      "      _quartum_   = _Fimmel_.
  Wedge           = _Cuneus_                = _Keil_.
  Iron block      = _Lamina_                = _Plôtz_.
  Iron plate      = _Bractea_               = _Feder_.

The German words obviously had local value and do not bear translation

[3] One _metreta_, a Greek measure, equalled about nine English gallons,
and a _congius_ contained about six pints.

[4] _Ingestores_. This is a case of Agricola coining a name for workmen
from the work, the term being derived from _ingero_, to pour or to throw
in, used in the previous clause--hence the "reason." See p. xxxi.

[5] _Cisium_. A two-wheeled cart. In the preface Agricola gives this as
an example of his intended adaptations. See p. xxxi.

[6] _Canis_. The Germans in Agricola's time called a truck a _hundt_--a

[7] _Alveus_,--"Tray." The Spanish term _batea_ has been so generally
adopted into the mining vocabulary for a wooden bowl for these purposes,
that we introduce it here.

[8] Pliny (XXXIII., 21). "The fragments are carried on workmen's
shoulders; night and day each passes the material to his neighbour, only
the last of them seeing the daylight."

[10] _Harpago_,--A "grapple" or "hook."

[11] Ancient Noricum covered the region of modern Tyrol, with parts of
Bavaria, Salzburg, etc.

[12] _Machina quae pilis aquas haurit_. "Machine which draws water with
balls." This apparatus is identical with the Cornish "rag and chain
pump" of the same period, and we have therefore adopted that term.

[13] A _congius_ contained about six pints.

[14] Vitruvius (X., 9). "But if the water is to be supplied to still
higher places, a double chain of iron is made to revolve on the axis of
the wheel, long enough to reach to the lower level. This is furnished
with brazen buckets, each holding about a _congius_. Then by turning the
wheel, the chain also turns upon the axis and brings the buckets to the
top thereof, on passing which they are inverted and pour into the
conduits the water they have raised."

[15] This description certainly does not correspond in every particular
with the illustration.

[16] There is a certain deficiency in the hydraulics of this machine.

[17] The dimensions given in this description for the various members do
not tally.

[18] _Melibocian_,--the Harz.

[19] In the original text this is given as "lower," and appears to be an

[20] Pliny (XXXI, 28). "In deep wells, the occurrence of _sulphurata_ or
_aluminosa_ vapor is fatal to the diggers. The presence of this peril is
shown if a lighted lamp let down into the well is extinguished. If so,
other wells are sunk to the right and left, which carry off these
noxious gases. Apart from these evils, the air itself becomes noxious
with depth, which can be remedied by constantly shaking linen cloths,
thus setting the air in motion."

[21] This is given in the German translation as _kobelt_. The _kobelt_
(or _cobaltum_ of Agricola) was probably arsenical-cobalt, a mineral
common in the Saxon mines. The origin of the application of the word
cobalt to a mineral appears to lie in the German word for the gnomes and
goblins (_kobelts_) so universal to Saxon miners' imaginations,--this
word in turn probably being derived from the Greek _cobali_ (mimes). The
suffering described above seems to have been associated with the
malevolence of demons, and later the word for these demons was attached
to this disagreeable ore. A quaint series of mining "sermons," by Johann
Mathesius, entitled _Sarepta oder Bergpostill_, Nürnberg, 1562, contains
the following passage (p. 154) which bears out this view. We retain the
original and varied spelling of cobalt and also add another view of
Mathesius, involving an experience of Solomon and Hiram of Tyre with
some mines containing cobalt.

"Sometimes, however, from dry hard veins a certain black, greenish, grey
or ash-coloured earth is dug out, often containing good ore, and this
mineral being burnt gives strong fumes and is extracted like 'tutty.' It
is called _cadmia fossilis_. You miners call it _cobelt_. Germans call
the Black Devil and the old Devil's furies, old and black _cobel_, who
injure people and their cattle with their witchcrafts. Now the Devil is
a wicked, malicious spirit, who shoots his poisoned darts into the
hearts of men, as sorcerers and witches shoot at the limbs of cattle and
men, and work much evil and mischief with _cobalt_ or _hipomane_ or
horses' poison. After quicksilver and _rotgültigen_ ore, are _cobalt_
and _wismuth_ fumes; these are the most poisonous of the metals, and
with them one can kill flies, mice, cattle, birds, and men. So, fresh
_cobalt_ and _kisswasser_ (vitriol?) devour the hands and feet of
miners, and the dust and fumes of _cobalt_ kill many mining people and
workpeople who do much work among the fumes of the smelters. Whether or
not the Devil and his hellish crew gave their name to _cobelt_, or
_kobelt_, nevertheless, _cobelt_ is a poisonous and injurious metal even
if it contains silver. I find in I. Kings 9, the word _Cabul_. When
Solomon presented twenty towns in Galilee to the King of Tyre, Hiram
visited them first, and would not have them, and said the land was well
named _Cabul_ as Joshua had christened it. It is certain from Joshua
that these twenty towns lay in the Kingdom of Aser, not far from our
_Sarepta_, and that there had been iron and copper mines there, as Moses
says in another place. Inasmuch, then, as these twenty places were
mining towns, and _cobelt_ is a metal, it appears quite likely that the
mineral took its name from the land of Cabul. History and circumstances
bear out the theory that Hiram was an excellent and experienced miner,
who obtained much gold from Ophir, with which he honoured Solomon.
Therefore, the Great King wished to show his gratitude to his good
neighbour by honouring a miner with mining towns. But because the King
of Tyre was skilled in mines, he first inspected the new mines, and saw
that they only produced poor metal and much wild _cobelt_ ore, therefore
he preferred to find his gold by digging the gold and silver in India
rather than by getting it by the _cobelt_ veins and ore. For truly,
_cobelt_ ores are injurious, and are usually so embedded in other ore
that they rob them in the fire and consume (_madtet und frist_) much
lead before the silver is extracted, and when this happens it is
especially _speysig_. Therefore Hiram made a good reckoning as to the
mines and would not undertake all the expense of working and smelting,
and so returned Solomon the twenty towns."

[22] Pliny (XXXIII, 40). "Those employed in the works preparing
vermilion, cover their faces with a bladder-skin, that they may not
inhale the pernicious powder, yet they can see through the skin."

[23] _Pompholyx_ was a furnace deposit, usually mostly zinc oxide, but
often containing arsenical oxide, and to this latter quality this
reference probably applies. The symptoms mentioned later in the text
amply indicate arsenical poisoning, of which a sort of spherical effect
on the hands is characteristic. See also note on p. 112 for discussion
of "corrosive" _cadmia_; further information on _pompholyx_ is given in
Note 26, p. 394.

[24] Orcus, the god of the infernal regions,--otherwise Pluto.

[25] Caius Julius Solinus was an unreliable Roman Grammarian of the 3rd
Century. There is much difference of opinion as to the precise animal
meant by _solifuga_. The word is variously spelled _solipugus, solpugus,
solipuga, solipunga_, etc., and is mentioned by Pliny (VIII., 43), and
other ancient authors all apparently meaning a venomous insect, either
an ant or a spider. The term in later times indicated a scorpion.

[26] The presence of demons or gnomes in the mines was so general a
belief that Agricola fully accepted it. This is more remarkable, in view
of our author's very general scepticism regarding the supernatural. He,
however, does not classify them all as bad--some being distinctly
helpful. The description of gnomes of kindly intent, which is contained
in the last paragraph in _De Animantibus_ is of interest:--

"Then there are the gentle kind which the Germans as well as the Greeks
call cobalos, because they mimic men. They appear to laugh with glee and
pretend to do much, but really do nothing. They are called little
miners, because of their dwarfish stature, which is about two feet. They
are venerable looking and are clothed like miners in a filleted garment
with a leather apron about their loins. This kind does not often trouble
the miners, but they idle about in the shafts and tunnels and really do
nothing, although they pretend to be busy in all kinds of labour,
sometimes digging ore, and sometimes putting into buckets that which has
been dug. Sometimes they throw pebbles at the workmen, but they rarely
injure them unless the workmen first ridicule or curse them. They are
not very dissimilar to Goblins, which occasionally appear to men when
they go to or from their day's work, or when they attend their cattle.
Because they generally appear benign to men, the Germans call them
_guteli_. Those called _trulli_, which take the form of women as well as
men, actually enter the service of some people, especially the _Suions_.
The mining gnomes are especially active in the workings where metal has
already been found, or where there are hopes of discovering it, because
of which they do not discourage the miners, but on the contrary
stimulate them and cause them to labour more vigorously."

The German miners were not alone in such beliefs, for miners generally
accepted them--even to-day the faith in "knockers" has not entirely
disappeared from Cornwall. Neither the sea nor the forest so lends
itself to the substantiation of the supernatural as does the mine. The
dead darkness, in which the miners' lamps serve only to distort every
shape, the uncanny noises of restless rocks whose support has been
undermined, the approach of danger and death without warning, the sudden
vanishing or discovery of good fortune, all yield a thousand
corroborations to minds long steeped in ignorance and prepared for the
miraculous through religious teaching.

[27] The Plains of Laurentius extend from the mouth of the Tiber
southward--say twenty miles south of Rome. What Agricola's authority was
for silver mines in this region we cannot discover. This may, however,
refer to the lead-silver district of the Attic Peninsula, Laurion being
sometimes Latinized as _Laurium_ or _Laurius_.


Since the Sixth Book has described the iron tools, the vessels and the
machines used in mines, this Book will describe the methods of
assaying[1] ores; because it is desirable to first test them in order
that the material mined may be advantageously smelted, or that the dross
may be purged away and the metal made pure. Although writers have
mentioned such tests, yet none of them have set down the directions for
performing them, wherefore it is no wonder that those who come later
have written nothing on the subject. By tests of this kind miners can
determine with certainty whether ores contain any metal in them or not;
or if it has already been indicated that the ore contains one or more
metals, the tests show whether it is much or little; the miners also
ascertain by such tests the method by which the metal can be separated
from that part of the ore devoid of it; and further, by these tests,
they determine that part in which there is much metal from that part in
which there is little. Unless these tests have been carefully applied
before the metals are melted out, the ore cannot be smelted without
great loss to the owners, for the parts which do not easily melt in the
fire carry the metals off with them or consume them. In the last case,
they pass off with the fumes; in the other case they are mixed with the
slag and furnace accretions, and in such event the owners lose the
labour which they have spent in preparing the furnaces and the
crucibles, and further, it is necessary for them to incur fresh
expenditure for fluxes and other things. Metals, when they have been
melted out, are usually assayed in order that we may ascertain what
proportion of silver is in a _centumpondium_ of copper or lead, or what
quantity of gold is in one _libra_ of silver; and, on the other hand,
what proportion of copper or lead is contained in a _centumpondium_ of
silver, or what quantity of silver is contained in one _libra_ of gold.
And from this we can calculate whether it will be worth while to
separate the precious metals from the base metals, or not. Further, a
test of this kind shows whether coins are good or are debased; and
readily detects silver, if the coiners have mixed more than is lawful
with the gold; or copper, if the coiners have alloyed with the gold or
silver more of it than is allowable. I will explain all these methods
with the utmost care that I can.

The method of assaying ore used by mining people, differs from smelting
only by the small amount of material used. Inasmuch as, by smelting a
small quantity, they learn whether the smelting of a large quantity
will compensate them for their expenditure; hence, if they are not
particular to employ assays, they may, as I have already said, sometimes
smelt the metal from the ore with a loss or sometimes without any
profit; for they can assay the ore at a very small expense, and smelt
it only at a great expense. Both processes, however, are carried out in
the same way, for just as we assay ore in a little furnace, so do we
smelt it in the large furnace. Also in both cases charcoal and not wood
is burned. Moreover, in the crucible when metals are tested, be they
gold, silver, copper, or lead, they are mixed in precisely the same way
as they are mixed in the blast furnace when they are smelted. Further,
those who assay ores with fire, either pour out the metal in a liquid
state, or, when it has cooled, break the crucible and clean the metal
from slag; and in the same way the smelter, as soon as the metal flows
from the furnace into the forehearth, pours in cold water and takes the
slag from the metal with a hooked bar. Finally, in the same way that
gold and silver are separated from lead in a cupel, so also are they
separated in the cupellation furnace.

It is necessary that the assayer who is testing ore or metals should be
prepared and instructed in all things necessary in assaying, and that he
should close the doors of the room in which the assay furnace stands,
lest anyone coming at an inopportune moment might disturb his thoughts
when they are intent on the work. It is also necessary for him to place
his balances in a case, so that when he weighs the little buttons of
metal the scales may not be agitated by a draught of air, for that is a
hindrance to his work.

[Illustration 223a (Muffle Furnace): Round assay furnace.]

[Illustration 223b (Muffle Furnace): Rectangular assay furnace.]

[Illustration 224 (Muffle Assay Furnace): A--Openings in the plate.
B--Part of plate which projects beyond the furnace.]

Now I will describe the different things which are necessary in
assaying, beginning with the assay furnace, of which one differs from
another in shape, material, and the place in which it is set. In shape,
they may be round or rectangular, the latter shape being more suited to
assaying ores. The materials of the assay furnaces differ, in that one
is made of bricks, another of iron, and certain ones of clay. The one of
bricks is built on a chimney-hearth which is three and a half feet high;
the iron one is placed in the same position, and also the one of clay.
The brick one is a cubit high, a foot wide on the inside, and one foot
two digits long; at a point five digits above the hearth--which is
usually the thickness of an unbaked[2] brick--an iron plate is laid, and
smeared over with lute on the upper side to prevent it from being
injured by the fire; in front of the furnace above the plate is a mouth
a palm high, five digits wide, and rounded at the top. The iron plate
has three openings which are one digit wide and three digits long, one
is at each side and the third at the back; through them sometimes the
ash falls from the burning charcoal, and sometimes the draught blows
through the chamber which is below the iron plate, and stimulates the
fire. For this reason this furnace when used by metallurgists is named
from assaying, but when used by the alchemists it is named from the
wind[3]. The part of the iron plate which projects from the furnace is
generally three-quarters of a palm long and a palm wide; small pieces
of charcoal, after being laid thereon, can be placed quickly in the
furnace through its mouth with a pair of tongs, or again, if necessary,
can be taken out of the furnace and laid there.

The iron assay furnace is made of four iron bars a foot and a half high;
which at the bottom are bent outward and broadened a short distance to
enable them to stand more firmly; the front part of the furnace is made
from two of these bars, and the back part from two of them; to these
bars on both sides are joined and welded three iron cross-bars, the
first at a height of a palm from the bottom, the second at a height of a
foot, and the third at the top. The upright bars are perforated at that
point where the side cross-bars are joined to them, in order that three
similar iron bars on the remaining sides can be engaged in them; thus
there are twelve cross-bars, which make three stages at unequal
intervals. At the lower stage, the upright bars are distant from each
other one foot and five digits; and at the middle stage the front is
distant from the back three palms and one digit, and the sides are
distant from each other three palms and as many digits; at the highest
stage from the front to the back there is a distance of two palms, and
between the sides three palms, so that in this way the furnace becomes
narrower at the top. Furthermore, an iron rod, bent to the shape of the
mouth, is set into the lowest bar of the front; this mouth, just like
that of the brick furnace, is a palm high and five digits wide. Then the
front cross-bar of the lower stage is perforated on each side of the
mouth, and likewise the back one; through these perforations there pass
two iron rods, thus making altogether four bars in the lower stage, and
these support an iron plate smeared with lute; part of this plate also
projects outside the furnace. The outside of the furnace from the lower
stage to the upper, is covered with iron plates, which are bound to the
bars by iron wires, and smeared with lute to enable them to bear the
heat of the fire as long as possible.

As for the clay furnace, it must be made of fat, thick clay, medium so
far as relates to its softness or hardness. This furnace has exactly the
same height as the iron one, and its base is made of two earthenware
tiles, one foot and three palms long and one foot and one palm wide.
Each side of the fore part of both tiles is gradually cut away for the
length of a palm, so that they are half a foot and a digit wide, which
part projects from the furnace; the tiles are about a digit and a half
thick. The walls are similarly of clay, and are set on the lower tiles
at a distance of a digit from the edge, and support the upper tiles; the
walls are three digits high and have four openings, each of which is
about three digits high; those of the back part and of each side are
five digits wide, and of the front, a palm and a half wide, to enable
the freshly made cupels to be conveniently placed on the hearth, when it
has been thoroughly warmed, that they may be dried there. Both tiles are
bound on the outer edge with iron wire, pressed into them, so that they
will be less easily broken; and the tiles, not unlike the iron
bed-plate, have three openings three digits long and a digit wide, in
order that when the upper one on account of the heat of the fire or for
some other reason has become damaged, the lower one may be exchanged and
take its place. Through these holes, the ashes from the burning
charcoal, as I have stated, fall down, and air blows into the furnace
after passing through the openings in the walls of the chamber. The
furnace is rectangular, and inside at the lower part it is three palms
and one digit wide and three palms and as many digits long. At the upper
part it is two palms and three digits wide, so that it also grows
narrower; it is one foot high; in the middle of the back it is cut out
at the bottom in the shape of a semicircle, of half a digit radius. Not
unlike the furnace before described, it has in its forepart a mouth
which is rounded at the top, one palm high and a palm and a digit wide.
Its door is also made of clay, and this has a window and a handle; even
the lid of the furnace which is made of clay has its own handle,
fastened on with iron wire. The outer parts and sides of this furnace
are bound with iron wires, which are usually pressed in, in the shape of
triangles. The brick furnaces must remain stationary; the clay and iron
ones can be carried from one place to another. Those of brick can be
prepared more quickly, while those of iron are more lasting, and those
of clay are more suitable. Assayers also make temporary furnaces in
another way; they stand three bricks on a hearth, one on each side and a
third one at the back, the forepart lies open to the draught, and on
these bricks is placed an iron plate, upon which they again stand three
bricks, which hold and retain the charcoal.

The setting of one furnace differs from another, in that some are placed
higher and others lower; that one is placed higher, in which the man who
is assaying the ore or metals introduces the scorifier through the mouth
with the tongs; that one is placed lower, into which he introduces the
crucible through its open top.

[Illustration 227 (Crucible Assay Furnace): A--Iron hoop. B--Double
bellows. C--Its nozzle. D--Lever.]

In some cases the assayer uses an iron hoop[4] in place of a furnace;
this is placed upon the hearth of a chimney, the lower edge being daubed
with lute to prevent the blast of the bellows from escaping under it. If
the blast is given slowly, the ore will be smelted and the copper will
melt in the triangular crucible, which is placed in it and taken away
again with the tongs. The hoop is two palms high and half a digit thick;
its diameter is generally one foot and one palm, and where the blast
from the bellows enters into it, it is notched out. The bellows is a
double one, such as goldworkers use, and sometimes smiths. In the middle
of the bellows there is a board in which there is an air-hole, five
digits wide and seven long, covered by a little flap which is fastened
over the air-hole on the lower side of the board; this flap is of equal
length and width. The bellows, without its head, is three feet long, and
at the back is one foot and one palm wide and somewhat rounded, and it
is three palms wide at the head; the head itself is three palms long and
two palms and a digit wide at the part where it joins the boards, then
it gradually becomes narrower. The nozzle, of which there is only one,
is one foot and two digits long; this nozzle, and one-half of the head
in which the nozzle is fixed, are placed in an opening of the wall, this
being one foot and one palm thick; it reaches only to the iron hoop on
the hearth, for it does not project beyond the wall. The hide of the
bellows is fixed to the bellows-boards with its own peculiar kind of
iron nails. It joins both bellows-boards to the head, and over it there
are cross strips of hide fixed to the bellows-boards with broad-headed
nails, and similarly fixed to the head. The middle board of the bellows
rests on an iron bar, to which it is fastened with iron nails clinched
on both ends, so that it cannot move; the iron bar is fixed between two
upright posts, through which it penetrates. Higher up on these upright
posts there is a wooden axle, with iron journals which revolve in the
holes in the posts. In the middle of this axle there is mortised a
lever, fixed with iron nails to prevent it from flying out; the lever is
five and a half feet long, and its posterior end is engaged in the iron
ring of an iron rod which reaches to the "tail" of the lowest
bellows-board, and there engages another similar ring. And so when the
workman pulls down the lever, the lower part of the bellows is raised
and drives the wind into the nozzle; then the wind, penetrating through
the hole in the middle bellows-board, which is called the air-hole,
lifts up the upper part of the bellows, upon whose upper board is a
piece of lead, heavy enough to press down that part of the bellows
again, and this being pressed down blows a blast through the nozzle.
This is the principle of the double bellows, which is peculiar to the
iron hoop where are placed the triangular crucibles in which copper ore
is smelted and copper is melted.

[Illustration 228 (Muffles): A--Broad little windows of muffle.
B--Narrow ones. C--Openings in the back thereof.]

I have spoken of the furnaces and the iron hoop; I will now speak of the
muffles and the crucibles. The muffle is made of clay, in the shape of
an inverted gutter tile; it covers the scorifiers, lest coal dust fall
into them and interfere with the assay. It is a palm and a half broad,
and the height, which corresponds with the mouth of the furnace, is
generally a palm, and it is nearly as long as the furnace; only at the
front end does it touch the mouth of the furnace, everywhere else on the
sides and at the back there is a space of three digits, to allow the
charcoal to lie in the open space between it and the furnace. The muffle
is as thick as a fairly thick earthen jar; its upper part is entire; the
back has two little windows, and each side has two or three or even
four, through which the heat passes into the scorifiers and melts the
ore. In place of little windows, some muffles have small holes, ten in
the back and more on each side. Moreover, in the back below the little
windows, or small holes, there are cut away three semi-circular notches
half a digit high, and on each side there are four. The back of the
muffle is generally a little lower than the front.

[Illustration 229 (Containers): A--Scorifier. B--Triangular crucible.

The crucibles differ in the materials from which they are made, because
they are made of either clay or ashes; and those of clay, which we also
call "earthen," differ in shape and size. Some are made in the shape of
a moderately thick salver (scorifiers), three digits wide, and of a
capacity of an _uncia_ measure; in these the ore mixed with fluxes is
melted, and they are used by those who assay gold or silver ore. Some
are triangular and much thicker and more capacious, holding five, or
six, or even more _unciae_; in these copper is melted, so that it can be
poured out, expanded, and tested with fire, and in these copper ore is
usually melted.

The cupels are made of ashes; like the preceding scorifiers they are
tray-shaped, and their lower part is very thick but their capacity is
less. In these lead is separated from silver, and by them assays are
concluded. Inasmuch as the assayers themselves make the cupels,
something must be said about the material from which they are made, and
the method of making them. Some make them out of all kinds of ordinary
ashes; these are not good, because ashes of this kind contain a certain
amount of fat, whereby such cupels are easily broken when they are hot.
Others make them likewise out of any kind of ashes which have been
previously leached; of this kind are the ashes into which warm water has
been infused for the purpose of making lye. These ashes, after being
dried in the sun or a furnace, are sifted in a hair sieve; and although
warm water washes away the fat from the ashes, still the cupels which
are made from such ashes are not very good because they often contain
charcoal dust, sand, and pebbles. Some make them in the same way out of
any kind of ashes, but first of all pour water into the ashes and remove
the scum which floats thereon; then, after it has become clear, they
pour away the water, and dry the ashes; they then sift them and make the
cupels from them. These, indeed, are good, but not of the best quality,
because ashes of this kind are also not devoid of small pebbles and
sand. To enable cupels of the best quality to be made, all the
impurities must be removed from the ashes. These impurities are of two
kinds; the one sort light, to which class belong charcoal dust and fatty
material and other things which float in water, the other sort heavy,
such as small stones, fine sand, and any other materials which settle in
the bottom of a vessel. Therefore, first of all, water should be poured
into the ashes and the light impurities removed; then the ashes should
be kneaded with the hands, so that they will become properly mixed with
the water. When the water has become muddy and turbid, it should be
poured into a second vessel. In this way the small stones and fine sand,
or any other heavy substance which may be there, remain in the first
vessel, and should be thrown away. When all the ashes have settled in
this second vessel, which will be shown if the water has become clear
and does not taste of the flavour of lye, the water should be thrown
away, and the ashes which have settled in the vessel should be dried in
the sun or in a furnace. This material is suitable for the cupels,
especially if it is the ash of beech wood or other wood which has a
small annual growth; those ashes made from twigs and limbs of vines,
which have rapid annual growth, are not so good, for the cupels made
from them, since they are not sufficiently dry, frequently crack and
break in the fire and absorb the metals. If ashes of beech or similar
wood are not to be had, the assayer makes little balls of such ashes as
he can get, after they have been cleared of impurities in the manner
before described, and puts them in a baker's or potter's oven to burn,
and from these the cupels are made, because the fire consumes whatever
fat or damp there may be. As to all kinds of ashes, the older they are
the better, for it is necessary that they should have the greatest
possible dryness. For this reason ashes obtained from burned bones,
especially from the bones of the heads of animals, are the most suitable
for cupels, as are also those ashes obtained from the horns of deer and
the spines of fishes. Lastly, some take the ashes which are obtained
from burnt scrapings of leather, when the tanners scrape the hides to
clear them from hair. Some prefer to use compounds, that one being
recommended which has one and a half parts of ashes from the bones of
animals or the spines of fishes, and one part of beech ashes, and half a
part of ashes of burnt hide scrapings. From this mixture good cupels are
made, though far better ones are obtained from equal portions of ashes
of burnt hide scrapings, ashes of the bones of heads of sheep and
calves, and ashes of deer horns. But the best of all are produced from
deer horns alone, burnt to powder; this kind, by reason of its extreme
dryness, absorbs metals least of all. Assayers of our own day, however,
generally make the cupels from beech ashes. These ashes, after being
prepared in the manner just described, are first of all sprinkled with
beer or water, to make them stick together, and are then ground in a
small mortar. They are ground again after being mixed with the ashes
obtained from the skulls of beasts or from the spines of fishes; the
more the ashes are ground the better they are. Some rub bricks and
sprinkle the dust so obtained, after sifting it, into the beech ashes,
for dust of this kind does not allow the hearth-lead to absorb the gold
or silver by eating away the cupels. Others, to guard against the same
thing, moisten the cupels with white of egg after they have been made,
and when they have been dried in the sun, again crush them; especially
if they want to assay in it an ore of copper which contains iron. Some
moisten the ashes again and again with cow's milk, and dry them, and
grind them in a small mortar, and then mould the cupels. In the works in
which silver is separated from copper, they make cupels from two parts
of the ashes of the crucible of the cupellation furnace, for these ashes
are very dry, and from one part of bone-ash. Cupels which have been made
in these ways also need to be placed in the sun or in a furnace;
afterward, in whatever way they have been made, they must be kept a long
time in dry places, for the older they are, the dryer and better they

[Illustration 231 (Cupel Moulds and Pestles): A--Little mould.
B--Inverted mould. C--Pestle. D--Its knob. E--Second pestle.]

Not only potters, but also the assayers themselves, make scorifiers and
triangular crucibles. They make them out of fatty clay, which is dry[5],
and neither hard nor soft. With this clay they mix the dust of old
broken crucibles, or of burnt and worn bricks; then they knead with a
pestle the clay thus mixed with dust, and then dry it. As to these
crucibles, the older they are, the dryer and better they are. The
moulds in which the cupels are moulded are of two kinds, that is, a
smaller size and a larger size. In the smaller ones are made the cupels
in which silver or gold is purged from the lead which has absorbed it;
in the larger ones are made cupels in which silver is separated from
copper and lead. Both moulds are made out of brass and have no bottom,
in order that the cupels can be taken out of them whole. The pestles
also are of two kinds, smaller and larger, each likewise of brass, and
from the lower end of them there projects a round knob, and this alone
is pressed into the mould and makes the hollow part of the cupel. The
part which is next to the knob corresponds to the upper part of the

So much for these matters. I will now speak of the preparation of the
ore for assaying. It is prepared by roasting, burning, crushing, and
washing. It is necessary to take a fixed weight of ore in order that one
may determine how great a portion of it these preparations consume. The
hard stone containing the metal is burned in order that, when its
hardness has been overcome, it can be crushed and washed; indeed, the
very hardest kind, before it is burned, is sprinkled with vinegar, in
order that it may more rapidly soften in the fire. The soft stone should
be broken with a hammer, crushed in a mortar and reduced to powder; then
it should be washed and then dried again. If earth is mixed with the
mineral, it is washed in a basin, and that which settles is assayed in
the fire after it is dried. All mining products which are washed must
again be dried. But ore which is rich in metal is neither burned nor
crushed nor washed, but is roasted, lest that method of preparation
should lose some of the metal. When the fires have been kindled, this
kind of ore is roasted in an enclosed pot, which is stopped up with
lute. A less valuable ore is even burned on a hearth, being placed upon
the charcoal; for we do not make a great expenditure upon metals, if
they are not worth it. However, I will go into fuller details as to all
these methods of preparing ore, both a little later, and in the
following Book.

For the present, I have decided to explain those things which mining
people usually call fluxes[6] because they are added to ores, not only
for assaying, but also for smelting. Great power is discovered in all
these fluxes, but we do not see the same effects produced in every case;
and some are of a very complicated nature. For when they have been mixed
with the ore and are melted in either the assay or the smelting furnace,
some of them, because they melt easily, to some extent melt the ore;
others, because they either make the ore very hot or penetrate into it,
greatly assist the fire in separating the impurities from the metals,
and they also mix the fused part with the lead, or they partly protect
from the fire the ore whose metal contents would be either consumed in
the fire, or carried up with the fumes and fly out of the furnace; some
fluxes absorb the metals. To the first order belongs lead, whether it be
reduced to little granules or resolved into ash by fire, or red-lead[7],
or ochre made from lead[8], or litharge, or hearth-lead, or galena;
also copper, the same either roasted or in leaves or filings[9]; also
the slags of gold, silver, copper, and lead; also soda[10], its slags,
saltpetre, burned alum, vitriol, _sal tostus_, and melted salt[11];
stones which easily melt in hot furnaces, the sand which is made from
them[12]; soft _tophus_[13], and a certain white schist[14]. But lead,
its ashes, red-lead, ochre, and litharge, are more efficacious for ores
which melt easily; hearth-lead for those which melt with difficulty; and
galena for those which melt with greater difficulty. To the second order
belong iron filings, their slag, _sal artificiosus_, argol, dried lees
of vinegar[15], and the lees of the _aqua_ which separates gold from
silver[16]; these lees and _sal artificiosus_ have the power of
penetrating into ore, the argol to a considerable degree, the lees of
vinegar to a greater degree, but most of all those of the _aqua_ which
separates gold from silver; filings and slags of iron, since they melt
more slowly, have the power of heating the ore. To the third order
belong pyrites, the cakes which are melted from them, soda, its slags,
salt, iron, iron scales, iron filings, iron slags, vitriol, the sand
which is resolved from stones which easily melt in the fire, and
_tophus_; but first of all are pyrites and the cakes which are melted
from it, for they absorb the metals of the ore and guard them from the
fire which consumes them. To the fourth order belong lead and copper,
and their relations. And so with regard to fluxes, it is manifest that
some are natural, others fall in the category of slags, and the rest are
purged from slag. When we assay ores, we can without great expense add
to them a small portion of any sort of flux, but when we smelt them we
cannot add a large portion without great expense. We must, therefore,
consider how great the cost is, to avoid incurring a greater expense on
smelting an ore than the profit we make out of the metals which it

The colour of the fumes which the ore emits after being placed on a hot
shovel or an iron plate, indicates what flux is needed in addition to
the lead, for the purpose of either assaying or smelting. If the fumes
have a purple tint, it is best of all, and the ore does not generally
require any flux whatever. If the fumes are blue, there should be added
cakes melted out of pyrites or other cupriferous rock; if yellow,
litharge and sulphur should be added; if red, glass-galls[17] and salt;
if green, then cakes melted from cupriferous stones, litharge, and
glass-galls; if the fumes are black, melted salt or iron slag, litharge
and white lime rock. If they are white, sulphur and iron which is eaten
with rust; if they are white with green patches, iron slag and sand
obtained from stones which easily melt; if the middle part of the fumes
are yellow and thick, but the outer parts green, the same sand and iron
slag. The colour of the fumes not only gives us information as to the
proper remedies which should be applied to each ore, but also more or
less indication as to the solidified juices which are mixed with it, and
which give forth such fumes. Generally, blue fumes signify that the ore
contains azure yellow, orpiment; red, realgar; green, chrysocolla;
black, black bitumen; white, tin[18]; white with green patches, the same
mixed with chrysocolla; the middle part yellow and other parts green
show that it contains sulphur. Earth, however, and other things dug up
which contain metals, sometimes emit similarly coloured fumes.

If the ore contains any _stibium_, then iron slag is added to it; if
pyrites, then are added cakes melted from a cupriferous stone and sand
made from stones which easily melt. If the ore contains iron, then
pyrites and sulphur are added; for just as iron slag is the flux for an
ore mixed with sulphur, so on the contrary, to a gold or silver ore
containing iron, from which they are not easily separated, is added
sulphur and sand made from stones which easily melt.

_Sal artificiosus_[19] suitable for use in assaying ore is made in many
ways. By the first method, equal portions of argol, lees of vinegar, and
urine, are all boiled down together till turned into salt. The second
method is from equal portions of the ashes which wool-dyers use, of
lime, of argol purified, and of melted salt; one _libra_ of each of
these ingredients is thrown into twenty _librae_ of urine; then all are
boiled down to one-third and strained, and afterward there is added to
what remains one _libra_ and four _unciae_ of unmelted salt, eight
pounds of lye being at the same time poured into the pots, with litharge
smeared around on the inside, and the whole is boiled till the salt
becomes thoroughly dry. The third method follows. Unmelted salt, and
iron which is eaten with rust, are put into a vessel, and after urine
has been poured in, it is covered with a lid and put in a warm place for
thirty days; then the iron is washed in the urine and taken out, and the
residue is boiled until it is turned into salt. In the fourth method by
which _sal artificiosus_ is prepared, the lye made from equal portions
of lime and the ashes which wool-dyers use, together with equal portions
of salt, soap, white argol, and saltpetre, are boiled until in the end
the mixture evaporates and becomes salt. This salt is mixed with the
concentrates from washing, to melt them.

Saltpetre is prepared in the following manner, in order that it may be
suitable for use in assaying ore. It is placed in a pot which is smeared
on the inside with litharge, and lye made of quicklime is repeatedly
poured over it, and it is heated until the fire consumes it. Wherefore
the saltpetre does not kindle with the fire, since it has absorbed the
lime which preserves it, and thus it is prepared[20].

The following compositions[21] are recommended to smelt all ores which
the heat of fire breaks up or melts only with difficulty. Of these, one
is made from stones of the third order, which easily melt when thrown
into hot furnaces. They are crushed into pure white powder, and with
half an _uncia_ of this powder there are mixed two _unciae_ of yellow
litharge, likewise crushed. This mixture is put into a scorifier large
enough to hold it, and placed under the muffle of a hot furnace; when
the charge flows like water, which occurs after half an hour, it is
taken out of the furnace and poured on to a stone, and when it has
hardened it has the appearance of glass, and this is likewise crushed.
This powder is sprinkled over any metalliferous ore which does not
easily melt when we are assaying it, and it causes the slag to exude.

Others, in place of litharge, substitute lead ash,[22] which is made in
the following way: sulphur is thrown into lead which has been melted in
a crucible, and it soon becomes covered with a sort of scum; when this
is removed, sulphur is again thrown in, and the skin which forms is
again taken off; this is frequently repeated, in fact until all the lead
is turned into powder. There is a powerful flux compound which is made
from one _uncia_ each of prepared saltpetre, melted salt, glass-gall,
and argol, and one-third of an _uncia_ of litharge and a _bes_ of glass
ground to powder; this flux, being added to an equal weight of ore,
liquefies it. A more powerful flux is made by placing together in a pot,
smeared on the inside with litharge, equal portions of white argol,
common salt, and prepared saltpetre, and these are heated until a white
powder is obtained from them, and this is mixed with as much litharge;
one part of this compound is mixed with two parts of the ore which is to
be assayed. A still more powerful flux than this is made out of ashes of
black lead, saltpetre, orpiment, _stibium_, and dried lees of the _aqua_
with which gold workers separate gold from silver. The ashes of lead[23]
are made from one pound of lead and one pound of sulphur; the lead is
flattened out into sheets by pounding with a hammer, and placed
alternately with sulphur in a crucible or pot, and they are heated
together until the fire consumes the sulphur and the lead turns to
ashes. One _libra_ of crushed saltpetre is mixed with one _libra_ of
orpiment similarly ground to powder, and the two are cooked in an iron
pan until they liquefy; they are then poured out, and after cooling are
again ground to powder. A _libra_ of _stibium_ and a _bes_ of the dried
lees (_of what?_) are placed alternately in a crucible and heated to the
point at which they form a button, which is similarly reduced to powder.
A _bes_ of this powder and one _libra_ of the ashes of lead, as well as
a _libra_ of powder made out of the saltpetre and orpiment, are mixed
together and a powder is made from them, one part of which added to two
parts of ore liquefies it and cleanses it of dross. But the most
powerful flux is one which has two _drachmae_ of sulphur and as much
glass-galls, and half an _uncia_ of each of the following,--_stibium_,
salt obtained from boiled urine, melted common salt, prepared saltpetre,
litharge, vitriol, argol, salt obtained from ashes of musk ivy, dried
lees of the _aqua_ by which gold-workers separate gold from silver, alum
reduced by fire to powder, and one _uncia_ of camphor[24] combined with
sulphur and ground into powder. A half or whole portion of this mixture,
as the necessity of the case requires, is mixed with one portion of the
ore and two portions of lead, and put in a scorifier; it is sprinkled
with powder of crushed Venetian glass, and when the mixture has been
heated for an hour and a half or two hours, a button will settle in the
bottom of the scorifier, and from it the lead is soon separated.

There is also a flux which separates sulphur, orpiment and realgar from
metalliferous ore. This flux is composed of equal portions of iron slag,
white _tophus_, and salt. After these juices have been secreted, the
ores themselves are melted, with argol added to them. There is one flux
which preserves _stibium_ from the fire, that the fire may not consume
it, and which preserves the metals from the _stibium_; and this is
composed of equal portions of sulphur, prepared saltpetre, melted salt,
and vitriol, heated together in lye until no odour emanates from the
sulphur, which occurs after a space of three or four hours.[25]

It is also worth while to substitute certain other mixtures. Take two
portions of ore properly prepared, one portion of iron filings, and
likewise one portion of salt, and mix; then put them into a scorifier
and place them in a muffle furnace; when they are reduced by the fire
and run together, a button will settle in the bottom of the scorifier.
Or else take equal portions of ore and of lead ochre, and mix with them
a small quantity of iron filings, and put them into a scorifier, then
scatter iron filings over the mixture. Or else take ore which has been
ground to powder and sprinkle it in a crucible, and then sprinkle over
it an equal quantity of salt that has been three or four times moistened
with urine and dried; then, again and again alternately, powdered ore
and salt; next, after the crucible has been covered with a lid and
sealed, it is placed upon burning charcoal. Or else take one portion of
ore, one portion of minute lead granules, half a portion of Venetian
glass, and the same quantity of glass-galls. Or else take one portion of
ore, one portion of lead granules, half a portion of salt, one-fourth of
a portion of argol, and the same quantity of lees of the _aqua_ which
separates gold from silver. Or else take equal portions of prepared ore
and a powder in which there are equal portions of very minute lead
granules, melted salt, _stibium_ and iron slag. Or else take equal
portions of gold ore, vitriol, argol, and of salt. So much for the

In the assay furnace, when it has been prepared in the way in which I
have described, is first placed a muffle. Then selected pieces of live
charcoals are laid on it, for, from pieces of inferior quality, a great
quantity of ash collects around the muffle and hinders the action of the
fire. Then the scorifiers are placed under the muffle with tongs, and
glowing coals are placed under the fore part of the muffle to warm the
scorifiers more quickly; and when the lead or ore is to be placed in the
scorifiers, they are taken out again with the tongs. When the scorifiers
glow in the heat, first of all the ash or small charcoals, if any have
fallen into them, should be blown away with an iron pipe two feet long
and a digit in diameter; this same thing must be done if ash or small
coal has fallen into the cupels. Next, put in a small ball of lead with
the tongs, and when this lead has begun to be turned into fumes and
consumed, add to it the prepared ore wrapped in paper. It is preferable
that the assayer should wrap it in paper, and in this way put it in the
scorifier, than that he should drop it in with a copper ladle; for when
the scorifiers are small, if he uses a ladle he frequently spills some
part of the ore. When the paper is burnt, he stirs the ore with a small
charcoal held in the tongs, so that the lead may absorb the metal which
is mixed in the ore; when this mixture has taken place, the slag partly
adheres by its circumference to the scorifier and makes a kind of black
ring, and partly floats on the lead in which is mixed the gold or
silver; then the slag must be removed from it.

The lead used must be entirely free from every trace of silver, as is
that which is known as _Villacense_.[26] But if this kind is not
obtainable, the lead must be assayed separately, to determine with
certainty that proportion of silver it contains, so that it may be
deducted from the calculation of the ore, and the result be exact; for
unless such lead be used, the assay will be false and misleading. The
lead balls are made with a pair of iron tongs, about one foot long; its
iron claws are so formed that when pressed together they are egg-shaped;
each claw contains a hollow cup, and when the claws are closed there
extends upward from the cup a passage, so there are two openings, one of
which leads to each hollow cup. And so when the molten lead is poured in
through the openings, it flows down into the hollow cup, and two balls
are formed by one pouring.

In this place I ought not to omit mention of another method of assaying
employed by some assayers. They first of all place prepared ore in the
scorifiers and heat it, and afterward they add the lead. Of this method
I cannot approve, for in this way the ore frequently becomes cemented,
and for this reason it does not stir easily afterward, and is very slow
in mixing with the lead.

[Illustration 240a (Tongs): A--Claws of the tongs. B--Iron, giving form
of an egg. C--Opening.]

If the whole space of the furnace covered by the muffle is not filled
with scorifiers, cupels are put in the empty space, in order that they
may become warmed in the meantime. Sometimes, however, it is filled with
scorifiers, when we are assaying many different ores, or many portions
of one ore at the same time. Although the cupels are usually dried in
one hour, yet smaller ones are done more quickly, and the larger ones
more slowly. Unless the cupels are heated before the metal mixed with
lead is placed in them, they frequently break, and the lead always
sputters and sometimes leaps out of them; if the cupel is broken or the
lead leaps out of it, it is necessary to assay another portion of ore;
but if the lead only sputters, then the cupels should be covered with
broad thin pieces of glowing charcoal, and when the lead strikes these,
it falls back again, and thus the mixture is slowly exhaled. Further, if
in the cupellation the lead which is in the mixture is not consumed, but
remains fixed and set, and is covered by a kind of skin, this is a sign
that it has not been heated by a sufficiently hot fire; put into the
mixture, therefore, a dry pine stick, or a twig of a similar tree, and
hold it in the hand in order that it can be drawn away when it has been
heated. Then take care that the heat is sufficient and equal; if the
heat has not passed all round the charge, as it should when everything
is done rightly, but causes it to have a lengthened shape, so that it
appears to have a tail, this is a sign that the heat is deficient where
the tail lies. Then in order that the cupel may be equally heated by the
fire, turn it around with a small iron hook, whose handle is likewise
made of iron and is a foot and a half long.

[Illustration 240b (Hook): Small iron hook.]

Next, if the mixture has not enough lead, add as much of it as is
required with the iron tongs, or with the brass ladle to which is
fastened a very long handle. In order that the charge may not be cooled,
warm the lead beforehand. But it is better at first to add as much lead
as is required to the ore which needs melting, rather than afterward
when the melting has been half finished, that the whole quantity may not
vanish in fumes, but part of it remain fast. When the heat of the fire
has nearly consumed the lead, then is the time when the gold and silver
gleam in their varied colours, and when all the lead has been consumed
the gold or silver settles in the cupel. Then as soon as possible remove
the cupel out of the furnace, and take the button out of it while it is
still warm, in order that it does not adhere to the ashes. This
generally happens if the button is already cold when it is taken out. If
the ashes do adhere to it, do not scrape it with a knife, lest some of
it be lost and the assay be erroneous, but squeeze it with the iron
tongs, so that the ashes drop off through the pressure. Finally, it is
of advantage to make two or three assays of the same ore at the same
time, in order that if by chance one is not successful, the second, or
in any event the third, may be certain.

[Illustration 241 (Shield for Muffle Furnace): A--Handle of tablet.
B--Its crack.]

While the assayer is assaying the ore, in order to prevent the great
heat of the fire from injuring his eyes, it will be useful for him
always to have ready a thin wooden tablet, two palms wide, with a handle
by which it may be held, and with a slit down the middle in order that
he may look through it as through a crack, since it is necessary for him
to look frequently within and carefully to consider everything.

Now the lead which has absorbed the silver from a metallic ore is
consumed in the cupel by the heat in the space of three quarters of an
hour. When the assays are completed the muffle is taken out of the
furnace, and the ashes removed with an iron shovel, not only from the
brick and iron furnaces, but also from the earthen one, so that the
furnace need not be removed from its foundation.

From ore placed in the triangular crucible a button is melted out, from
which metal is afterward made. First of all, glowing charcoal is put
into the iron hoop, then is put in the triangular crucible, which
contains the ore together with those things which can liquefy it and
purge it of its dross; then the fire is blown with the double bellows,
and the ore is heated until the button settles in the bottom of the
crucible. We have explained that there are two methods of assaying
ore,--one, by which the lead is mixed with ore in the scorifier and
afterward again separated from it in the cupel; the other, by which it
is first melted in the triangular earthen crucible and afterward mixed
with lead in the scorifier, and later separated from it in the cupel.
Now let us consider which is more suitable for each ore, or, if neither
is suitable, by what other method in one way or another we can assay it.

We justly begin with a gold ore, which we assay by both methods, for if
it is rich and seems not to be strongly resistant to fire, but to
liquefy easily, one _centumpondium_ of it (known to us as the lesser
weights),[27] together with one and a half, or two _unciae_ of lead of
the larger weights, are mixed together and placed in the scorifier, and
the two are heated in the fire until they are well mixed. But since such
an ore sometimes resists melting, add a little salt to it, either _sal
torrefactus_ or _sal artificiosus_, for this will subdue it, and prevent
the alloy from collecting much dross; stir it frequently with an iron
rod, in order that the lead may flow around the gold on every side, and
absorb it and cast out the waste. When this has been done, take out the
alloy and cleanse it of slag; then place it in the cupel and heat it
until it exhales all the lead, and a bead of gold settles in the bottom.

If the gold ore is seen not to be easily melted in the fire, roast it
and extinguish it with brine. Do this again and again, for the more
often you roast it and extinguish it, the more easily the ore can be
crushed fine, and the more quickly does it melt in the fire and give up
whatever dross it possesses. Mix one part of this ore, when it has been
roasted, crushed, and washed, with three parts of some powder compound
which melts ore, and six parts of lead. Put the charge into the
triangular crucible, place it in the iron hoop to which the double
bellows reaches, and heat first in a slow fire, and afterward gradually
in a fiercer fire, till it melts and flows like water. If the ore does
not melt, add to it a little more of these fluxes, mixed with an equal
portion of yellow litharge, and stir it with a hot iron rod until it all
melts. Then take the crucible out of the hoop, shake off the button when
it has cooled, and when it has been cleansed, melt first in the
scorifier and afterward in the cupel. Finally, rub the gold which has
settled in the bottom of the cupel, after it has been taken out and
cooled, on the touchstone, in order to find out what proportion of
silver it contains. Another method is to put a _centumpondium_ (of the
lesser weights) of gold ore into the triangular crucible, and add to it
a _drachma_ (of the larger weights) of glass-galls. If it resists
melting, add half a _drachma_ of roasted argol, and if even then it
resists, add the same quantity of roasted lees of vinegar, or lees of
the _aqua_ which separates gold from silver, and the button will settle
in the bottom of the crucible. Melt this button again in the scorifier
and a third time in the cupel.

We determine in the following way, before it is melted in the muffle
furnace, whether pyrites contains gold in it or not: if, after being
three times roasted and three times quenched in sharp vinegar, it has
not broken nor changed its colour, there is gold in it. The vinegar by
which it is quenched should be mixed with salt that is put in it, and
frequently stirred and dissolved for three days. Nor is pyrites devoid
of gold, when, after being roasted and then rubbed on the touchstone, it
colours the touchstone in the same way that it coloured it when rubbed
in its crude state. Nor is gold lacking in that, whose concentrates from
washing, when heated in the fire, easily melt, giving forth little smell
and remaining bright; such concentrates are heated in the fire in a
hollowed piece of charcoal covered over with another charcoal.

We also assay gold ore without fire, but more often its sand or the
concentrates which have been made by washing, or the dust gathered up by
some other means. A little of it is slightly moistened with water and
heated until it begins to exhale an odour, and then to one portion of
ore are placed two portions of quicksilver[28] in a wooden dish as deep
as a basin. They are mixed together with a little brine, and are then
ground with a wooden pestle for the space of two hours, until the
mixture becomes of the thickness of dough, and the quicksilver can no
longer be distinguished from the concentrates made by the washing, nor
the concentrates from the quicksilver. Warm, or at least tepid, water is
poured into the dish and the material is washed until the water runs out
clear. Afterward cold water is poured into the same dish, and soon the
quicksilver, which has absorbed all the gold, runs together into a
separate place away from the rest of the concentrates made by washing.
The quicksilver is afterward separated from the gold by means of a pot
covered with soft leather, or with canvas made of woven threads of
cotton; the amalgam is poured into the middle of the cloth or leather,
which sags about one hand's breadth; next, the leather is folded over
and tied with a waxed string, and the dish catches the quicksilver which
is squeezed through it. As for the gold which remains in the leather, it
is placed in a scorifier and purified by being placed near glowing
coals. Others do not wash away the dirt with warm water, but with strong
lye and vinegar, for they pour these liquids into the pot, and also
throw into it the quicksilver mixed with the concentrates made by
washing. Then they set the pot in a warm place, and after twenty-four
hours pour out the liquids with the dirt, and separate the quicksilver
from the gold in the manner which I have described. Then they pour urine
into a jar set in the ground, and in the jar place a pot with holes in
the bottom, and in the pot they place the gold; then the lid is put on
and cemented, and it is joined with the jar; they afterward heat it till
the pot glows red. After it has cooled, if there is copper in the gold
they melt it with lead in a cupel, that the copper may be separated from
it; but if there is silver in the gold they separate them by means of
the _aqua_ which has the power of parting these two metals. There are
some who, when they separate gold from quicksilver, do not pour the
amalgam into a leather, but put it into a gourd-shaped earthen vessel,
which they place in the furnace and heat gradually over burning
charcoal; next, with an iron plate, they cover the opening of the
operculum, which exudes vapour, and as soon as it has ceased to exude,
they smear it with lute and heat it for a short time; then they remove
the operculum from the pot, and wipe off the quicksilver which adheres
to it with a hare's foot, and preserve it for future use. By the latter
method, a greater quantity of quicksilver is lost, and by the former
method, a smaller quantity.

If an ore is rich in silver, as is _rudis_ silver[29], frequently silver
glance, or rarely ruby silver, gray silver, black silver, brown silver,
or yellow silver, as soon as it is cleansed and heated, a
_centumpondium_ (of the lesser weights) of it is placed in an _uncia_ of
molten lead in a cupel, and is heated until the lead exhales. But if the
ore is of poor or moderate quality, it must first be dried, then
crushed, and then to a _centumpondium_ (of the lesser weights) an
_uncia_ of lead is added, and it is heated in the scorifier until it
melts. If it is not soon melted by the fire, it should be sprinkled with
a little powder of the first order of fluxes, and if then it does not
melt, more is added little by little until it melts and exudes its slag;
that this result may be reached sooner, the powder which has been
sprinkled over it should be stirred in with an iron rod. When the
scorifier has been taken out of the assay furnace, the alloy should be
poured into a hole in a baked brick; and when it has cooled and been
cleansed of the slag, it should be placed in a cupel and heated until it
exhales all its lead; the weight of silver which remains in the cupel
indicates what proportion of silver is contained in the ore.

We assay copper ore without lead, for if it is melted with it, the
copper usually exhales and is lost. Therefore, a certain weight of such
an ore is first roasted in a hot fire for about six or eight hours;
next, when it has cooled, it is crushed and washed; then the
concentrates made by washing are again roasted, crushed, washed, dried,
and weighed. The portion which it has lost whilst it is being roasted
and washed is taken into account, and these concentrates by washing
represent the cake which will be melted out of the copper ore. Place
three _centumpondia_ (lesser weights) of this, mixed with three
_centumpondia_ (lesser weights) each of copper scales[30], saltpetre,
and Venetian glass, mixed, into the triangular crucible, and place it in
the iron hoop which is set on the hearth in front of the double bellows.
Cover the crucible with charcoal in such a way that nothing may fall
into the ore which is to be melted, and so that it may melt more
quickly. At first blow a gentle blast with the bellows in order that the
ore may be heated gradually in the fire; then blow strongly till it
melts, and the fire consumes that which has been added to it, and the
ore itself exudes whatever slag it possesses. Next, cool the crucible
which has been taken out, and when this is broken you will find the
copper; weigh this, in order to ascertain how great a portion of the ore
the fire has consumed. Some ore is only once roasted, crushed, and
washed; and of this kind of concentrates, three _centumpondia_ (lesser
weights) are taken with one _centumpondium_ each of common salt, argol
and glass-galls. Heat them in the triangular crucible, and when the
mixture has cooled a button of pure copper will be found, if the ore is
rich in this metal. If, however, it is less rich, a stony lump results,
with which the copper is intermixed; this lump is again roasted,
crushed, and, after adding stones which easily melt and saltpetre, it is
again melted in another crucible, and there settles in the bottom of the
crucible a button of pure copper. If you wish to know what proportion of
silver is in this copper button, melt it in a cupel after adding lead.
With regard to this test I will speak later.

Those who wish to know quickly what portion of silver the copper ore
contains, roast the ore, crush and wash it, then mix a little yellow
litharge with one _centumpondium_ (lesser weights) of the concentrates,
and put the mixture into a scorifier, which they place under the muffle
in a hot furnace for the space of half an hour. When the slag exudes, by
reason of the melting force which is in the litharge, they take the
scorifier out; when it has cooled, they cleanse it of slag and again
crush it, and with one _centumpondium_ of it they mix one and a half
_unciae_ of lead granules. They then put it into another scorifier,
which they place under the muffle in a hot furnace, adding to the
mixture a little of the powder of some one of the fluxes which cause ore
to melt; when it has melted they take it out, and after it has cooled,
cleanse it of slag; lastly, they heat it in the cupel till it has
exhaled all of the lead, and only silver remains.

Lead ore may be assayed by this method: crush half an _uncia_ of pure
lead-stone and the same quantity of the _chrysocolla_ which they call
borax, mix them together, place them in a crucible, and put a glowing
coal in the middle of it. As soon as the borax crackles and the
lead-stone melts, which soon occurs, remove the coal from the crucible,
and the lead will settle to the bottom of it; weigh it out, and take
account of that portion of it which the fire has consumed. If you also
wish to know what portion of silver is contained in the lead, melt the
lead in the cupel until all of it exhales.

Another way is to roast the lead ore, of whatsoever quality it be, wash
it, and put into the crucible one _centumpondium_ of the concentrates,
together with three _centumpondia_ of the powdered compound which melts
ore, mixed together, and place it in the iron hoop that it may melt;
when it has cooled, cleanse it of its slag, and complete the test as I
have already said. Another way is to take two _unciae_ of prepared ore,
five _drachmae_ of roasted copper, one _uncia_ of glass, or glass-galls
reduced to powder, a _semi-uncia_ of salt, and mix them. Put the mixture
into the triangular crucible, and heat it over a gentle fire to prevent
it from breaking; when the mixture has melted, blow the fire vigorously
with the bellows; then take the crucible off the live coals and let it
cool in the open air; do not pour water on it, lest the lead button
being acted upon by the excessive cold should become mixed with the
slag, and the assay in this way be erroneous. When the crucible has
cooled, you will find in the bottom of it the lead button. Another way
is to take two _unciae_ of ore, a _semi-uncia_ of litharge, two
_drachmae_ of Venetian glass and a _semi-uncia_ of saltpetre. If there
is difficulty in melting the ore, add to it iron filings, which, since
they increase the heat, easily separate the waste from lead and other
metals. By the last way, lead ore properly prepared is placed in the
crucible, and there is added to it only the sand made from stones which
easily melt, or iron filings, and then the assay is completed as

You can assay tin ore by the following method. First roast it, then
crush, and afterward wash it; the concentrates are again roasted,
crushed, and washed. Mix one and a half _centumpondia_ of this with one
_centumpondium_ of the _chrysocolla_ which they call borax; from the
mixture, when it has been moistened with water, make a lump. Afterwards,
perforate a large round piece of charcoal, making this opening a palm
deep, three digits wide on the upper side and narrower on the lower
side; when the charcoal is put in its place the latter should be on the
bottom and the former uppermost. Let it be placed in a crucible, and let
glowing coal be put round it on all sides; when the perforated piece of
coal begins to burn, the lump is placed in the upper part of the
opening, and it is covered with a wide piece of glowing coal, and after
many pieces of coal have been put round it, a hot fire is blown up with
the bellows, until all the tin has run out of the lower opening of the
charcoal into the crucible. Another way is to take a large piece of
charcoal, hollow it out, and smear it with lute, that the ore may not
leap out when white hot. Next, make a small hole through the middle of
it, then fill up the large opening with small charcoal, and put the ore
upon this; put fire in the small hole and blow the fire with the nozzle
of a hand bellows; place the piece of charcoal in a small crucible,
smeared with lute, in which, when the melting is finished, you will find
a button of tin.

In assaying bismuth ore, place pieces of ore in the scorifier, and put
it under the muffle in a hot furnace; as soon as they are heated, they
drip with bismuth, which runs together into a button.

Quicksilver ore is usually tested by mixing one part of broken ore with
three-parts of charcoal dust and a handful of salt. Put the mixture into
a crucible or a pot or a jar, cover it with a lid, seal it with lute,
place it on glowing charcoal, and as soon as a burnt cinnabar colour
shows in it, take out the vessel; for if you continue the heat too long
the mixture exhales the quicksilver with the fumes. The quicksilver
itself, when it has become cool, is found in the bottom of the crucible
or other vessel. Another way is to place broken ore in a gourd-shaped
earthen vessel, put it in the assay furnace, and cover with an operculum
which has a long spout; under the spout, put an ampulla to receive the
quicksilver which distills. Cold water should be poured into the
ampulla, so that the quicksilver which has been heated by the fire may
be continuously cooled and gathered together, for the quicksilver is
borne over by the force of the fire, and flows down through the spout of
the operculum into the ampulla. We also assay quicksilver ore in the
very same way in which we smelt it. This I will explain in its proper

Lastly, we assay iron ore in the forge of a blacksmith. Such ore is
burned, crushed, washed, and dried; a magnet is laid over the
concentrates, and the particles of iron are attracted to it; these are
wiped off with a brush, and are caught in a crucible, the magnet being
continually passed over the concentrates and the particles wiped off, so
long as there remain any particles which the magnet can attract to it.
These particles are heated in the crucible with saltpetre until they
melt, and an iron button is melted out of them. If the magnet easily and
quickly attracts the particles to it, we infer that the ore is rich in
iron; if slowly, that it is poor; if it appears actually to repel the
ore, then it contains little or no iron. This is enough for the assaying
of ores.

I will now speak of the assaying of the metal alloys. This is done both
by coiners and merchants who buy and sell metal, and by miners, but most
of all by the owners and mine masters, and by the owners and masters of
the works in which the metals are smelted, or in which one metal is
parted from another.

First I will describe the way assays are usually made to ascertain what
portion of precious metal is contained in base metal. Gold and silver
are now reckoned as precious metals and all the others as base metals.
Once upon a time the base metals were burned up, in order that the
precious metals should be left pure; the Ancients even discovered by
such burning what portion of gold was contained in silver, and in this
way all the silver was consumed, which was no small loss. However, the
famous mathematician, Archimedes[31], to gratify King Hiero, invented a
method of testing the silver, which was not very rapid, and was more
accurate for testing a large mass than a small one. This I will explain
in my commentaries. The alchemists have shown us a way of separating
silver from gold by which neither of them is lost[32].

Gold which contains silver,[33] or silver which contains gold, is first
rubbed on the touchstone. Then a needle in which there is a similar
amount of gold or silver is rubbed on the same touchstone, and from the
lines which are produced in this way, is perceived what portion of
silver there is in the gold, or what portion of gold there is in the
silver. Next there is added to the silver which is in the gold, enough
silver to make it three times as much as the gold. Then lead is placed
in a cupel and melted; a little later, a small amount of copper is put
in it, in fact, half an _uncia_ of it, or half an _uncia_ and a
_sicilicus_ (of the smaller weights) if the gold or silver does not
contain any copper. The cupel, when the lead and copper are wanting,
attracts the particles of gold and silver, and absorbs them. Finally,
one-third of a _libra_ of the gold, and one _libra_[34] of the silver
must be placed together in the same cupel and melted; for if the gold
and silver were first placed in the cupel and melted, as I have already
said, it absorbs particles of them, and the gold, when separated from
the silver, will not be found pure. These metals are heated until the
lead and the copper are consumed, and again, the same weight of each is
melted in the same manner in another cupel. The buttons are pounded with
a hammer and flattened out, and each little leaf is shaped in the form
of a tube, and each is put into a small glass ampulla. Over these there
is poured one _uncia_ and one _drachma_ (of the large weight) of the
third quality _aqua valens_, which I will describe in the Tenth Book.
This is heated over a slow fire, and small bubbles, resembling pearls in
shape, will be seen to adhere to the tubes. The redder the _aqua_
appears, the better it is judged to be; when the redness has vanished,
small white bubbles are seen to be resting on the tubes, resembling
pearls not only in shape, but also in colour. After a short time the
_aqua_ is poured off and other is poured on; when this has again raised
six or eight small white bubbles, it is poured off and the tubes are
taken out and washed four or five times with spring water; or if they
are heated with the same water, when it is boiling, they will shine more
brilliantly. Then they are placed in a saucer, which is held in the hand
and gradually dried by the gentle heat of the fire; afterward the saucer
is placed over glowing charcoal and covered with a charcoal, and a
moderate blast is blown upon it with the mouth and then a blue flame
will be emitted. In the end the tubes are weighed, and if their weights
prove equal, he who has undertaken this work has not laboured in vain.
Lastly, both are placed in another balance-pan and weighed; of each tube
four grains must not be counted, on account of the silver which remains
in the gold and cannot be separated from it. From the weight of the
tubes we learn the weight both of the gold and of the silver which is in
the button. If some assayer has omitted to add so much silver to the
gold as to make it three times the quantity, but only double, or two and
a half times as much, he will require the stronger quality of _aqua_
which separates gold from silver, such as the fourth quality. Whether
the _aqua_ which he employs for gold and silver is suitable for the
purpose, or whether it is more or less strong than is right, is
recognised by its effect. That of medium strength raises the little
bubbles on the tubes and is found to colour the ampulla and the
operculum a strong red; the weaker one is found to colour them a light
red, and the stronger one to break the tubes. To pure silver in which
there is some portion of gold, nothing should be added when they are
being heated in the cupel prior to their being parted, except a _bes_ of
lead and one-fourth or one-third its amount of copper of the lesser
weights. If the silver contains in itself a certain amount of copper,
let it be weighed, both after it has been melted with the lead, and
after the gold has been parted from it; by the former we learn how much
copper is in it, by the latter how much gold. Base metals are burnt up
even to-day for the purpose of assay, because to lose so little of the
metal is small loss, but from a large mass of base metal, the precious
metal is always extracted, as I will explain in Books X. and XI.

We assay an alloy of copper and silver in the following way. From a few
cakes of copper the assayer cuts out portions, small samples from small
cakes, medium samples from medium cakes, and large samples from large
cakes; the small ones are equal in size to half a hazel nut, the large
ones do not exceed the size of half a chestnut, and those of medium size
come between the two. He cuts out the samples from the middle of the
bottom of each cake. He places the samples in a new, clean, triangular
crucible and fixes to them pieces of paper upon which are written the
weight of the cakes of copper, of whatever size they may be; for
example, he writes, "These samples have been cut from copper which
weighs twenty _centumpondia_." When he wishes to know how much silver
one _centumpondium_ of copper of this kind has in it, first of all he
throws glowing coals into the iron hoop, then adds charcoal to it. When
the fire has become hot, the paper is taken out of the crucible and put
aside, he then sets that crucible on the fire and gradually heats it for
a quarter of an hour until it becomes red hot. Then he stimulates the
fire by blowing with a blast from the double bellows for half an hour,
because copper which is devoid of lead requires this time to become hot
and to melt; copper not devoid of lead melts quicker. When he has blown
the bellows for about the space of time stated, he removes the glowing
charcoal with the tongs, and stirs the copper with a splinter of wood,
which he grasps with the tongs. If it does not stir easily, it is a sign
that the copper is not wholly liquefied; if he finds this is the case,
he again places a large piece of charcoal in the crucible, and replaces
the glowing charcoal which had been removed, and again blows the bellows
for a short time. When all the copper has melted he stops using the
bellows, for if he were to continue to use them, the fire would consume
part of the copper, and then that which remained would be richer than
the cake from which it had been cut; this is no small mistake.
Therefore, as soon as the copper has become sufficiently liquefied, he
pours it out into a little iron mould, which may be large or small,
according as more or less copper is melted in the crucible for the
purpose of the assay. The mould has a handle, likewise made of iron, by
which it is held when the copper is poured in, after which, he plunges
it into a tub of water placed near at hand, that the copper may be
cooled. Then he again dries the copper by the fire, and cuts off its
point with an iron wedge; the portion nearest the point he hammers on an
anvil and makes into a leaf, which he cuts into pieces.

[Illustration 250 (Copper Mould for Assaying): A--Iron mould. B--Its

Others stir the molten copper with a stick of linden tree charcoal, and
then pour it over a bundle of new clean birch twigs, beneath which is
placed a wooden tub of sufficient size and full of water, and in this
manner the copper is broken up into little granules as small as hemp
seeds. Others employ straw in place of twigs. Others place a broad stone
in a tub and pour in enough water to cover the stone, then they run out
the molten copper from the crucible on to the stone, from which the
minute granules roll off; others pour the molten copper into water and
stir it until it is resolved into granules. The fire does not easily
melt the copper in the cupel unless it has been poured and a thin leaf
made of it, or unless it has been resolved into granules or made into
filings; and if it does not melt, all the labour has been undertaken in
vain. In order that they may be accurately weighed out, silver and lead
are resolved into granules in the same manner as copper. But to return
to the assay of copper. When the copper has been prepared by these
methods, if it is free of lead and iron, and rich in silver, to each
_centumpondium_ (lesser weights) add one and a half _unciae_ of lead
(larger weights). If, however, the copper contains some lead, add one
_uncia_ of lead; if it contains iron, add two _unciae_. First put the
lead into a cupel, and after it begins to smoke, add the copper; the
fire generally consumes the copper, together with the lead, in about one
hour and a quarter. When this is done, the silver will be found in the
bottom of the cupel. The fire consumes both of those metals more quickly
if they are heated in that furnace which draws in air. It is better to
cover the upper half of it with a lid, and not only to put on the muffle
door, but also to close the window of the muffle door with a piece of
charcoal, or with a piece of brick. If the copper be such that the
silver can only be separated from it with difficulty, then before it is
tested with fire in the cupel, lead should first be put into the
scorifier, and then the copper should be added with a moderate quantity
of melted salt, both that the lead may absorb the copper and that the
copper may be cleansed of the dross which abounds in it.

Tin which contains silver should not at the beginning of the assay be
placed in a cupel, lest the silver, as often happens, be consumed and
converted into fumes, together with the tin. As soon as the lead[35] has
begun to fume in the scorifier, then add that[36] to it. In this way the
lead will take the silver and the tin will boil and turn into ashes,
which may be removed with a wooden splinter. The same thing occurs if
any alloy is melted in which there is tin. When the lead has absorbed
the silver which was in the tin, then, and not till then, it is heated
in the cupel. First place the lead with which the silver is mixed, in an
iron pan, and stand it on a hot furnace and let it melt; afterward pour
this lead into a small iron mould, and then beat it out with a hammer on
an anvil and make it into leaves in the same way as the copper. Lastly,
place it in the cupel, which assay can be carried out in the space of
half an hour. A great heat is harmful to it, for which reason there is
no necessity either to cover the half of the furnace with a lid or to
close up its mouth.

The minted metal alloys, which are known as money, are assayed in the
following way. The smaller silver coins which have been picked out from
the bottom and top and sides of a heap are first carefully cleansed;
then, after they have been melted in the triangular crucible, they are
either resolved into granules, or made into thin leaves. As for the
large coins which weigh a _drachma_, a _sicilicus_, half an _uncia_, or
an _uncia_, beat them into leaves. Then take a _bes_ of the granules, or
an equal weight of the leaves, and likewise take another _bes_ in the
same way. Wrap each sample separately in paper, and afterwards place two
small pieces of lead in two cupels which have first been heated. The
more precious the money is, the smaller portion of lead do we require
for the assay, the more base, the larger is the portion required; for if
a _bes_ of silver is said to contain only half an _uncia_ or one _uncia_
of copper, we add to the _bes_ of granules half an _uncia_ of lead. If
it is composed of equal parts of silver and copper, we add an _uncia_ of
lead, but if in a _bes_ of copper there is only half an _uncia_ or one
_uncia_ of silver, we add an _uncia_ and a half of lead. As soon as the
lead has begun to fume, put into each cupel one of the papers in which
is wrapped the sample of silver alloyed with copper, and close the mouth
of the muffle with charcoal. Heat them with a gentle fire until all the
lead and copper are consumed, for a hot fire by its heat forces the
silver, combined with a certain portion of lead, into the cupel, in
which way the assay is rendered erroneous. Then take the beads out of
the cupel and clean them of dross. If neither depresses the pan of the
balance in which it is placed, but their weight is equal, the assay has
been free from error; but if one bead depresses its pan, then there is
an error, for which reason the assay must be repeated. If the _bes_ of
coin contains but seven _unciae_ of pure silver it is because the King,
or Prince, or the State who coins the money, has taken one _uncia_,
which he keeps partly for profit and partly for the expense of coining,
he having added copper to the silver. Of all these matters I have
written extensively in my book _De Precio Metallorum et Monetis_.

We assay gold coins in various ways. If there is copper mixed with the
gold, we melt them by fire in the same way as silver coins; if there is
silver mixed with the gold, they are separated by the strongest _aqua
valens_; if there is copper and silver mixed with the gold, then in the
first place, after the addition of lead, they are heated in the cupel
until the fire consumes the copper and the lead, and afterward the gold
is parted from the silver.

It remains to speak of the touchstone[37] with which gold and silver are
tested, and which was also used by the Ancients. For although the assay
made by fire is more certain, still, since we often have no furnace, nor
muffle, nor crucibles, or some delay must be occasioned in using them,
we can always rub gold or silver on the touchstone, which we can have in
readiness. Further, when gold coins are assayed in the fire, of what use
are they afterward? A touchstone must be selected which is thoroughly
black and free of sulphur, for the blacker it is and the more devoid of
sulphur, the better it generally is; I have written elsewhere of its
nature[38]. First the gold is rubbed on the touchstone, whether it
contains silver or whether it is obtained from the mines or from the
smelting; silver also is rubbed in the same way. Then one of the
needles, that we judge by its colour to be of similar composition, is
rubbed on the touchstone; if this proves too pale, another needle which
has a stronger colour is rubbed on the touchstone; and if this proves
too deep in colour, a third which has a little paler colour is used. For
this will show us how great a proportion of silver or copper, or silver
and copper together, is in the gold, or else how great a proportion of
copper is in silver.

These needles are of four kinds.[39] The first kind are made of gold and
silver, the second of gold and copper, the third of gold, silver, and
copper, and the fourth of silver and copper. The first three kinds of
needles are used principally for testing gold, and the fourth for
silver. Needles of this kind are prepared in the following ways. The
lesser weights correspond proportionately to the larger weights, and
both of them are used, not only by mining people, but by coiners also.
The needles are made in accordance with the lesser weights, and each set
corresponds to a _bes_, which, in our own vocabulary, is called a
_mark_. The _bes_, which is employed by those who coin gold, is divided
into twenty-four double _sextulae_, which are now called after the
Greek name _ceratia_; and each double _sextula_ is divided into four
_semi-sextulae_, which are called _granas_; and each _semi-sextula_ is
divided into three units of four _siliquae_ each, of which each unit is
called a _grenlin_. If we made the needles to be each four _siliquae_,
there would be two hundred and eighty-eight in a _bes_, but if each were
made to be a _semi-sextula_ or a double _scripula_, then there would be
ninety-six in a _bes_. By these two methods too many needles would be
made, and the majority of them, by reason of the small difference in the
proportion of the gold, would indicate nothing, therefore it is
advisable to make them each of a double _sextula_; in this way
twenty-four needles are made, of which the first is made of twenty-three
_duellae_ of silver and one of gold. Fannius is our authority that the
Ancients called the double _sextula_ a _duella_. When a bar of silver is
rubbed on the touchstone and colours it just as this needle does, it
contains one _duella_ of gold. In this manner we determine by the other
needles what proportion of gold there is, or when the gold exceeds the
silver in weight, what proportion of silver.

[Illustration 255 (Touch-needles)]

The needles are made[40]:--

  The 1st needle of 23 _duellae_ of silver and 1 _duella_ of gold.
   "  2nd    "      22    "          "         2 _duellae_ of gold.
   "  3rd    "      21    "          "         3      "        "
   "  4th    "      20    "          "         4      "        "
   "  5th    "      19    "          "         5      "        "
   "  6th    "      18    "          "         6      "        "
   "  7th    "      17    "          "         7      "        "
   "  8th    "      16    "          "         8      "        "
   "  9th    "      15    "          "         9      "        "
   "  10th   "      14    "          "        10      "        "
   "  11th   "      13    "          "        11      "        "
   "  12th   "      12    "          "        12      "        "
   "  13th   "      11    "          "        13      "        "
   "  14th   "      10    "          "        14      "        "
   "  15th   "       9    "          "        15      "        "
   "  16th   "       8    "          "        16      "        "
   "  17th   "       7    "          "        17      "        "
   "  18th   "       6    "          "        18      "        "
   "  19th   "       5    "          "        19      "        "
   "  20th   "       4    "          "        20      "        "
   "  21st   "       3    "          "        21      "        "
   "  22nd   "       2    "          "        22      "        "
   "  23rd   "       1    "          "        23      "        "
   "  24th   "       pure gold

By the first eleven needles, when they are rubbed on the touchstone, we
test what proportion of gold a bar of silver contains, and with the
remaining thirteen we test what proportion of silver is in a bar of
gold; and also what proportion of either may be in money.

Since some gold coins are composed of gold and copper, thirteen needles
of another kind are made as follows:--

  The 1st of 12 _duellae_ of gold and 12 _duellae_ of copper.
   "  2nd  " 13    "          "       11    "           "
   "  3rd  " 14    "          "       10    "           "
   "  4th  " 15    "          "        9    "           "
   "  5th  " 16    "          "        8    "           "
   "  6th  " 17    "          "        7    "           "
   "  7th  " 18    "          "        6    "           "
   "  8th  " 19    "          "        5    "           "
   "  9th  " 20    "          "        4    "           "
   " 10th  " 21    "          "        3    "           "
   " 11th  " 22    "          "        2    "           "
   " 12th  " 23    "          "        1    "           "
   " 13th  " pure gold.

These needles are not much used, because gold coins of that kind are
somewhat rare; the ones chiefly used are those in which there is much
copper. Needles of the third kind, which are composed of gold, silver,
and copper, are more largely used, because such gold coins are common.
But since with the gold there are mixed equal or unequal portions of
silver and copper, two sorts of needles are made. If the proportion of
silver and copper is equal, the needles are as follows:--

                Gold.               Silver.                   Copper.
  The 1st of 12 _duellae_   6 _duellae_ 0 _sextula_   6 _duellae_ 0 _sextula_
   "  2nd  " 13   "         5   "       1    "        5    "      1    "
   "  3rd  " 14   "         5   "                     5    "
   "  4th  " 15   "         4   "       1    "        4    "      1    "
   "  5th  " 16   "         4   "                     4    "
   "  6th  " 17   "         3   "       1    "        3    "      1    "
   "  7th  " 18   "         3   "                     3    "
   "  8th  " 19   "         2   "       1    "        2    "      1    "
   "  9th  " 20   "         2   "                     2    "
   " 10th  " 21   "         1   "       1    "        1    "      1    "
   " 11th  " 22   "         1   "                     1    "
   " 12th  " 23   "         1   "
   " 13th  " pure gold.

Some make twenty-five needles, in order to be able to detect the two
_scripula_ of silver or copper which are in a _bes_ of gold. Of these
needles, the first is composed of twelve _duellae_ of gold and six of
silver, and the same number of copper. The second, of twelve _duellae_
and one _sextula_ of gold and five _duellae_ and one and a half
_sextulae_ of silver, and the same number of _duellae_ and one and a
half _sextulae_ of copper. The remaining needles are made in the same

Pliny is our authority that the Romans could tell to within one
_scripulum_ how much gold was in any given alloy, and how much silver or

Needles may be made in either of two ways, namely, in the ways of which
I have spoken, and in the ways of which I am now about to speak. If
unequal portions of silver and copper have been mixed with the gold,
thirty-seven needles are made in the following way:--

              Gold.              Silver.                   Copper.
            _Duellae_.    _Duellae_                 _Duellae_
                                _Sextulae_                _Sextulae_
                                      _Siliquae_.               _Siliquae_.
  The 1st of   12           9     0         0         3     0         0
   "  2nd "    12           8     0         0         4     0         0
   "  3rd "    12           7                         5

   "  4th "    13           8     1/2                 2     1/2
   "  5th "    13           7     1/2       4         3     1         8
   "  6th "    13           6     1/2       8         4     1         4

   "  7th "    14           7     1                   2     1
   "  8th "    14           6     1         8         3     1/2       4
   "  9th "    14           5     1-1/2     4         4               8

   " 10th "    15           6     1-1/2               2     1/2
   " 11th "    15           6                         3
   " 12th "    15           5     1/2                 3     1-1/2

   " 13th "    16           6                         2
   " 14th "    16           5     1/2       4         2     1         8
   " 15th "    16           4     1         8         3     1/2       4

   " 16th "    17           5     1/2       0         1     1-1/2
   " 17th "    17           4     1         8         2     1/2       4
   " 18th "    17           4     4                   2     1-1/2     8

   " 19th "    18           4     1                   1     1
   " 20th "    18           4     0                   2
   " 21st "    18           3     1                   2     1

   " 22nd "    19           2     1-1/2               1     1/2
   " 23rd "    19           3     1/2       4         1     1         8
   " 24th "    19           2     1-1/2     8         2               4

   " 25th "    20           3                         1
   " 26th "    20           2     1         8         1      1/2      4
   " 27th "    20           2     1/2       4         1      1        8

   " 28th "    21           2     1/2                 1-1/2
   " 29th "    21           2                         1
   " 30th "    21           1     1-1/2               1      1/2

   " 31st "    22           1     1                   1
   " 32nd "    22           1     1/2       4         0      1        8
   " 33rd "    22           1               8                1-1/2    4

   " 34th "    23                 1-1/2                      1/2
   " 35th "    23                 1         8                1/2      4
   " 36th "    23                 1         4                1/2      8
   " 37th "    pure gold.

Since it is rarely found that gold, which has been coined, does not
amount to at least fifteen _duellae_ gold in a _bes_, some make only
twenty-eight needles, and some make them different from those already
described, inasmuch as the alloy of gold with silver and copper is
sometimes differently proportioned.

These needles are made:--

              Gold.              Silver.                   Copper.
            _Duellae_.    _Duellae_                 _Duellae_
                                _Sextulae_                _Sextulae_
                                      _Siliquae_.               _Siliquae_.
  The 1st of   15           6     1         8         2     1/2       4
   "  2nd "    15           6               4         2     1-1/2     8
   "  3rd "    15           5     1/2                 3     1-1/2

   "  4th "    16           6     1/2                 1     1-1/2
   "  5th "    16           5     1         8         2     1/2       4
   "  6th "    16           4     1-1/2     8         3               4

   "  7th "    17           5     1         4         1     1/2       8
   "  8th "    17           5               4         1     1-1/2     8
   "  9th "    17           4     1         4         2     1/2       8

   " 10th "    18           4     1                   1     1
   " 11th "    18           4                         2
   " 12th "    18           3     1                   2     1

   " 13th "    19           3     1-1/2     4         1               8
   " 14th "    19           3     1/2       4         1     1         8
   " 15th "    19           2     1-1/2     4         2               8

   " 16th "    20           3                         1
   " 17th "    20           2                         1     1
   " 18th "    20           2                         2

   " 19th "    21           2     1/2       4               1         8
   " 20th "    21           1     1-1/2     4         1               8
   " 21st "    21           1     1         8         1     1/2       4

   " 22nd "    22           1     1         8               1/2       4
   " 23rd "    22           1     1                         1
   " 24th "    22           1     1/2       4               1         8

   " 25th "    23                 1-1/2     4                         8
   " 26th "    23                 1-1/2                     1/2
   " 27th "    23                 1         8               1/2       4
   " 28th "   pure gold

Next follows the fourth kind of needles, by which we test silver coins
which contain copper, or copper coins which contain silver. The _bes_ by
which we weigh the silver is divided in two different ways. It is either
divided twelve times, into units of five _drachmae_ and one _scripulum_
each, which the ordinary people call _nummi_[41]; each of these units
we again divide into twenty-four units of four _siliquae_ each, which
the same ordinary people call a _grenlin_; or else the _bes_ is divided
into sixteen _semunciae_ which are called _loths_, each of which is
again divided into eighteen units of four _siliquae_ each, which they
call _grenlin_. Or else the _bes_ is divided into sixteen _semunciae_,
of which each is divided into four _drachmae_, and each _drachma_ into
four _pfennige_. Needles are made in accordance with each method of
dividing the _bes_. According to the first method, to the number of
twenty-four half _nummi_; according to the second method, to the number
of thirty-one half _semunciae_, that is to say a _sicilicus_; for if the
needles were made to the number of the smaller weights, the number of
needles would again be too large, and not a few of them, by reason of
the small difference in proportion of silver or copper, would have no
significance. We test both bars and coined money composed of silver and
copper by both scales. The one is as follows: the first needle is made
of twenty-three parts of copper and one part silver; whereby, whatsoever
bar or coin, when rubbed on the touchstone, colours it just as this
needle does, in that bar or money there is one twenty-fourth part of
silver, and so also, in accordance with the proportion of silver, is
known the remaining proportion of the copper.

  The 1st needle is made of 23 parts of copper and 1 of silver.
   " 2nd    "        "      22   "        "        2      "
   " 3rd    "        "      21   "        "        3      "
   " 4th    "        "      20   "        "        4      "
   " 5th    "        "      19   "        "        5      "
   " 6th    "        "      18   "        "        6      "
   " 7th    "        "      17   "        "        7      "
   " 8th    "        "      16   "        "        8      "
   " 9th    "        "      15   "        "        9      "
   " 10th   "        "      14   "        "       10      "
   " 11th   "        "      13   "        "       11      "
   " 12th   "        "      12   "        "       12      "
   " 13th   "        "      11   "        "       13      "
   " 14th   "        "      10   "        "       14      "
   " 15th   "        "       9   "        "       15      "
   " 16th   "        "       8   "        "       16      "
   " 17th   "        "       7   "        "       17      "
   " 18th   "        "       6   "        "       18      "
   " 19th   "        "       5   "        "       19      "
   " 20th   "        "       4   "        "       20      "
   " 21st   "        "       3   "        "       21      "
   " 22nd   "        "       2   "        "       22      "
   " 23rd   "        "       1   "        "       23      "
   " 24th of pure silver.

The other method of making needles is as follows:--

                        Copper.                  Silver.
                 _Semunciae_ _Sicilici._     _Semunciae_ _Sicilici._

  The 1st is of      15                           1
   "  2nd "   "      14           1               1           1
   "  3rd "   "      14                           2

   "  4th "   "      13           1               2           1
   "  5th "   "      13                           3
   "  6th "   "      12           1               3           1

   "  7th "   "      12                           4
   "  8th "   "      11           1               4           1
   "  9th "   "      11                           5

   " 10th "   "      10           1               5           1
   " 11th "   "      10                           6
   " 12th "   "       9           1               6           1

   " 13th "   "       9                           7
   " 14th "   "       8           1               7           1
   " 15th "   "       8                           8

   " 16th "   "       7           1               8           1
   " 17th "   "       7                           9
   " 18th "   "       6           1               9           1

   " 19th "   "       6                          10
   " 20th "   "       5           1              10           1
   " 21st "   "       5                          11

   " 22nd "   "       4           1              11           1
   " 23rd "   "       4                          12
   " 24th "   "       3           1              12           1

   " 25th "   "       3                          13
   " 26th "   "       2           1              13           1
   " 27th "   "       2                          14

   " 28th "   "       1           1              14           1
   " 29th "   "       1                          15
   " 30th "   "                   1              15           1
   " 31st of pure silver.

So much for this. Perhaps I have used more words than those most highly
skilled in the art may require, but it is necessary for the
understanding of these matters.

I will now speak of the weights, of which I have frequently made
mention. Among mining people these are of two kinds, that is, the
greater weights and the lesser weights. The _centumpondium_ is the first
and largest weight, and of course consists of one hundred _librae_, and
for that reason is called a hundred weight.

The various weights are:--

  1st = 100 _librae_ = _centumpondium_.
  2nd =  50     "
  3rd =  25     "
  4th =  16     "
  5th =   8     "
  6th =   4     "
  7th =   2     "
  8th =   1 _libra_.

This _libra_ consists of sixteen _unciae_, and the half part of the
_libra_ is the _selibra_, which our people call a _mark_, and consists
of eight _unciae_, or, as they divide it, of sixteen _semunciae_:--

   9th = 8 _unciae_.
  10th = 8 _semunciae_.
  11th = 4     "
  12th = 2     "
  13th = 1 _semuncia_.
  14th = 1 _sicilicus_.
  15th = 1 _drachma_.
  16th = 1 _dimidi-drachma_.

[Illustration 262 (Weights for Assay Balances)]

The above is how the "greater" weights are divided. The "lesser" weights
are made of silver or brass or copper. Of these, the first and largest
generally weighs one _drachma_, for it is necessary for us to weigh, not
only ore, but also metals to be assayed, and smaller quantities of lead.
The first of these weights is called a _centumpondium_ and the number of
_librae_ in it corresponds to the larger scale, being likewise one

  The  1st is called  1 _centumpondium_.
   "   2nd    "      50 _librae_.
   "   3rd    "      25     "
   "   4th    "      16     "
   "   5th    "       8     "
   "   6th    "       4     "
   "   7th    "       2     "
   "   8th    "       1     "
   "   9th    "       1 _selibra_.
   "  10th    "       8 _semunciae_.
   "  11th    "       4     "
   "  12th    "       2     "
   "  13th    "       1     "
   "  14th    "       1 _sicilicus_.

The fourteenth is the last, for the proportionate weights which
correspond with a _drachma_ and half a _drachma_ are not used. On all
these weights of the lesser scale, are written the numbers of _librae_
and of _semunciae_. Some copper assayers divide both the lesser and
greater scale weights into divisions of a different scale. Their largest
weight of the greater scale weighs one hundred and twelve _librae_,
which is the first unit of measurement.

   1st  = 112 _librae_.
   2nd  =  64     "
   3rd  =  32     "
   4th  =  16     "
   5th  =   8     "
   6th  =   4     "
   7th  =   2     "
   8th  =   1     "
   9th  =   1 _selibra_ or sixteen _semunciae_.
  10th  =   8 _semunciae_.
  11th  =   4     "
  12th  =   2     "
  13th  =   1     "

As for the _selibra_ of the lesser weights, which our people, as I have
often said, call a _mark_, and the Romans call a _bes_, coiners who coin
gold, divide it just like the greater weights scale, into twenty-four
units of two _sextulae_ each, and each unit of two _sextulae_ is divided
into four _semi-sextulae_ and each _semi-sextula_ into three units of
four _siliquae_ each. Some also divide the separate units of four
_siliquae_ into four individual _siliquae_, but most, omitting the
_semi-sextulae_, then divide the double _sextula_ into twelve units of
four _siliquae_ each, and do not divide these into four individual
_siliquae_. Thus the first and greatest unit of measurement, which is
the _bes_, weighs twenty-four double _sextulae_.

  The 2nd = 12 double _sextulae_.
   "  3rd =  6   "          "
   "  4th =  3   "          "
   "  5th =  2   "          "
   "  6th =  1   "          "
   "  7th =  2 _semi-sextulae_ or four _semi-sextulae_.
   "  8th =  1 _semi-sextula_ or 3 units of 4 _siliquae_ each.
   "  9th =  2 units of four _siliquae_ each.
   " 10th =  1   "       "     "

Coiners who mint silver also divide the _bes_ of the lesser weights in
the same way as the greater weights; our people, indeed, divide it into
sixteen _semunciae_, and the _semuncia_ into eighteen units of four
_siliquae_ each.

There are ten weights which are placed in the other pan of the balance,
when they weigh the silver which remains from the copper that has been
consumed, when they assay the alloy with fire.

  The 1st = 16 _semunciae_ = 1 _bes_.
   "  2nd =  8       "
   "  3rd =  4       "
   "  4th =  2       "
   "  5th =  1       "   or 18 units of 4 _siliquae_ each.
   "  6th =  9 units of 4 _siliquae_ each.
   "  7th =  6       "       "
   "  8th =  3       "       "
   "  9th =  2       "       "
   " 10th =  1       "       "

The coiners of Nuremberg who mint silver, divide the _bes_ into sixteen
_semunciae_, but divide the _semuncia_ into four _drachmae_, and the
_drachma_ into four _pfennige_. They employ nine weights.

  The 1st = 16 _semunciae_.
   "  2nd =  8       "
   "  3rd =  4       "
   "  4th =  2       "
   "  5th =  1       "

For they divide the _bes_ in the same way as our own people, but since
they divide the _semuncia_ into four _drachmae_,

  the 6th weight = 2 _drachmae_.
   "  7th   "    = 1 _drachma_ or 4 _pfennige_.
   "  8th   "    = 2 _pfennige_.
   "  9th   "    = 1 _pfennig_.

The men of Cologne and Antwerp[43] divide the _bes_ into twelve units of
five _drachmae_ and one _scripulum_, which weights they call _nummi_.
Each of these they again divide into twenty-four units of four
_siliquae_ each, which they call _grenlins_. They have ten weights, of

  the 1st = 12 _nummi_ = 1 _bes_.
   "  2nd =  6   "
   "  3rd =  3   "
   "  4th =  2   "
   "  5th =  1   "     = 24 units of 4 _siliquae_ each.
   "  6th = 12 units of 4 _siliquae_ each.
   "  7th =  6   "           "
   "  8th =  3   "           "
   "  9th =  2   "           "
   " 10th =  1   "           "

And so with them, just as with our own people, the _mark_ is divided
into two hundred and eighty-eight _grenlins_, and by the people of
Nuremberg it is divided into two hundred and fifty-six _pfennige_.
Lastly, the Venetians divide the _bes_ into eight _unciae_. The _uncia_
into four _sicilici_, the _sicilicus_ into thirty-six _siliquae_. They
make twelve weights, which they use whenever they wish to assay alloys
of silver and copper. Of these

  the 1st =  8 _unciae_ = 1 _bes_.
   "  2nd =  4    "
   "  3rd =  2    "
   "  4th =  1    "  or 4 _sicilici_.
   "  5th =  2 _sicilici_.
   "  6th =  1 _sicilicus_.
   "  7th = 18 _siliquae_.
   "  8th =  9    "
   "  9th =  6    "
   " 10th =  3    "
   " 11th =  2    "
   " 12th =  1    "

Since the Venetians divide the _bes_ into eleven hundred and fifty-two
_siliquae_, or two hundred and eighty-eight units of 4 _siliquae_ each,
into which number our people also divide the _bes_, they thus make the
same number of _siliquae_, and both agree, even though the Venetians
divide the _bes_ into smaller divisions.

This, then, is the system of weights, both of the greater and the lesser
kinds, which metallurgists employ, and likewise the system of the lesser
weights which coiners and merchants employ, when they are assaying
metals and coined money. The _bes_ of the larger weight with which they
provide themselves when they weigh large masses of these things, I have
explained in my work _De Mensuris et Ponderibus_, and in another book,
_De Precio Metallorum et Monetis_.

[Illustration 265 (Balances): A--First small balance. B--Second.
C--Third, placed in a case.]

There are three small balances by which we weigh ore, metals, and
fluxes. The first, by which we weigh lead and fluxes, is the largest
among these smaller balances, and when eight _unciae_ (of the greater
weights) are placed in one of its pans, and the same number in the
other, it sustains no damage. The second is more delicate, and by this
we weigh the ore or the metal, which is to be assayed; this is well able
to carry one _centumpondium_ of the lesser weights in one pan, and in
the other, ore or metal as heavy as that weight. The third is the most
delicate, and by this we weigh the beads of gold or silver, which, when
the assay is completed, settle in the bottom of the cupel. But if anyone
weighs lead in the second balance, or an ore in the third, he will do
them much injury.

Whatsoever small amount of metal is obtained from a _centumpondium_ of
the lesser weights of ore or metal alloy, the same greater weight of
metal is smelted from a _centumpondium_ of the greater weight of ore or
metal alloy.



[1] We have but little record of anything which could be called
"assaying" among the Greeks and Romans. The fact, however, that they
made constant use of the touchstone (see note 37, p. 252) is sufficient
proof that they were able to test the purity of gold and silver. The
description of the touchstone by Theophrastus contains several
references to "trial" by fire (see note 37, p. 252). They were adepts at
metal working, and were therefore familiar with melting metals on a
small scale, with the smelting of silver, lead, copper, and tin ores
(see note 1, p. 353) and with the parting of silver and lead by
cupellation. Consequently, it would not require much of an imaginative
flight to conclude that there existed some system of tests of ore and
metal values by fire. Apart from the statement of Theophrastus referred
to, the first references made to anything which might fill the _rôle_ of
assaying are from the Alchemists, particularly Geber (prior to 1300),
for they describe methods of solution, precipitation, distillation,
fusing in crucibles, cupellation, and of the parting of gold and silver
by acid and by sulphur, antimony, or cementation. However, they were not
bent on determining quantitative values, which is the fundamental object
of the assayer's art, and all their discussion is shrouded in an obscure
cloak of gibberish and attempted mysticism. Nevertheless, therein lies
the foundation of many cardinal assay methods, and even of chemistry

The first explicit records of assaying are the anonymous booklets
published in German early in the 16th Century under the title
_Probierbüchlein_. Therein the art is disclosed well advanced toward
maturity, so far as concerns gold and silver, with some notes on lead
and copper. We refer the reader to Appendix B for fuller discussion of
these books, but we may repeat here that they are a collection of
disconnected recipes lacking in arrangement, the items often repeated,
and all apparently the inheritance of wisdom passed from father to son
over many generations. It is obviously intended as a sort of reminder to
those already skilled in the art, and would be hopeless to a novice.
Apart from some notes in Biringuccio (Book III, Chaps. 1 and 2) on
assaying gold and silver, there is nothing else prior to _De Re
Metallica_. Agricola was familiar with these works and includes their
material in this chapter. The very great advance which his account
represents can only be appreciated by comparison, but the exhaustive
publication of other works is foreign to the purpose of these notes.
Agricola introduces system into the arrangement of his materials,
describes implements, and gives a hundred details which are wholly
omitted from the previous works, all in a manner which would enable a
beginner to learn the art. Furthermore, the assaying of lead, copper,
tin, quicksilver, iron, and bismuth, is almost wholly new, together with
the whole of the argument and explanations. We would call the attention
of students of the history of chemistry to the general oversight of
these early 16th Century attempts at analytical chemistry, for in them
lie the foundations of that science. The statement sometimes made that
Agricola was the first assayer, is false if for no other reason than
that science does not develop with such strides at any one human hand.
He can, however, fairly be accounted as the author of the first proper
text-book upon assaying. Those familiar with the art will be astonished
at the small progress made since his time, for in his pages appear most
of the reagents and most of the critical operations in the dry analyses
of gold, silver, lead, copper, tin, bismuth, quicksilver, and iron of
to-day. Further, there will be recognised many of the "kinks" of the art
used even yet, such as the method of granulation, duplicate assays, the
"assay ton" method of weights, the use of test lead, the introduction of
charges in leaf lead, and even the use of beer instead of water to damp

The following table is given of the substances mentioned requiring some
comment, and the terms adopted in this book, with notes for convenience
in reference. The German terms are either from Agricola's Glossary of
_De Re Metallica_, his _Interpretatio_, or the German Translation. We
have retained the original German spelling. The fifth column refers to
the page where more ample notes are given:--

  Terms             Latin.           German.          Remarks.          Further
   adopted.                                                              Notes.

  Alum              _Alumen_         _Alaun_          Either potassium    p. 564
                                                       or ammonia alum

  Ampulla           _Ampulla_        _Kolb_           A distillation jar

  Antimony          _Stibium_        _Spiesglas_      Practically always  p. 428
                                                       antimony sulphide

  _Aqua valens_     _Aqua valens_    _Scheidewasser_  Mostly nitric acid  p. 439
   or _aqua_

  Argol             _Feces vini      _Die             Crude tartar        p. 234
                     siccae_          weinheffen_

  Ash of lead       _Nigrum                           Artificial lead     p. 237
                     plumbum                          sulphide

  Ash of musk ivy   _Sal ex          _Salalkali_      Mostly potash       p. 560
   (Salt made        anthyllidis
   from)             cinere factus_

  Ashes which       _Cineres quo                      Mostly potash       p. 559
   wool-dyers use     infectores

  Assay            _Venas experiri_  _Probiren_

  Assay furnace    _Fornacula_       _Probir ofen_    "Little" furnace

  Azure            _Caeruleum_       _Lasur_          Partly copper       p. 110
                                                       partly silicate

  Bismuth           _Plumbum         _Wismut_         _Bismuth_           p. 433

  Bitumen           _Bitumen_        _Bergwachs_                          p. 581

  Blast furnace     _Prima fornax_   _Schmeltzofen_

  Borax             _Chrysocolla ex  _Borras; Tincar_                     p. 560
                     quam boracem

  Burned alum       _Alumen coctum_  _Gesottener      Probably            p. 565
                                      alaun_           dehydrated alum

  _Cadmia_                                            (1) Furnace         p. 112
   (see note                                           accretions (2)
    8, p. 112)                                         Calamine (3) Zinc
                                                       blende (4) Cobalt
                                                       arsenical sulphides

  Camphor           _Camphora_       _Campffer_                           p. 238

   called borax
   (see borax)

  Chrysocolla       _Chrysocolla_    _Berggrün und    Partly              p. 110
   (copper                            Schifergrün_     chrysocolla,
   mineral)                                            partly malachite

  Copper filings    _Aeris scobs     _Kupferfeilich_  Apparently finely   p. 233
                     elimata_                          divided copper

  Copper flowers    _Aeris flos_     _Kupferbraun_    Cupric oxide        p. 538

  Copper scales     _Aeris squamae_  _Kupfer          Probably cupric
                                      hammerschlag     oxide
                                      oder kessel

   minerals (see
   note 8,
   p. 109)

  Crucible          _Catillus        _Dreieckicht-    See illustration    p. 229
   (triangular)      triangularis_    schirbe_

  Cupel             _Catillus        _Capelle_

  Cupellation       _Secunda         _Treibherd_
   furnace           fornax_

  Flux              _Additamentum_   _Zusetze_                            p. 232

  Furnace           _Cadmia          _Mitlere und
   accretions        fornacum_        obere

  Galena            _Lapis           _Glantz_         Lead sulphide       p. 110

  Glass-gall        _Recrementum     _Glassgallen_    Skimmings from      p. 235
                     vitri_                            glass melting

  Grey antimony or  _Stibi_ or       _Spiesglas_      Antimony sulphide,  p. 428
   stibium            _stibium_                        stibnite

  Hearth-lead       _Molybdaena_     _Herdplei_       The saturated       p. 476
                                                       furnace bottoms
                                                       from cupellation

  Hoop (iron)       _Circulus        _Ring_           A forge for         p. 226
                     ferreus_                          crucibles

  Iron filings     _Ferri scobs      _Eisen feilich_  Metallic iron

  Iron scales       _Squamae ferri_  _Eisen           Partly iron oxide

  Iron slag         _Recrementum     _Sinder_

  Lead ash          _Cinis plumbi    _Pleiasche_      Artificial lead     p. 237
                     nigri_                            sulphide

  Lead granules     _Globuli         _Gekornt plei_   Granulated lead

  Lead ochre        _Ochra           _Pleigeel_       Modern massicot     p. 232
                     plumbaria_                        (PbO)

  Lees of _aqua_    _Feces aquarum   _Scheidewasser   Uncertain           p. 234
   which separates   quae aurum ab    heffe_
   gold from         argento
   silver            secernunt_

  Dried lees of     _Siccae feces    _Heffe des       Argol               p. 234
   vinegar           aceti_           essigs_

  Dried lees of     _Feces vini       _Wein heffen_   Argol               p. 234
   wine              siccae_

  Limestone         _Saxum calcis_   _Kalchstein_

  Litharge          _Spuma argenti_  _Glette_

  Lye               _Lixivium_       _Lauge durch     Mostly potash       p. 233

  Muffle            _Tegula_         _Muffel_         Latin, literally

  Operculum         _Operculum_      _Helm oder       Helmet or cover
                                      alembick_        for a distillation

  Orpiment          _Auripigmentum_  _Operment_       Yellow sulphide     p. 111
                                                       of arsenic

  Pyrites           _Pyrites_        _Kis_            Rather a genus      p. 112
                                                       of sulphides,
                                                       than iron
                                                       pyrite in

  Pyrites (Cakes    _Panes ex        _Stein_          Iron or Copper      p. 350
    from)            pyrite                            matte

  Realgar           _Sandaraca_      _Rosgeel_        Red sulphide of     p. 111
                                                       arsenic (AsS)

  Red lead          _Minium_         _Menning_        Pb_{3}O_{4}         p. 232

  Roasted copper    _Aes ustum_      _Gebrandt        Artificial          p. 233
                                      kupffer_         copper
                                                       sulphide (?)

  Salt              _Sal_            _Saltz_          NaCl                p. 233

  Salt (Rock)       _Sal fossilis_   _Berg saltz_     NaCl                p. 233

  _Sal              _Sal                              A stock flux?       p. 236
   artificiosus_     artificiosus_

  Sal ammoniac      _Sal             _Salarmoniac_    NH_{4}Cl            p. 560

  Saltpetre         _Halinitrum_     _Salpeter_       KNO_{3}             p. 561

  Salt (refined)    _Sal facticius                    NaCl

  _Sal tostus_      _Sal tostus_     _Geröst saltz_   Apparently          p. 233
                                                       simply heated or
                                                       melted common

  _Sal              _Sal             _Geröst saltz_                       p. 233
   torrefactus_      torrefactus_

  Salt (melted)     _Sal             _Geflossen       Melted salt or      p. 233
                     liquefactus_     saltz_           salt glass

  Scorifier         _Catillus        _Scherbe_

  Schist            _Saxum fissile_  _Schifer_

  Silver minerals
   (see note 8,
   p. 108)

  Slag              _Recrementum_    _Schlacken_

  Soda              _Nitrum_                          Mostly soda from    p. 558

  Stones which      _Lapides qui     _Flüs_           Quartz and          p. 380
   easily melt       facile igni                       fluorspar

  Sulphur           _Sulfur_         _Schwefel_                           p. 579

  _Tophus_          _Tophus_         _Topstein_       Marl(?)             p. 233

  Touchstone        _Coticula_       _Goldstein_

  Venetian glass    _Venetianum

  Verdigris         _Aerugo          _Grünspan_       Copper              p. 440
                     oder                              sub-acetate

  Vitriol           _Atramentum      _Kupferwasser_   Mostly FeSO_{4}     p. 572

  White schist      _Saxum fissile   _Weisser                             p. 234
                     album_           schifer_

  Weights (see

[2] _Crudorum_,--unbaked?

[3] This reference is not very clear. Apparently the names refer to the
German terms _probier ofen_ and _windt ofen_.

[4] _Circulus_. This term does not offer a very satisfactory equivalent,
as such a furnace has no distinctive name in English. It is obviously a
sort of forge for fusing in crucibles.

[5] _Spissa_,--"Dry." This term is used in contra-distinction to
_pingue_, unctuous or "fatty."

[6] _Additamenta_,--"Additions." Hence the play on words.

We have adopted "flux" because the old English equivalent for all these
materials was "flux," although in modern nomenclature the term is
generally restricted to those substances which, by chemical combination
in the furnace, lower the melting point of some of the charge. The
"additions" of Agricola, therefore, include reducing, oxidizing,
sulphurizing, desulphurizing, and collecting agents as well as fluxes. A
critical examination of the fluxes mentioned in the next four pages
gives point to the Author's assertion that "some are of a very
complicated nature." However, anyone of experience with home-taught
assayers has come in contact with equally extraordinary combinations.
The four orders of "additions" enumerated are quite impossible to
reconcile from a modern metallurgical point of view.

[7] _Minium secundarium_. (_Interpretatio_,--_menning_. Pb_{3}O_{4}).
Agricola derived his Latin term from Pliny. There is great confusion in
the ancient writers on the use of the word _minium_, for prior to the
Middle Ages it was usually applied to vermilion derived from cinnabar.
Vermilion was much adulterated with red-lead, even in Roman times, and
finally in later centuries the name came to be appropriated to the lead
product. Theophrastus (103) mentions a substitute for vermilion, but, in
spite of commentators, there is no evidence that it was red-lead. The
first to describe the manufacture of real red-lead was apparently
Vitruvius (VII, 12), who calls it _sandaraca_ (this name was usually
applied to red arsenical sulphide), and says: "White-lead is heated in a
furnace and by the force of the fire becomes red lead. This invention
was the result of observation in the case of an accidental fire, and by
the process a much better material is obtained than from the mines." He
describes _minium_ as the product from cinnabar. Dioscorides (V, 63),
after discussing white-lead, says it may be burned until it becomes the
colour of _sandaracha_, and is called _sandyx_. He also states (V, 69)
that those are deceived who consider cinnabar to be the same as
_minium_, for _minium_ is made in Spain out of stone mixed with silver
sands. Therefore he is not in agreement with Vitruvius and Pliny on the
use of the term. Pliny (XXXIII, 40) says: "These barren stones
(apparently lead ores barren of silver) may be recognised by their
colour; it is only in the furnace that they turn red. After being
roasted it is pulverized and is _minium secundarium_. It is known to few
and is very inferior to the natural kind made from those sands we have
mentioned (_cinnabar_). It is with this that the genuine _minium_ is
adulterated in the works of the Company." This proprietary company who
held a monopoly of the Spanish quicksilver mines, "had many methods of
adulterating it (_minium_)--a source of great plunder to the Company."
Pliny also describes the making of red lead from white.

[8] _Ochra plumbaria_. (_Interpretatio_,--_pleigeel_; modern
German,--_Bleigelb_). The German term indicates that this "Lead Ochre,"
a form of PbO, is what in the English trade is known as _massicot_, or
_masticot_. This material can be a partial product from almost any
cupellation where oxidation takes place below the melting point of the
oxide. It may have been known to the Ancients among the various species
into which they divided litharge, but there is no valid reason for
assigning to it any special one of their terms, so far as we can see.

[9] There are four forms of copper named as re-agents by Agricola:

  Copper filings    _Aeris scobs elimata._
  Copper scales     _Aeris squamae._
  Copper flowers    _Aeris flos._
  Roasted copper    _Aes ustum._

The first of these was no doubt finely divided copper metal; the second,
third, and fourth were probably all cupric oxide. According to Agricola
(_De Nat. Fos._, p. 352), the scales were the result of hammering the
metal; the flowers came off the metal when hot bars were quenched in
water, and a third kind were obtained from calcining the metal. "Both
flowers (_flos_) and hammer-scales (_squama_) have the same properties
as _crematum_ copper.... The particles of flower copper are finer than
scales or _crematum_ copper." If we assume that the verb _uro_ used in
_De Re Metallica_ is of the same import as _cremo_ in the _De Natura
Fossilium_, we can accept this material as being merely cupric oxide,
but the _aes ustum_ of Pliny--Agricola's usual source of technical
nomenclature--is probably an artificial sulphide. Dioscorides (V, 47),
who is apparently the source of Pliny's information, says:--"Of _chalcos
cecaumenos_, the best is red, and pulverized resembles the colour of
cinnabar; if it turns black, it is over-burnt. It is made from broken
ship nails put into a rough earthen pot, with alternate layers of equal
parts of sulphur and salt. The opening should be smeared with potter's
clay and the pot put in the furnace until it is thoroughly heated," etc.
Pliny (XXXIV, 23) states: "Moreover Cyprian copper is roasted in crude
earthen pots with an equal amount of sulphur; the apertures of the pots
are well luted, and they are kept in the furnace until the pot is
thoroughly heated. Some add salt, others use _alumen_ instead of
sulphur, others add nothing, but only sprinkle it with vinegar."

[10] The reader is referred to note 6, p. 558, for more ample discussion
of the alkalis. Agricola gives in this chapter four substances of that

     Soda (_nitrum_). Lye. "Ashes which wool-dyers use." "Salt made
     from the ashes of musk ivy."

The last three are certainly potash, probably impure. While the first
might be either potash or soda, the fact that the last three are
mentioned separately, together with other evidence, convinces us that by
the first is intended the _nitrum_ so generally imported into Europe
from Egypt during the Middle Ages. This imported salt was certainly the
natural bicarbonate, and we have, therefore, used the term "soda."

[11] In this chapter are mentioned seven kinds of common salt:

  Salt            _Sal._
  Rock salt       _Sal fossilis._
  "Made" salt     _Sal facticius._
  Refined salt    _Sal purgatius._
  Melted salt     _Sal liquefactus._

And in addition _sal tostus_ and _sal torrefactus_. _Sal facticius_ is
used in distinction from rock-salt. The melted salt would apparently be
salt-glass. What form the _sal tostus_ and _sal torrefactus_ could have
we cannot say, however, but they were possibly some form of heated salt;
they may have been combinations after the order of _sal artificiosus_
(see p. 236).

[12] "Stones which easily melt in hot furnaces and sand which is made
from them" (_lapides qui in ardentibus fornacibus facile liquescunt
arenae ab eis resolutae_). These were probably quartz in this instance,
although fluorspar is also included in this same genus. For fuller
discussion see note on p. 380.

[13] _Tophus_. (_Interpretatio_, _Toffstein oder topstein_). According
to Dana (Syst. of Min., p. 678), the German _topfstein_ was English
potstone or soapstone, a magnesian silicate. It is scarcely possible,
however, that this is what Agricola meant by this term, for such a
substance would be highly infusible. Agricola has a good deal to say
about this mineral in _De Natura Fossilium_ (p. 189 and 313), and from
these descriptions it would seem to be a tufaceous limestone of various
sorts, embracing some marls, stalagmites, calcareous sinter, etc. He
states: "Generally fire does not melt it, but makes it harder and breaks
it into powder. Tophus is said to be a stone found in caverns, made from
the dripping of stone juice solidified by cold ... sometimes it is found
containing many shells, and likewise the impressions of alder leaves;
our people make lime by burning it." Pliny, upon whom Agricola depends
largely for his nomenclature, mentions such a substance (XXXVI, 48):
"Among the multitude of stones there is _tophus_. It is unsuitable for
buildings, because it is perishable and soft. Still, however, there are
some places which have no other, as Carthage, in Africa. It is eaten
away by the emanations from the sea, crumbled to dust by the wind, and
washed away by the rain." In fact, _tophus_ was a wide genus among the
older mineralogists, Wallerius (_Meditationes Physico-Chemicae De
Origine Mundi_, Stockholm, 1776, p. 186), for instance, gives 22
varieties. For the purposes for which it is used we believe it was
always limestone of some form.

[14] _Saxum fissile album._ (_The Interpretatio_ gives the German as
_schifer_). Agricola mentions it in _Bermannus_ (459), in _De Natura
Fossilium_ (p. 319), but nothing definite can be derived from these
references. It appears to us from its use to have been either a
quartzite or a fissile limestone.

[15] Argol (_Feces vini siccae_,--"Dried lees of wine." Germ. trans.
gives _die wein heffen_, although the usual German term of the period
was _weinstein_). The lees of wine were the crude tartar or argols of
commerce and modern assayers. The argols of white wine are white, while
they are red from red wine. The white argol which Agricola so often
specifies would have no special excellence, unless it may be that it is
less easily adulterated. Agricola (_De Nat. Fos._, p. 344) uses the
expression "_Fex vini sicca_ called _tartarum_"--one of the earliest
appearances of the latter term in this connection. The use of argol is
very old, for Dioscorides (1st Century A.D.) not only describes argol,
but also its reduction to impure potash. He says (V, 90): "The lees
(_tryx_) are to be selected from old Italian wine; if not, from other
similar wine. Lees of vinegar are much stronger. They are carefully
dried and then burnt. There are some who burn them in a new earthen pot
on a large fire until they are thoroughly incinerated. Others place a
quantity of the lees on live coals and pursue the same method. The test
as to whether it is completely burned, is that it becomes white or blue,
and seems to burn the tongue when touched. The method of burning lees of
vinegar is the same.... It should be used fresh, as it quickly grows
stale; it should be placed in a vessel in a secluded place." Pliny
(XXIII, 31) says: "Following these, come the lees of these various
liquids. The lees of wine (_vini faecibus_) are so powerful as to be
fatal to persons on descending into the vats. The test for this is to
let down a lamp, which, if extinguished, indicates the peril.... Their
virtues are greatly increased by the action of fire." Matthioli,
commenting on this passage from Dioscorides in 1565, makes the following
remark (p. 1375): "The precipitate of the wine which settles in the
casks of the winery forms stone-like crusts, and is called by the
works-people by the name _tartarum_." It will be seen above that these
lees were rendered stronger by the action of fire, in which case the
tartar was reduced to potassium carbonate. The _weinstein_ of the old
German metallurgists was often the material lixiviated from the
incinerated tartar.

Dried lees of vinegar (_siccae feces aceti_; _Interpretatio_, _die heffe
des essigs_). This would also be crude tartar. Pliny (XXIII, 32) says:
"The lees of vinegar (_faex aceti_); owing to the more acrid material
are more aggravating in their effects.... When combined with
_melanthium_ it heals the bites of dogs and crocodiles."

[16] Dried lees of _aqua_ which separates gold and silver. (_Siccae
feces aquarum quae aurum ab argento secernunt_. German translation, _Der
scheidwasser heffe_). There is no pointed description in Agricola's
works, or in any other that we can find, as to what this material was.
The "separating _aqua_" was undoubtedly nitric acid (see p. 439, Book
X). There are two precipitates possible, both referred to as
_feces_,--the first, a precipitate of silver chloride from clarifying
the _aqua valens_, and the second, the residues left in making the acid
by distillation. It is difficult to believe that silver chloride was the
_feces_ referred to in the text, because such a precipitate would be
obviously misleading when used as a flux through the addition of silver
to the assays, too expensive, and of no merit for this purpose.
Therefore one is driven to the conclusion that the _feces_ must have
been the residues left in the retorts when nitric acid was prepared. It
would have been more in keeping with his usual mode of expression,
however, to have referred to this material as a _residuus_. The
materials used for making acid varied greatly, so there is no telling
what such a _feces_ contained. A list of possibilities is given in note
8, p. 443. In the main, the residue would be undigested vitriol, alum,
saltpetre, salt, etc., together with potassium, iron, and alum
sulphates. The _Probierbüchlin_ (p. 27) also gives this re-agent under
the term _Toden kopff das ist schlam oder feces auss dem scheydwasser_.

[17] _Recrementum vitri_. (_Interpretatio_, _Glassgallen_). Formerly,
when more impure materials were employed than nowadays, the surface of
the mass in the first melting of glass materials was covered with salts,
mostly potassium and sodium sulphates and chlorides which escaped
perfect vitrification. This "slag" or "_glassgallen_" of Agricola was
also termed _sandiver_.

[18] The whole of this expression is "_candidus, candido_." It is by no
means certain that this is tin, for usually tin is given as _plumbum

[19] _Sal artificiosus_. These are a sort of stock fluxes. Such mixtures
are common in all old assay books, from the _Probierbüchlin_ to later
than John Cramer in 1737 (whose Latin lectures on Assaying were
published in English under the title of "Elements of the Art of Assaying
Metals," London, 1741). Cramer observes (p. 51) that: "Artificers
compose a great many fluxes with the above-mentioned salts and with the
reductive ones; nay, some use as many different fluxes as there are
different ores and metals; all which, however, we think needless to
describe. It is better to have explained a few of the simpler ones,
which serve for all the others, and are very easily prepared, than to
tire the reader with confused compositions: and this chiefly because
unskilled artificers sometimes attempt to obtain with many ingredients
of the same nature heaped up beyond measure, and with much labour,
though not more properly and more securely, what might have been easily
effected, with one only and the same ingredient, thus increasing the
number, not at all the virtue of the things employed. Nevertheless, if
anyone loves variety, he may, according to the proportions and cautions
above prescribed, at his will chuse among the simpler kinds such as will
best suit his purpose, and compose a variety of fluxes with them."

[20] This operation apparently results in a coating to prevent the
deflagration of the saltpetre--in fact, it might be permitted to
translate _inflammatur_ "deflagrate," instead of kindle.

[21] The results which would follow from the use of these "fluxes" would
obviously depend upon the ore treated. They can all conceivably be
successful. Of these, the first is the lead-glass of the German
assayers--a flux much emphasized by all old authorities, including
Lohneys, Ercker and Cramner, and used even yet. The "powerful flux"
would be a reducing, desulphurizing, and an acid flux. The "more
powerful" would be a basic flux in which the reducing action of the
argols would be largely neutralised by the nitre. The "still more
powerful" would be a strongly sulphurizing basic flux, while the "most
powerful" would be a still more sulphurizing flux, but it is badly mixed
as to its oxidation and basic properties. (See also note 19 on _sal

[22] Lead ash (_Cinis Plumbi_. Glossary, _Pleyasch_).--This was
obviously, from the method of making, an artificial lead sulphide.

[23] Ashes of lead (_Nigri plumbi cinis_). This, as well as lead ash,
was also an artificial lead sulphide. Such substances were highly valued
by the Ancients for medicinal purposes. Dioscorides (V, 56) says:
"Burned lead (_Molybdos cecaumenos_) is made in this way: Sprinkle
sulphur over some very thinnest lead plates and put them into a new
earthen pot, add other layers, putting sulphur between each layer until
the pot is full; set it alight and stir the melted lead with an iron rod
until it is entirely reduced to ashes and until none of the lead remains
unburned. Then take it off, first stopping up your nose, because the
fumes of burnt lead are very injurious. Or burn the lead filings in a
pot with sulphur as aforesaid." Pliny (XXXIV., 50) gives much the same

[24] Camphor (_camphora_). This was no doubt the well-known gum.
Agricola, however, believed that camphor (_De Nat. Fossilium_, p. 224)
was a species of bitumen, and he devotes considerable trouble to the
refutation of the statements by the Arabic authors that it was a gum. In
any event, it would be a useful reducing agent.

[25] Inasmuch as orpiment and realgar are both arsenical sulphides, the
use of iron "slag," if it contains enough iron, would certainly matte
the sulphur and arsenic. Sulphur and arsenic are the "juices" referred
to (see note 4, p. 1). It is difficult to see the object of preserving
the antimony with such a sulphurizing "addition," unless it was desired
to secure a regulus of antimony alone from a given antimonial ore.

[26] The lead free from silver, called _villacense_, was probably from
Bleyberg, not far from Villach in Upper Austria, this locality having
been for centuries celebrated for its pure lead. These mines were worked
prior to, and long after, Agricola's time.

[27] This method of proportionate weights for assay charges is simpler
than the modern English "assay ton," both because of the use of 100
units in the standard of weight (the _centumpondium_), and because of
the lack of complication between the Avoirdupois and Troy scales. For
instance, an ore containing a _libra_ of silver to the _centumpondium_
would contain 1/100th part, and the same ratio would obtain, no matter
what the actual weight of a _centumpondium_ of the "lesser weight" might
be. To follow the matter still further, an _uncia_ being 1/1,200 of a
_centumpondium_, if the ore ran one "_uncia_ of the lesser weight" to
the "_centumpondium_ of the lesser weight," it would also run one actual
_uncia_ to the actual _centumpondium_; it being a matter of indifference
what might be the actual weight of the _centumpondium_ upon which the
scale of lesser weights is based. In fact Agricola's statement (p. 261)
indicates that it weighed an actual _drachma_. We have, in some places,
interpolated the expressions "lesser" and "greater" weights for clarity.

This is not the first mention of this scheme of lesser weights, as it
appears in the _Probierbüchlein_ (1500? see Appendix B) and Biringuccio
(1540). For a more complete discussion of weights and measures see
Appendix C. For convenience, we repeat here the Roman scale, although,
as will be seen in the Appendix, Agricola used the Latin terms in many
places merely as nomenclature equivalents of the old German scale.

                                         Troy                             gr.
                                        Grains.                per short ton.
    1 _Siliqua_                            2.87 Per _Centumpondium_  0   3  9
    6 _Siliquae_  =  1 _Scripulum_         17.2  "       "           1   0  6
    4 _Scripula_  =  1 _Sextula_           68.7  "       "           4   1  0
    6 _Sextulae_  =  1 _Uncia_            412.2  "       "          24   6  2
   12 _Unciae_    =  1 _Libra_           4946.4  "       "         291  13  8
  100 _Librae_    =  1 _Centumpondium_ 494640.0

However Agricola may occasionally use

   16 _Unciae_    =  1 _Libra_           6592.0 (?)
  100 _Librae_    =  1 _Centumpondium_ 659200.0 (?)


                                                                per short ton.
  1 _Scripulum_                            17.2 Per _Centumpondium_  1   0   6
  3 _Scripula_    =  1 _Drachma_           51.5  "        "          3   0  19
  2 _Drachmae_    =  1 _Sicilicus_        103.0  "        "          6   1  15
  4 _Sicilici_    =  1 _Uncia_            412.2  "        "         24   6  12
  8 _Unciae_      =  1 _Bes_             3297.6  "        "        194  12   0

[28] The amalgamation of gold ores is fully discussed in note 12, p.

[29] For discussion of the silver ores, see note 8, p. 108. _Rudis_
silver was a fairly pure silver mineral, the various coloured silvers
were partly horn-silver and partly alteration products.

[30] It is difficult to see why copper scales (_squamae aeris_--copper
oxide?) are added, unless it be to collect a small ratio of copper in
the ore. This additional copper is not mentioned again, however. The
whole of this statement is very confused.

[31] This old story runs that Hiero, King of Syracuse, asked Archimedes
to tell him whether a crown made for him was pure gold or whether it
contained some proportion of silver. Archimedes is said to have puzzled
over it until he noticed the increase in water-level upon entering his
bath. Whereupon he determined the matter by immersing bars of pure gold
and pure silver, and thus determining the relative specific weights. The
best ancient account of this affair is to be found in Vitruvius, IX,
Preface. The story does not seem very probable, seeing that
Theophrastus, who died the year Archimedes was born, described the
touchstone in detail, and that it was of common knowledge among the
Greeks before (see note 37). In any event, there is not sufficient
evidence in this story on which to build the conclusion of Meyer (Hist.
of Chemistry, p. 14) and others, that, inasmuch as Archimedes was unable
to solve the problem until his discovery of specific weights, therefore
the Ancients could not part gold and silver. The probability that he did
not want to injure the King's jewellery would show sufficient reason for
his not parting these metals. It seems probable that the Ancients did
part gold and silver by cementation. (See note on p. 458).

[32] The Alchemists (with whose works Agricola was familiar--_vide_
preface) were the inventors of nitric acid separation. (See note on p.

[33] Parting gold and silver by nitric acid is more exhaustively
discussed in Book X. and note 10, p. 443.

[34] The lesser weights, probably.

[35] Lead and Tin seem badly mixed in this paragraph.

[36] It is not clear what is added.

_Interpretatio_,--_Goldstein_). Theophrastus is, we believe, the first
to describe the touchstone, although it was generally known to the
Greeks, as is evidenced by the metaphors of many of the poets,--Pindar,
Theognis, Euripides, etc. The general knowledge of the constituents of
alloys which is implied, raises the question as to whether the Greeks
did not know a great deal more about parting metals, than has been
attributed to them. Theophrastus says (78-80): "The nature of the stone
which tries gold is also very wonderful, as it seems to have the same
power with fire; which is also a test of that metal. Some people have
for this reason questioned the truth of this power in the stone, but
their doubts are ill-founded, for this trial is not of the same nature
or made in the same manner as the other. The trial by fire is by the
colour and by the quantity lost by it; but that by the stone is made
only by rubbing the metal on it; the stone seeming to have the power to
receive separately the distinct particles of different metals. It is
said also that there is a much better kind of this stone now found out,
than that which was formerly used; insomuch that it now serves not only
for the trial of refined gold, but also of copper or silver coloured
with gold; and shows how much of the adulterating matter by weight is
mixed with gold; this has signs which it yields from the smallest weight
of the adulterating matter, which is a grain, from thence a colybus, and
thence a quadrans or semi-obolus, by which it is easy to distinguish if,
and in what degree, that metal is adulterated. All these stones are
found in the River Tmolus; their texture is smooth and like that of
pebbles; their figure broad, not round; and their bigness twice that of
the common larger sort of pebbles. In their use in the trial of metals
there is a difference in power between their upper surface, which has
lain toward the sun, and their under, which has been to the earth; the
upper performing its office the more nicely; and this is consonant to
reason, as the upper part is dryer; for the humidity of the other
surface hinders its receiving so well the particles of metals; for the
same reason also it does not perform its office as well in hot weather
as in colder, for in the hot it emits a kind of humidity out of its
substance, which runs all over it. This hinders the metalline particles
from adhering perfectly, and makes mistakes in the trials. This
exudation of a humid matter is also common to many other stones, among
others, to those of which statues are made; and this has been looked on
as peculiar to the statue." (Based on Hill's trans.) This humid
"exudation of fine-grained stones in summer" would not sound abnormal if
it were called condensation. Pliny (XXXIII, 43) says: "The mention of
gold and silver should be accompanied by that of the stone called
_coticula_. Formerly, according to Theophrastus, it was only to be found
in the river Tmolus but now found in many parts, it was found in small
pieces never over four inches long by two broad. That side which lay
toward the sun is better than that toward the ground. Those experienced
with the _coticula_ when they rub ore (_vena_) with it, can at once say
how much gold it contains, how much silver or copper. This method is so
accurate that they do not mistake it to a scruple." This purported use
for determining values of _ore_ is of about Pliny's average accuracy.
The first detailed account of touch-needles and their manner of making,
which we have been able to find, is that of the _Probierbüchlein_ (1527?
see Appendix) where many of the tables given by Agricola may be found.

[38] _De Natura Fossilium_ (p. 267) and _De Ortu et Causis
Subterraneorum_ (p. 59). The author does not add any material
mineralogical information to the quotations from Theophrastus and Pliny
given above.

[39] In these tables Agricola has simply adopted Roman names as
equivalents of the old German weights, but as they did not always
approximate in proportions, he coined terms such as "units of 4
_siliquae_," etc. It might seem more desirable to have introduced the
German terms into this text, but while it would apply in this instance,
as we have discussed on p. 259, the actual values of the Roman weights
are very different from the German, and as elsewhere in the book actual
Roman weights are applied, we have considered it better to use the Latin
terms consistently throughout. Further, the obsolete German would be to
most readers but little improvement upon the Latin. For convenience of
readers we set out the various scales as used by Agricola, together with
the German:--

            ROMAN SCALE.                   OLD GERMAN SCALE.
   6 _Siliquae_  = 1 _Scripulum_       3 _Grenlin_ = 1 _Gran_
   4 _Scripula_  = 1 _Sextula_         4 _Gran_    = 1 _Krat_
   2 _Sextulae_  = 1 _Duella_         24 _Kratt_   = 1 _Mark_
  24 _Duellae_   = 1 _Bes_                       or
                                      24 _Grenlin_ = 1  "_Nummus_"
                                      12 "_Nummi_" = 1 _Mark_

Also the following scales are applied to fineness by Agricola:--

   3 _Scripula_  = 1 _Drachma_       4 _Pfennige_  = 1 _Quintlein_
   2 _Drachmae_  = 1 _Sicilicus_     4 _Quintlein_ = 1 _Loth_
   2 _Sicilici_  = 1 _Semuncia_     16 _Loth_      = 1 _Mark_
  16 _Semunciae_ = 1 _Bes_

The term "_nummus_," a coin, given above and in the text, appears in the
German translation as _pfennig_ as applied to both German scales, but as
they are of different values, we have left Agricola's adaptation in one
scale to avoid confusion. The Latin terms adopted by Agricola are given
below, together with the German:--

                                                 Number in one  Value in
  Roman Term.               German Term.         Mark or Bes.   _Siliquae_.

  _Siliqua_                                          1152             1

  "Unit of 4 _Siliquae_"    _Grenlin_                 288             4

                            _Pfennig_                 256            --

  _Scripulum_               _Scruple_ (?)             192             6

  _Semi-sextula_            _Gran_                     96            12

  _Drachma_                 _Quintlein_                64            18

  _Sextula_                 _Halb Krat_                48            24

  _Sicilicus_               _Halb Loth_                32            36

  _Duella_                  _Krat_                     24            48

  _Semuncia_                _Loth_                     16            72

  "_Unit of 5 Drachmae      "_Nummus_"                 12            96
    & 1 Scripulum_"

  _Uncia_                   _Untzen_                    8           144

  _Bes_                     _Mark_                      1          1152

While the proportions in a _bes_ or _mark_ are the same in both scales,
the actual weight values are vastly different--for instance, the _mark_
contained about 3609.6, and the _bes_ 3297 Troy Grains. Agricola also

  _Selibra_          _Halb-pfundt_
  _Libra_            _Pfundt_
  _Centumpondium_    _Centner_.

As the Roman _libra_ contains 12 _unciae_ and the German _pfundt_ 16
_untzen_, the actual weights of these latter quantities are still
further apart--the former 4946 and the latter 7219 Troy grains.

[40] There are no tables in the Latin text, the whole having been
written out _in extenso_, but they have now been arranged as above, as
being in a much more convenient and expressive form.

[41] See note 39 above.

[42] See note 27, p. 242, for discussion of this "Assay ton"

[43] _Agrippinenses_ and _Antuerpiani_.


Questions of assaying were explained in the last Book, and I have now
come to a greater task, that is, to the description of how we extract
the metals. First of all I will explain the method of preparing the
ore[1]; for since Nature usually creates metals in an impure state,
mixed with earth, stones, and solidified juices, it is necessary to
separate most of these impurities from the ores as far as can be, before
they are smelted, and therefore I will now describe the methods by which
the ores are sorted, broken with hammers, burnt, crushed with stamps,
ground into powder, sifted, washed, roasted, and calcined[2].

I will start at the beginning with the first sort of work. Experienced
miners, when they dig the ore, sort the metalliferous material from
earth, stones, and solidified juices before it is taken from the shafts
and tunnels, and they put the valuable metal in trays and the waste into
buckets. But if some miner who is inexperienced in mining matters has
omitted to do this, or even if some experienced miner, compelled by some
unavoidable necessity, has been unable to do so, as soon as the material
which has been dug out has been removed from the mine, all of it should
be examined, and that part of the ore which is rich in metal sorted from
that part of it which is devoid of metal, whether such part be earth, or
solidified juices, or stones. To smelt waste together with an ore
involves a loss, for some expenditure is thrown away, seeing that out of
earth and stones only empty and useless slags are melted out, and
further, the solidified juices also impede the smelting of the metals
and cause loss. The rock which lies contiguous to rich ore should also
be broken into small pieces, crushed, and washed, lest any of the
mineral should be lost. When, either through ignorance or carelessness,
the miners while excavating have mixed the ore with earth or broken
rock, the work of sorting the crude metal or the best ore is done not
only by men, but also by boys and women. They throw the mixed material
upon a long table, beside which they sit for almost the whole day, and
they sort out the ore; when it has been sorted out, they collect it in
trays, and when collected they throw it into tubs, which are carried to
the works in which the ores are smelted.

[Illustration 268 (Sorting Ore): A--Long table. B--Tray. C--Tub.]

[Illustration 269 (Cutting Metal): A--Masses of metal. B--Hammer.
C--Chisel. D--Tree stumps. E--Iron tool similar to a pair of shears.]

The metal which is dug out in a pure or crude state, to which class
belong native silver, silver glance, and gray silver, is placed on a
stone by the mine foreman and flattened out by pounding with heavy
square hammers. These masses, when they have been thus flattened out
like plates, are placed either on the stump of a tree, and cut into
pieces by pounding an iron chisel into them with a hammer, or else they
are cut with an iron tool similar to a pair of shears. One blade of
these shears is three feet long, and is firmly fixed in a stump, and the
other blade which cuts the metal is six feet long. These pieces of
metal are afterward heated in iron basins and smelted in the cupellation
furnace by the smelters.

[Illustration 270 (Spalling Ore): A--Tables. B--Upright planks.
C--Hammer. D--Quadrangular hammer. E--Deeper vessel. F--Shallower
vessel. G--Iron rod.]

Although the miners, in the shafts or tunnels, have sorted over the
material which they mine, still the ore which has been broken down and
carried out must be broken into pieces by a hammer or minutely crushed,
so that the more valuable and better parts can be distinguished from the
inferior and worthless portions. This is of the greatest importance in
smelting ore, for if the ore is smelted without this separation, the
valuable part frequently receives great damage before the worthless part
melts in the fire, or else the one consumes the other; this latter
difficulty can, however, be partly avoided by the exercise of care and
partly by the use of fluxes. Now, if a vein is of poor quality, the
better portions which have been broken down and carried out should be
thrown together in one place, and the inferior portion and the rock
thrown away. The sorters place a hard broad stone on a table; the tables
are generally four feet square and made of joined planks, and to the
edge of the sides and back are fixed upright planks, which rise about a
foot from the table; the front, where the sorter sits, is left open. The
lumps of ore, rich in gold or silver, are put by the sorters on the
stone and broken up with a broad, but not thick, hammer; they either
break them into pieces and throw them into one vessel, or they break and
sort--whence they get their name--the more precious from the worthless,
throwing and collecting them separately into different vessels. Other
men crush the lumps of ore less rich in gold or silver, which have
likewise been put on the stone, with a broad thick hammer, and when it
has been well crushed, they collect it and throw it into one vessel.
There are two kinds of vessels; one is deeper, and a little wider in the
centre than at the top or bottom; the other is not so deep though it is
broader at the bottom, and becomes gradually a little narrower toward
the top. The latter vessel is covered with a lid, while the former is
not covered; an iron rod through the handles, bent over on either end,
is grasped in the hand when the vessel is carried. But, above all, it
behooves the sorters to be assiduous in their labours.

[Illustration 271 (Spalling Ore): A--Pyrites. B--Leggings. C--Gloves.

By another method of breaking ore with hammers, large hard fragments of
ore are broken before they are burned. The legs of the workmen--at all
events of those who crush pyrites in this manner with large hammers in
Goslar--are protected with coverings resembling leggings, and their
hands are protected with long gloves, to prevent them from being
injured by the chips which fly away from the fragments.

[Illustration 272 (Spalling Ore): A--Area paved with stones. B--Broken
ore. C--Area covered with broken ore. D--Iron tool. E--Its handle.
F--Broom. G--Short strake. H--Wooden hoe.]

In that district of Greater Germany which is called Westphalia and in
that district of Lower Germany which is named Eifel, the broken ore
which has been burned, is thrown by the workmen into a round area paved
with the hardest stones, and the fragments are pounded up with iron
tools, which are very much like hammers in shape and are used like
threshing sledges. This tool is a foot long, a palm wide, and a digit
thick, and has an opening in the middle just as hammers have, in which
is fixed a wooden handle of no great thickness, but up to three and a
half feet long, in order that the workmen can pound the ore with greater
force by reason of its weight falling from a greater height. They strike
and pound with the broad side of the tool, in the same way as corn is
pounded out on a threshing floor with the threshing sledges, although
the latter are made of wood and are smooth and fixed to poles. When the
ore has been broken into small pieces, they sweep it together with
brooms and remove it to the works, where it is washed in a short
strake, at the head of which stands the washer, who draws the water
upward with a wooden hoe. The water running down again, carries all the
light particles into a trough placed underneath. I shall deal more fully
with this method of washing a little later.

Ore is burned for two reasons; either that from being hard, it may
become soft and more easily broken and more readily crushed with a
hammer or stamps, and then can be smelted; or that the fatty things,
that is to say, sulphur, bitumen, orpiment, or realgar[3] may be
consumed. Sulphur is frequently found in metallic ores, and, generally
speaking, is more harmful to the metals, except gold, than are the other
things. It is most harmful of all to iron, and less to tin than to
bismuth, lead, silver, or copper. Since very rarely gold is found in
which there is not some silver, even gold ores containing sulphur ought
to be roasted before they are smelted, because, in a very vigorous
furnace fire, sulphur resolves metal into ashes and makes slag of it.
Bitumen acts in the same way, in fact sometimes it consumes silver,
which we may see in bituminous _cadmia_[4].

[Illustration 274 (Stall Roasting Ore): A--Area. B--Wood. C--Ore.
D--Cone-shaped piles. E--Canal.]

I now come to the methods of roasting, and first of all to that one
which is common to all ores. The earth is dug out to the required
extent, and thus is made a quadrangular area of fair size, open at the
front, and above this, firewood is laid close together, and on it other
wood is laid transversely, likewise close together, for which reason our
countrymen call this pile of wood a crate; this is repeated until the
pile attains a height of one or two cubits. Then there is placed upon it
a quantity of ore that has been broken into small pieces with a hammer;
first the largest of these pieces, next those of medium size, and lastly
the smallest, and thus is built up a gently sloping cone. To prevent it
from becoming scattered, fine sand of the same ore is soaked with water
and smeared over it and beaten on with shovels; some workers, if they
cannot obtain such fine sand, cover the pile with charcoal-dust, just as
do charcoal-burners. But at Goslar, the pile, when it has been built up
in the form of a cone, is smeared with _atramentum sutorium rubrum_[5],
which is made by the leaching of roasted pyrites soaked with water. In
some districts the ore is roasted once, in others twice, in others three
times, as its hardness may require. At Goslar, when pyrites is roasted
for the third time, that which is placed on the top of the pyre exudes a
certain greenish, dry, rough, thin substance, as I have elsewhere
written[6]; this is no more easily burned by the fire than is asbestos.
Very often also, water is put on to the ore which has been roasted,
while it is still hot, in order to make it softer and more easily
broken; for after fire has dried up the moisture in the ore, it breaks
up more easily while it is still hot, of which fact burnt limestone
affords the best example.

[Illustration 275 (Heap Roasting Ore): A--Lighted pyre. B--Pyre which is
being constructed. C--Ore. D--Wood. E--Pile of the same wood.]

By digging out the earth they make the areas much larger, and square;
walls should be built along the sides and back to hold the heat of the
fire more effectively, and the front should be left open. In these
compartments tin ore is roasted in the following manner. First of all
wood about twelve feet long should be laid in the area in four layers,
alternately straight and transverse. Then the larger pieces of ore
should be laid upon them, and on these again the smaller ones, which
should also be placed around the sides; the fine sand of the same ore
should also be spread over the pile and pounded with shovels, to prevent
the pile from falling before it has been roasted; the wood should then
be fired.

[Illustration 276 (Stall Roasting Ore): A--Burning pyre which is
composed of lead ore with wood placed above it. B--Workman throwing ore
into another area. C--Oven-shaped furnace. D--Openings through which the
smoke escapes.]

Lead ore, if roasting is necessary, should be piled in an area just like
the last, but sloping, and the wood should be placed over it. A tree
trunk should be laid right across the front of the ore to prevent it
from falling out. The ore, being roasted in this way, becomes partly
melted and resembles slag. Thuringian pyrites, in which there is gold,
sulphur, and vitriol, after the last particle of vitriol has been
obtained by heating it in water, is thrown into a furnace, in which logs
are placed. This furnace is very similar to an oven in shape, in order
that when the ore is roasted the valuable contents may not fly away with
the smoke, but may adhere to the roof of the furnace. In this way
sulphur very often hangs like icicles from the two openings of the roof
through which the smoke escapes.

[Illustration 277 (Hearths for roasting): A--Iron plates full of holes.
B--Walls. C--Plate on which ore is placed. D--Burning charcoal placed on
the ore. E--Pots. F--Furnace. G--Middle part of upper chamber. H--The
other two compartments. I--Divisions of the lower chamber. K--Middle
wall. L--Pots which are filled with ore. M--Lids of same pots.

If pyrites or _cadmia_, or any other ore containing metal, possesses a
good deal of sulphur or bitumen, it should be so roasted that neither is
lost. For this purpose it is thrown on an iron plate full of holes, and
roasted with charcoal placed on top; three walls support this plate, two
on the sides and the third at the back. Beneath the plate are placed
pots containing water, into which the sulphurous or bituminous vapour
descends, and in the water the fat accumulates and floats on the top. If
it is sulphur, it is generally of a yellow colour; if bitumen, it is
black like pitch. If these were not drawn out they would do much harm to
the metal, when the ore is being smelted. When they have thus been
separated they prove of some service to man, especially the sulphurous
kind. From the vapour which is carried down, not into the water, but
into the ground, there is created a sulphurous or a bituminous substance
resembling _pompholyx_[7], and so light that it can be blown away with a
breath. Some employ a vaulted furnace, open at the front and divided
into two chambers. A wall built in the middle of the furnace divides the
lower chamber into two equal parts, in which are set pots containing
water, as above described. The upper chamber is again divided into three
parts, the middle one of which is always open, for in it the wood is
placed, and it is not broader than the middle wall, of which it forms
the topmost portion. The other two compartments have iron doors which
are closed, and which, together with the roof, keep in the heat when the
wood is lighted. In these upper compartments are iron bars which take
the place of a floor, and on these are arranged pots without bottoms,
having in place of a bottom, a grating made of iron wire, fixed to each,
through the openings of which the sulphurous or bituminous vapours
roasted from the ore run into the lower pots. Each of the upper pots
holds a hundred pounds of ore; when they are filled they are covered
with lids and smeared with lute.

[Illustration 278 (Heap Roasting): A--Heap of cupriferous stones.
B--Kindled heap. C--Stones being taken to the beds of faggots.]

In Eisleben and the neighbourhood, when they roast the schistose stone
from which copper is smelted, and which is not free from bitumen, they
do not use piles of logs, but bundles of faggots. At one time, they used
to pile this kind of stone, when extracted from the pit, on bundles of
faggots and roast it by firing the faggots; nowadays, they first of all
carry these same stones to a heap, where they are left to lie for some
time in such a way as to allow the air and rain to soften them. Then
they make a bed of faggot bundles near the heap, and carry the nearest
stones to this bed; afterward they again place bundles of faggots in the
empty place from which the first stones have been removed, and pile over
this extended bed, the stones which lay nearest to the first lot; and
they do this right up to the end, until all the stones have been piled
mound-shape on a bed of faggots. Finally they fire the faggots, not,
however, on the side where the wind is blowing, but on the opposite
side, lest the fire blown up by the force of the wind should consume the
faggots before the stones are roasted and made soft; by this method the
stones which are adjacent to the faggots take fire and communicate it to
the next ones, and these again to the adjoining ones, and in this way
the heap very often burns continuously for thirty days or more. This
schist rock when rich in copper, as I have said elsewhere, exudes a
substance of a nature similar to asbestos.

[Illustration 284 (Stamp-mill): A--Mortar. B--Upright posts.
C--Cross-beams. D--Stamps. E--Their heads. F--Axle (cam-shaft). G--Tooth
of the stamp (tappet). H--Teeth of axle (cams).]

Ore is crushed with iron-shod stamps, in order that the metal may be
separated from the stone and the hangingwall rock.[8] The machines which
miners use for this purpose are of four kinds, and are made by the
following method. A block of oak timber six feet long, two feet and a
palm square, is laid on the ground. In the middle of this is fixed a
mortar-box, two feet and six digits long, one foot and six digits deep;
the front, which might be called a mouth, lies open; the bottom is
covered with a plate of iron, a palm thick and two palms and as many
digits wide, each end of which is wedged into the timber with broad
wedges, and the front and back part of it are fixed to the timber with
iron nails. To the sides of the mortar above the block are fixed two
upright posts, whose upper ends are somewhat cut back and are mortised
to the timbers of the building. Two and a half feet above the mortar
are placed two cross-beams joined together, one in front and one in the
back, the ends of which are mortised into the upright posts already
mentioned. Through each mortise is bored a hole, into which is driven an
iron clavis; one end of the clavis has two horns, and the other end is
perforated in order that a wedge driven through, binds the beams more
firmly; one horn of the clavis turns up and the other down. Three and a
half feet above the cross-beams, two other cross-beams of the same kind
are again joined in a similar manner; these cross-beams have square
openings, in which the iron-shod stamps are inserted. The stamps are not
far distant from each other, and fit closely in the cross-beams. Each
stamp has a tappet at the back, which requires to be daubed with grease
on the lower side that it can be raised more easily. For each stamp
there are on a cam-shaft, two cams, rounded on the outer end, which
alternately raise the stamp, in order that, by its dropping into the
mortar, it may with its iron head pound and crush the rock which has
been thrown under it. To the cam-shaft is fixed a water-wheel whose
buckets are turned by water-power. Instead of doors, the mouth of the
mortar has a board, which is fitted into notches cut out of the front of
the block. This board can be raised, in order that when the mouth is
open, the workmen can remove with a shovel the fine sand, and likewise
the coarse sand and broken rock, into which the rocks have been crushed;
this board can be lowered, so that the mouth thus being closed, the
fresh rock thrown in may be crushed with the iron-shod stamps. If an oak
block is not available, two timbers are placed on the ground and joined
together with iron clamps, each of the timbers being six feet long, a
foot wide, and a foot and a half thick. Such depth as should be allowed
to the mortar, is obtained by cutting out the first beam to a width of
three-quarters of a foot and to a length of two and a third and one
twenty-fourth of a foot. In the bottom of the part thus dug out, there
should be laid a very hard rock, a foot thick and three-quarters of a
foot wide; about it, if any space remains, earth or sand should be
filled in and pounded. On the front, this bed rock is covered with a
plank; this rock when it has been broken, should be taken away and
replaced by another. A smaller mortar having room for only three stamps
may also be made in the same manner.

[Illustration 285 (Stamps): A--Stamp. B--Stem cut out in lower part.
C--Shoe. D--The other shoe, barbed and grooved. E--Quadrangular iron
band. F--Wedge. G--Tappet. H--Angular cam-shaft. I--Cams. K--Pair of

The stamp-stems are made of small square timbers nine feet long and half
a foot wide each way. The iron head of each is made in the following
way; the lower part of the head is three palms long and the upper part
the same length. The lower part is a palm square in the middle for two
palms, then below this, for a length of two digits it gradually spreads
until it becomes five digits square; above the middle part, for a length
of two digits, it again gradually swells out until it becomes a palm and
a half square. Higher up, where the head of the shoe is enclosed in the
stem, it is bored through and similarly the stem itself is pierced, and
through the opening of each, there passes a broad iron wedge, which
prevents the head falling off the stem. To prevent the stamp head from
becoming broken by the constant striking of fragments of ore or rocks,
there is placed around it a quadrangular iron band a digit thick, seven
digits wide, and six digits deep. Those who use three stamps, as is
common, make them much larger, and they are made square and three palms
broad each way; then the iron shoe of each has a total length of two
feet and a palm; at the lower end, it is hexagonal, and at that point it
is seven digits wide and thick. The lower part of it which projects
beyond the stem is one foot and two palms long; the upper part, which is
enclosed in the stem, is three palms long; the lower part is a palm
wide and thick; then gradually the upper part becomes narrower and
thinner, so that at the top it is three digits and a half wide and two
thick. It is bored through at the place where the angles have been
somewhat cut away; the hole is three digits long and one wide, and is
one digit's distance from the top. There are some who make that part of
the head which is enclosed in the stem, barbed and grooved, in order
that when the hooks have been fixed into the stem and wedges fitted to
the grooves, it may remain tightly fixed, especially when it is also
held with two quadrangular iron bands. Some divide the cam-shaft with a
compass into six sides, others into nine; it is better for it to be
divided into twelve sides, in order that successively one side may
contain a cam and the next be without one.

[Illustration 286 (Stamp-mill): A--Box. Although the upper part is not
open, it is shown open here, that the wheel may be seen. B--Wheel.
C--Cam-shaft. D--Stamps.]

The water-wheel is entirely enclosed under a quadrangular box, in case
either the deep snows or ice in winter, or storms, may impede its
running and its turning around. The joints in the planks are stopped all
around with moss. The cover, however, has one opening, through which
there passes a race bringing down water which, dropping on the buckets
of the wheel, turns it round, and flows out again in the lower race
under the box. The spokes of the water-wheel are not infrequently
mortised into the middle of the cam-shaft; in this case the cams on
both sides raise the stamps, which either both crush dry or wet ore, or
else the one set crushes dry ore and the other set wet ore, just as
circumstances require the one or the other; further, when the one set is
raised and the iron clavises in them are fixed into openings in the
first cross-beam, the other set alone crushes the ore.

[Illustration 287 (Handling stamped material): A--Box laid flat on the
ground. B--Its bottom which is made of iron wire. C--Box inverted.
D--Iron rods. E--Box suspended from a beam, the inside being visible.
F--Box suspended from a beam, the outside being visible.]

Broken rock or stones, or the coarse or fine sand, are removed from the
mortar of this machine and heaped up, as is also done with the same
materials when raked out of the dump near the mine. They are thrown by a
workman into a box, which is open on the top and the front, and is three
feet long and nearly a foot and a half wide. Its sides are sloping and
made of planks, but its bottom is made of iron wire netting, and
fastened with wire to two iron rods, which are fixed to the two side
planks. This bottom has openings, through which broken rock of the size
of a hazel nut cannot pass; the pieces which are too large to pass
through are removed by the workman, who again places them under stamps,
while those which have passed through, together with the coarse and fine
sand, he collects in a large vessel and keeps for the washing. When he
is performing his laborious task he suspends the box from a beam by two
ropes. This box may rightly be called a quadrangular sieve, as may also
that kind which follows.

[Illustration 288 (Sifting Ore): A--Sieve. B--Small planks. C--Post.
D--Bottom of sieve. E--Open box. F--Small cross-beam. G--Upright posts.]

Some employ a sieve shaped like a wooden bucket, bound with two iron
hoops; its bottom, like that of the box, is made of iron wire netting.
They place this on two small cross-planks fixed upon a post set in the
ground. Some do not fix the post in the ground, but stand it on the
ground until there arises a heap of the material which has passed
through the sieve, and in this the post is fixed. With an iron shovel
the workman throws into this sieve broken rock, small stones, coarse and
fine sand raked out of the dump; holding the handles of the sieve in his
hands, he agitates it up and down in order that by this movement the
dust, fine and coarse sand, small stones, and fine broken rock may fall
through the bottom. Others do not use a sieve, but an open box, whose
bottom is likewise covered with wire netting; this they fix on a small
cross-beam fastened to two upright beams and tilt it backward and

[Illustration 289 (Sifting Ore): A--Box. B--Bale. C--Rope. D--Beam.
E--Handles. F--Five-toothed rake. G--Sieve. H--Its handles. I--Pole.
K--Rope. L--Timber.]

Some use a sieve made of copper, having square copper handles on both
sides, and through these handles runs a pole, of which one end projects
three-quarters of a foot beyond one handle; the workman then places that
end in a rope which is suspended from a beam, and rapidly shakes the
pole alternately backward and forward. By this movement the small
particles fall through the bottom of the sieve. In order that the end of
the pole may be easily placed in the rope, a stick, two palms long,
holds open the lower part of the rope as it hangs double, each end of
the rope being tied to the beam; part of the rope, however, hangs beyond
the stick to a length of half a foot. A large box is also used for this
purpose, of which the bottom is either made of a plank full of holes or
of iron netting, as are the other boxes. An iron bale is fastened from
the middle of the planks which form its sides; to this bale is fastened
a rope which is suspended from a wooden beam, in order that the box may
be moved or tilted in any direction. There are two handles on each end,
not unlike the handles of a wheelbarrow; these are held by two workmen,
who shake the box to and fro. This box is the one principally used by
the Germans who dwell in the Carpathian mountains. The smaller particles
are separated from the larger ones by means of three boxes and two
sieves, in order that those which pass through each, being of equal
size, may be washed together; for the bottoms of both the boxes and
sieves have openings which do not let through broken rock of the size of
a hazel nut. As for the dry remnants in the bottoms of the sieves, if
they contain any metal the miners put them under the stamps. The larger
pieces of broken rock are not separated from the smaller by this method
until the men and boys, with five-toothed rakes, have separated them
from the rock fragments, the little stones, the coarse and the fine sand
and earth, which have been thrown on to the dumps.

[Illustration 291 (Sifting Ore): A--Workman carrying broken rock in a
barrow. B--First chute. C--First box. D--Its handles. E--Its bales.
F--Rope. G--Beam. H--Post. I--Second chute. K--Second box. L--Third
chute. M--Third box. N--First table. O--First sieve. P--First tub.
Q--Second table. R--Second sieve. S--Second tub. T--Third table.
V--Third sieve. X--Third tub. Y--Plugs.]

At Neusohl, in the Carpathians, there are mines where the veins of
copper lie in the ridges and peaks of the mountains, and in order to
save expense being incurred by a long and difficult transport, along a
rough and sometimes very precipitous road, one workman sorts over the
dumps which have been thrown out from the mines, and another carries in
a wheelbarrow the earth, fine and coarse sand, little stones, broken
rock, and even the poorer ore, and overturns the barrow into a long open
chute fixed to a steep rock. This chute is held apart by small cleats,
and the material slides down a distance of about one hundred and fifty
feet into a short box, whose bottom is made of a thick copper plate,
full of holes. This box has two handles by which it is shaken to and
fro, and at the top there are two bales made of hazel sticks, in which
is fixed the iron hook of a rope hung from the branch of a tree or from
a wooden beam which projects from an upright post. From time to time a
sifter pulls this box and thrusts it violently against the tree or post,
by which means the small particles passing through its holes descend
down another chute into another short box, in whose bottom there are
smaller holes. A second sifter, in like manner, thrusts this box
violently against a tree or post, and a second time the smaller
particles are received into a third chute, and slide down into a third
box, whose bottom has still smaller holes. A third sifter, in like
manner, thrusts this box violently against a tree or post, and for the
third time the tiny particles fall through the holes upon a table. While
the workman is bringing in the barrow, another load which has been
sorted from the dump, each sifter withdraws the hooks from his bale and
carries away his own box and overturns it, heaping up the broken rock or
sand which remains in the bottom of it. As for the tiny particles which
have slid down upon the table, the first washer--for there are as many
washers as sifters--sweeps them off and in a tub nearly full of water,
washes them through a sieve whose holes are smaller than the holes of
the third box. When this tub has been filled with the material which has
passed through the sieve, he draws out the plug to let the water run
away; then he removes with a shovel that which has settled in the tub
and throws it upon the table of a second washer, who washes it in a
sieve with smaller holes. The sediment which has this time settled in
his tub, he takes out and throws on the table of a third washer, who
washes it in a sieve with the smallest holes. The copper concentrates
which have settled in the last tub are taken out and smelted; the
sediment which each washer has removed with a limp is washed on a canvas
strake. The sifters at Altenberg, in the tin mines of the mountains
bordering on Bohemia, use such boxes as I have described, hung from
wooden beams. These, however, are a little larger and open in the front,
through which opening the broken rock which has not gone through the
sieve can be shaken out immediately by thrusting the sieve against its

[Illustration 292 (Sifting Ore): A--Sieve. B--Its handles. C--Tub.
D--Bottom of sieve made of iron wires. E--Hoop. F--Rods. G--Hoops.
H--Woman shaking the sieve. I--Boy supplying it with material which
requires washing. K--Man with shovel removing from the tub the material
which has passed through the sieve.]

If the ore is rich in metal, the earth, the fine and coarse sand, and
the pieces of rock which have been broken from the hangingwall, are dug
out of the dump with a spade or rake and, with a shovel, are thrown into
a large sieve or basket, and washed in a tub nearly full of water. The
sieve is generally a cubit broad and half a foot deep; its bottom has
holes of such size that the larger pieces of broken rock cannot pass
through them, for this material rests upon the straight and cross iron
wires, which at their points of contact are bound by small iron clips.
The sieve is held together by an iron band and by two cross-rods
likewise of iron; the rest of the sieve is made of staves in the shape
of a little tub, and is bound with two iron hoops; some, however, bind
it with hoops of hazel or oak, but in that case they use three of them.
On each side it has handles, which are held in the hands by whoever
washes the metalliferous material. Into this sieve a boy throws the
material to be washed, and a woman shakes it up and down, turning it
alternately to the right and to the left, and in this way passes
through it the smaller pieces of earth, sand, and broken rock. The
larger pieces remain in the sieve, and these are taken out, placed in a
heap and put under the stamps. The mud, together with fine sand, coarse
sand, and broken rock, which remain after the water has been drawn out
of the tub, is removed by an iron shovel and washed in the sluice, about
which I will speak a little later.

[Illustration 293 (Sifting Ore): A--Basket. B--Its handles. C--Dish.
D--Its back part. E--Its front part. F--Handles of same.]

The Bohemians use a basket a foot and a half broad and half a foot deep,
bound together by osiers. It has two handles by which it is grasped,
when they move it about and shake it in the tub or in a small pool
nearly full of water. All that passes through it into the tub or pool
they take out and wash in a bowl, which is higher in the back part and
lower and flat in the front; it is grasped by the two handles and shaken
in the water, the lighter particles flowing away, and the heavier and
mineral portion sinking to the bottom.

[Illustration 294 (Mills for Grinding Ore): A--Axle. B--Water-wheel.
C--Toothed drum. D--Drum made of rundles. E--Iron axle. F--Millstone.
G--Hopper. H--Round wooden plate. I--Trough.]

Gold ore, after being broken with hammers or crushed by the stamps, and
even tin ore, is further milled to powder. The upper millstone, which
is turned by water-power, is made in the following way. An axle is
rounded to compass measure, or is made angular, and its iron pinions
turn in iron sockets which are held in beams. The axle is turned by a
water-wheel, the buckets of which are fixed to the rim and are struck by
the force of a stream. Into the axle is mortised a toothed drum, whose
teeth are fixed in the side of the rim. These teeth turn a second drum
of rundles, which are made of very hard material. This drum surrounds an
iron axle which has a pinion at the bottom and revolves in an iron cup
in a timber. At the top of the iron axle is an iron tongue, dove-tailed
into the millstone, and so when the teeth of the one drum turn the
rundles of the other, the millstone is made to turn round. An
overhanging machine supplies it with ore through a hopper, and the ore,
being ground to powder, is discharged from a round wooden plate into a
trough and flowing away through it accumulates on the floor; from there
the ore is carried away and reserved for washing. Since this method of
grinding requires the millstone to be now raised and now lowered, the
timber in whose socket the iron of the pinion axle revolves, rests upon
two beams, which can be raised and lowered.

[Illustration 296 (Mills for Grinding Ore): A--First mill. B--Wheel
turned by goats. C--Second mill. D--Disc of upright axle. E--Its toothed
drum. F--Third mill. G--Shape of lower millstone. H--Small upright axle
of the same. I--Its opening. K--Lever of the upper millstone. L--Its

There are three mills in use in milling gold ores, especially for
quartz[11] which is not lacking in metal. They are not all turned by
water-power, but some by the strength of men, and two of them even by
the power of beasts of burden. The first revolving one differs from the
next only in its driving wheel, which is closed in and turned by men
treading it, or by horses, which are placed inside, or by asses, or even
by strong goats; the eyes of these beasts are covered by linen bands.
The second mill, both when pushed and turned round, differs from the two
above by having an upright axle in the place of the horizontal one; this
axle has at its lower end a disc, which two workmen turn by treading
back its cleats with their feet, though frequently one man sustains all
the labour; or sometimes there projects from the axle a pole which is
turned by a horse or an ass, for which reason it is called an
_asinaria_. The toothed drum which is at the upper end of the axle turns
the drum which is made of rundles, and together with it the millstone.

The third mill is turned round and round, and not pushed by hand; but
between this and the others there is a great distinction, for the lower
millstone is so shaped at the top that it can hold within it the upper
millstone, which revolves around an iron axle; this axle is fastened in
the centre of the lower stone and passes through the upper stone. A
workman, by grasping in his hand an upright iron bar placed in the upper
millstone, moves it round. The middle of the upper millstone is bored
through, and the ore, being thrown into this opening, falls down upon
the lower millstone and is there ground to powder, which gradually runs
out through its opening; it is washed by various methods before it is
mixed with quicksilver, which I will explain presently.

[Illustration 299 (Stamp-mill): A--Water-wheel. B--Axle. C--Stamp.
D--Hopper in the upper millstone. E--Opening passing through the centre.
F--Lower millstone. G--Its round depression. H--Its outlet. I--Iron
axle. K--Its crosspiece. L--Beam. M--Drum of rundles on the iron axle.
N--Toothed drum of main axle. O--Tubs. P--The small planks. Q--Small
upright axles. R--Enlarged part of one. S--Their paddles. T--Their drums
which are made of rundles. V--Small horizontal axle set into the end of
the main axle. X--Its toothed drums. Y--Three sluices. Z--Their small
axles. AA--Spokes. BB--Paddles.]

Some people build a machine which at one and the same time can crush,
grind, cleanse, and wash the gold ore, and mix the gold with
quicksilver. This machine has one water-wheel, which is turned by a
stream striking its buckets; the main axle on one side of the
water-wheel has long cams, which raise the stamps that crush the dry
ore. Then the crushed ore is thrown into the hopper of the upper
millstone, and gradually falling through the opening, is ground to
powder. The lower millstone is square, but has a round depression in
which the round, upper millstone turns, and it has an outlet from which
the powder falls into the first tub. A vertical iron axle is dove-tailed
into a cross-piece, which is in turn fixed into the upper millstone; the
upper pinion of this axle is held in a bearing fixed in a beam; the drum
of the vertical axle is made of rundles, and is turned by the toothed
drum on the main axle, and thus turns the millstone. The powder falls
continually into the first tub, together with water, and from there runs
into a second tub which is set lower down, and out of the second into a
third, which is the lowest; from the third, it generally flows into a
small trough hewn out of a tree trunk. Quicksilver[12] is placed in
each tub, across which is fixed a small plank, and through a hole in the
middle of each plank there passes a small upright axle, which is
enlarged above the plank to prevent it from dropping into the tub lower
than it should. At the lower end of the axle three sets of paddles
intersect, each made from two little boards fixed to the axle opposite
each other. The upper end of this axle has a pinion held by a bearing
set in a beam, and around each of these axles is a small drum made of
rundles, each of which is turned by a small toothed drum on a horizontal
axle, one end of which is mortised into the large horizontal axle, and
the other end is held in a hollow covered with thick iron plates in a
beam. Thus the paddles, of which there are three sets in each tub, turn
round, and agitating the powder, thoroughly mix it with water and
separate the minute particles of gold from it, and these are attracted
by the quicksilver and purified. The water carries away the waste. The
quicksilver is poured into a bag made of leather or cloth woven from
cotton, and when this bag is squeezed, as I have described elsewhere,
the quicksilver drips through it into a jar placed underneath. The pure
gold[13] remains in the bag. Some people substitute three broad sluices
for the tubs, each of which has an angular axle on which are set six
narrow spokes, and to them are fixed the same number of broad paddles;
the water that is poured in strikes these paddles and turns them round,
and they agitate the powder which is mixed with the water and separate
the metal from it. If the powder which is being treated contains gold
particles, the first method of washing is far superior, because the
quicksilver in the tubs immediately attracts the gold; if it is powder
in which are the small black stones from which tin is smelted, this
latter method is not to be despised. It is very advantageous to place
interlaced fir boughs in the sluices in which such tin-stuff is washed,
after it has run through the launders from the mills, because the fine
tin-stone is either held back by the twigs, or if the current carries
them along they fall away from the water and settle down.

Seven methods of washing are in common use for the ores of many metals;
for they are washed either in a simple buddle, or in a divided buddle,
or in an ordinary strake, or in a large tank, or in a short strake, or
in a canvas strake, or in a jigging sieve. Other methods of washing are
either peculiar to some particular metal, or are combined with the
method of crushing wet ore by stamps.

[Illustration 301 (Buddles): A--Head of buddle. B--Pipe. C--Buddle.
D--Board. E--Transverse buddle. F--Shovel. G--Scrubber.]

A simple buddle is made in the following way. In the first place, the
head is higher than the rest of the buddle, and is three feet long and a
foot and a half broad; this head is made of planks laid upon a timber
and fastened, and on both sides, side-boards are set up so as to hold
the water, which flows in through a pipe or trough, so that it shall
fall straight down. The middle of the head is somewhat depressed in
order that the broken rock and the larger metallic particles may settle
into it. The buddle is sunk into the earth to a depth of three-quarters
of a foot below the head, and is twelve feet long and a foot and a half
wide and deep; the bottom and each side are lined with planks to prevent
the earth, when it is softened by the water, from falling in or from
absorbing the metallic particles. The lower end of the buddle is
obstructed by a board, which is not as high as the sides. To this
straight buddle there is joined a second transverse buddle, six feet
long and a foot and a half wide and deep, similarly lined with planks;
at the lower end it is closed up with a board, also lower than the
sides of the buddle so that the water can flow away; this water falls
into a launder and is carried outside the building. In this simple
buddle is washed the metallic material which has passed on to the floor
of the works through the five large sieves. When this has been gathered
into a heap, the washer throws it into the head of the buddle, and water
is poured upon it through the pipe or small trough, and the portion
which sinks and settles in the middle of the head compartment he stirs
with a wooden scrubber,--this is what we will henceforth call the
implement made of a stick to which is fixed a piece of wood a foot long
and a palm broad. The water is made turbid by this stirring, and carries
the mud and sand and small particles of metal into the buddle below.
Together with the broken rock, the larger metallic particles remain in
the head compartment, and when these have been removed, boys throw them
upon the platform of a washing tank or the short strake, and separate
them from the broken rock. When the buddle is full of mud and sand, the
washer closes the pipe through which the water flows into the head; very
soon the water which remains in the buddle flows away, and when this has
taken place, he removes with a shovel the mud and sand which are mixed
with minute particles of metal, and washes them on a canvas strake.
Sometimes before the buddles have been filled full, the boys throw the
material into a bowl and carry it to the strakes and wash it.

Pulverized ore is washed in the head of this kind of a buddle; but
usually when tin-stone is washed in it, interlacing fir boughs are put
into the buddle, in the same manner as in the sluice when wet ore is
crushed with stamps. The larger tin-stone particles, which sink in the
upper part of the buddle, are washed separately in a strake; those
particles which are of medium size, and settle in the middle part, are
washed separately in the same way; and the mud mixed with minute
particles of tin-stone, which has settled in the lowest part of the
buddle below the fir boughs, is washed separately on the canvas strakes.

[Illustration 302 (Buddles): A--Pipe. B--Cross launder. C--Small
troughs. D--Head of the buddle. E--Wooden scrubber. F--Dividing boards.
G--Short strake.]

The divided buddle differs from the last one by having several
cross-boards, which, being placed inside it, divide it off like steps;
if the buddle is twelve feet long, four of them are placed within; if
nine feet long, three. The nearer each one is to the head, the greater
is its height; the further from the head, the lower it is; and so when
the highest is a foot and a palm high, the second is usually a foot and
three digits high, the third a foot and two digits, and the lowest a
foot and one digit. In this buddle is generally washed that
metalliferous material which has been sifted through the large sieve
into the tub containing water. This material is continuously thrown with
an iron shovel into the head of the buddle, and the water which has been
let in is stirred up by a wooden scrubber, until the buddle is full,
then the cross-boards are taken out by the washer, and the water is
drained off; next the metalliferous material which has settled in the
compartments is again washed, either on a short strake or on the canvas
strakes or in the jigging sieves. Since a short strake is often united
with the upper part of this buddle, a pipe in the first place carries
the water into a cross launder, from which it flows down through one
little launder into the buddle, and through another into the short

[Illustration 303 (Washing material): A--Head. B--Strake. C--Trowel.
D--Scrubber. E--Canvas. F--Rod by which the canvas is made smooth.]

An ordinary strake, so far as the planks are concerned, is not unlike
the last two. The head of this, as of the others, is first made of earth
stamped down, then covered with planks; and where it is necessary, earth
is thrown in and beaten down a second time, so that no crevice may
remain through which water carrying the particles of metal can escape.
The water ought to fall straight down into the strake, which has a
length of eight feet and a breadth of a foot and a half; it is
connected with a transverse launder, which then extends to a settling
pit outside the building. A boy with a shovel or a ladle takes the
impure concentrates or impure tin-stone from a heap, and throws them
into the head of the strake or spreads them over it. A washer with a
wooden scrubber then agitates them in the strake, whereby the mud mixed
with water flows away into the transverse launder, and the concentrates
or the tin-stone settle on the strake. Since sometimes the concentrates
or fine tin-stone flow down together with the mud into the transverse
launder, a second washer closes it, after a distance of about six feet,
with a cross-board and frequently stirs the mud with a shovel, in order
that when mixed with water it may flow out into the settling-pit; and
there remains in the launder only the concentrates or tin-stone. The
tin-stuff of Schlackenwald and Erbisdorff is washed in this kind of a
strake once or twice; those of Altenberg three or four times; those of
Geyer often seven times; for in the ore at Schlackenwald and Erbisdorff
the tin-stone particles are of a fair size, and are crushed with stamps;
at Altenberg they are of much smaller size, and in the broken ore at
Geyer only a few particles of tin-stone can be seen occasionally.

This method of washing was first devised by the miners who treated tin
ore, whence it passed on from the works of the tin workers to those of
the silver workers and others; this system is even more reliable than
washing in jigging-sieves. Near this ordinary strake there is generally
a canvas strake.

[Illustration 305 (Washing material): A--Upper cross launder. B--Small
launders. C--Heads of strakes. D--Strakes. E--Lower transverse launder.
F--Settling pit. G--Socket in the sill. H--Halved iron rings fixed to
beam. I--Pole. K--Its little scrubber. L--Second small scrubber.]

In modern times two ordinary strakes, similarly made, are generally
joined together; the head of one is three feet distant from that of the
other, while the bodies are four feet distant from each other, and there
is only one cross launder under the two strakes. One boy shovels, from
the heap into the head of each, the concentrates or tin-stone mixed with
mud. There are two washers, one of whom sits at the right side of one
strake, and the other at the left of the other strake, and each pursues
his task, using the following sort of implement. Under each strake is a
sill, from a socket in which a round pole rises, and is held by half an
iron ring in a beam of the building, so that it may revolve; this pole
is nine feet long and a palm thick. Penetrating the pole is a small
round piece of wood, three palms long and as many digits thick, to which
is affixed a small board two feet long and five digits wide, in an
opening of which one end of a small axle revolves, and to this axle is
fixed the handle of a little scrubber. The other end of this axle turns
in an opening of a second board, which is likewise fixed to a small
round piece of wood; this round piece, like the first one, is three
palms long and as many digits thick, and is used by the washer as a
handle. The little scrubber is made of a stick three feet long, to the
end of which is fixed a small tablet of wood a foot long, six digits
broad, and a digit and a half thick. The washer constantly moves the
handle of this implement with one hand; in this way the little scrubber
stirs the concentrates or the fine tin-stone mixed with mud in the head
of the strake, and the mud, on being stirred, flows on to the strake. In
the other hand he holds a second little scrubber, which has a handle
of half the length, and with this he ceaselessly stirs the concentrates
or tin-stone which have settled in the upper part of the strake; in this
way the mud and water flow down into the transverse launder, and from it
into the settling-pit which is outside the building.

[Illustration 306 (Washing material): A--Trough. B--Platform. C--Wooden

Before the short strake and the jigging-sieve had been invented,
metalliferous ores, especially tin, were crushed dry with stamps and
washed in a large trough hollowed out of one or two tree trunks; and at
the head of this trough was a platform, on which the ore was thrown
after being completely crushed. The washer pulled it down into the
trough with a wooden scrubber which had a long handle, and when the
water had been let into the trough, he stirred the ore with the same

[Illustration 307 (Washing material): A--Short strake. B--Small launder.
C--Transverse launder. D--Wooden scrubber.]

The short strake is narrow in the upper part where the water flows down
into it through the little launder; in fact it is only two feet wide; at
the lower end it is wider, being three feet and as many palms. At the
sides, which are six feet long, are fixed boards two palms high. In
other respects the head resembles the head of the simple buddle, except
that it is not depressed in the middle. Beneath is a cross launder
closed by a low board. In this short strake not only is ore agitated and
washed with a wooden scrubber, but boys also separate the concentrates
from the broken rock in them and collect them in tubs. The short strake
is now rarely employed by miners, owing to the carelessness of the boys,
which has been frequently detected; for this reason, the jigging-sieve
has taken its place. The mud which settles in the launder, if the ore is
rich, is taken up and washed in a jigging-sieve or on a canvas strake.

[Illustration 308 (Washing material): A--Beams. B--Canvas. C--Head of
strake. D--Small launder. E--Settling pit or tank. F--Wooden scrubber.

A canvas strake is made in the following way. Two beams, eighteen feet
long and half a foot broad and three palms thick, are placed on a slope;
one half of each of these beams is partially cut away lengthwise, to
allow the ends of planks to be fastened in them, for the bottom is
covered by planks three feet long, set crosswise and laid close
together. One half of each supporting beam is left intact and rises a
palm above the planks, in order that the water that is running down may
not escape at the sides, but shall flow straight down. The head of the
strake is higher than the rest of the body, and slopes so as to enable
the water to flow away. The whole strake is covered by six stretched
pieces of canvas, smoothed with a stick. The first of them occupies the
lowest division, and the second is so laid as to slightly overlap it; on
the second division, the third is similarly laid, and so on, one on the
other. If they are laid in the opposite way, the water flowing down
carries the concentrates or particles of tin-stone under the canvas, and
a useless task is attempted. Boys or men throw the concentrates or
tin-stuff mixed with mud into the head of the strake, after the canvas
has been thus stretched, and having opened the small launder they let
the water flow in; then they stir the concentrates or tin-stone with a
wooden scrubber till the water carries them all on to the canvas; next
they gently sweep the linen with the wooden scrubber until the mud flows
into the settling-pit or into the transverse launder. As soon as there
is little or no mud on the canvas, but only concentrates or tin-stone,
they carry the canvas away and wash it in a tub placed close by. The
tin-stone settles in the tub, and the men return immediately to the same
task. Finally, they pour the water out of the tub, and collect the
concentrates or tin-stone. However, if either concentrates or tin-stone
have washed down from the canvas and settled in the settling-pit or in
the transverse launder, they wash the mud again.

[Illustration 309 (Collecting concentrates): A--Canvas strake. B--Man
dashing water on the canvas. C--Bucket. D--Bucket of another kind.
E--Man removing concentrates or tin-stone from the trough.]

Some neither remove the canvas nor wash it in the tubs, but place over
it on each edge narrow strips, of no great thickness, and fix them to
the beams with nails. They agitate the metalliferous material with
wooden scrubbers and wash it in a similar way. As soon as little or no
mud remains on the canvas, but only concentrates or fine tin-stone, they
lift one beam so that the whole strake rests on the other, and dash it
with water, which has been drawn with buckets out of the small tank, and
in this way all the sediment which clings to the canvas falls into the
trough placed underneath. This trough is hewn out of a tree and placed
in a ditch dug in the ground; the interior of the trough is a foot wide
at the top, but narrower in the bottom, because it is rounded out. In
the middle of this trough they put a cross-board, in order that the
fairly large particles of concentrates or fairly large-sized tin-stone
may remain in the forepart into which they have fallen, and the fine
concentrates or fine tin-stone in the lower part, for the water flows
from one into the other, and at last flows down through an opening into
the pit. As for the fairly large-sized concentrates or tin-stone which
have been removed from the trough, they are washed again on the ordinary
strake. The fine concentrates and fine tin-stone are washed again on
this canvas strake. By this method, the canvas lasts longer because it
remains fixed, and nearly double the work is done by one washer as
quickly as can be done by two washers by the other method.

[Illustration 311 (Jigging Sieve): A--Fine sieves. B--Limp. C--Finer
sieve. D--Finest sieve.]

The jigging sieve has recently come into use by miners. The
metalliferous material is thrown into it and sifted in a tub nearly full
of water. The sieve is shaken up and down, and by this movement all the
material below the size of a pea passes through into the tub, and the
rest remains on the bottom of the sieve. This residue is of two kinds,
the metallic particles, which occupy the lower place, and the particles
of rock and earth, which take the higher place, because the heavy
substance always settles, and the light is borne upward by the force of
the water. This light material is taken away with a limp, which is a
thin tablet of wood almost semicircular in shape, three-quarters of a
foot long, and half a foot wide. Before the lighter portion is taken
away the contents of the sieve are generally divided crosswise with a
limp, to enable the water to penetrate into it more quickly. Afterward
fresh material is again thrown into the sieve and shaken up and down,
and when a great quantity of metallic particles have settled in the
sieve, they are taken out and put into a tray close by. But since there
fall into the tub with the mud, not only particles of gold or silver,
but also of sand, pyrites, _cadmia_, galena, quartz, and other
substances, and since the water cannot separate these from the metallic
particles because they are all heavy, this muddy mixture is washed a
second time, and the part which is useless is thrown away. To prevent
the sieve passing this sand again too quickly, the washer lays small
stones or gravel in the bottom of the sieve. However, if the sieve is
not shaken straight up and down, but is tilted to one side, the small
stones or broken ore move from one part to another, and the metallic
material again falls into the tub, and the operation is frustrated. The
miners of our country have made an even finer sieve, which does not fail
even with unskilled washers; in washing with this sieve they have no
need for the bottom to be strewn with small stones. By this method the
mud settles in the tub with the very fine metallic particles, and the
larger sizes of metal remain in the sieve and are covered with the
valueless sand, and this is taken away with a limp. The concentrates
which have been collected are smelted together with other things. The
mud mixed with the very fine metallic particles is washed for a third
time and in the finest sieve, whose bottom is woven of hair. If the ore
is rich in metal, all the material which has been removed by the limp is
washed on the canvas strakes, or if the ore is poor it is thrown away.

I have explained the methods of washing which are used in common for the
ores of many metals. I now come to another method of crushing ore, for I
ought to speak of this before describing those methods of washing which
are peculiar to ores of particular metals.

[Illustration 313 (Stamp-mill): A--Mortar. B--Open end of mortar.
C--Slab of rock. D--Iron sole plates. E--Screen. F--Launder. G--Wooden
shovel. H--Settling pit. I--Iron shovel. K--Heap of material which has
settled. L--Ore which requires crushing. M--Small launder.]

In the year 1512, George, the illustrious Duke of Saxony[14], gave the
overlordship of all the dumps ejected from the mines in Meissen to the
noble and wise Sigismund Maltitz, father of John, Bishop of Meissen.
Rejecting the dry stamps, the large sieve, and the stone mills of
Dippoldswalde and Altenberg, in which places are dug the small black
stones from which tin is smelted, he invented a machine which could
crush the ore wet under iron-shod stamps. That is called "wet ore" which
is softened by water which flows into the mortar box, and they are
sometimes called "wet stamps" because they are drenched by the same
water; and on the other hand, the other kinds are called "dry stamps" or
"dry ore," because no water is used to soften the ore when the stamps
are crushing. But to return to our subject. This machine is not
dissimilar to the one which crushes the ore with dry iron-shod stamps,
but the heads of the wet stamps are larger by half than the heads of the
others. The mortar-box, which is made of oak or beech timber, is set up
in the space between the upright posts; it does not open in front, but
at one end, and it is three feet long, three-quarters of a foot wide,
and one foot and six digits deep. If it has no bottom, it is set up in
the same way over a slab of hard, smooth rock placed in the ground,
which has been dug down a little. The joints are stopped up all round
with moss or cloth rags. If the mortar has a bottom, then an iron
sole-plate, three feet long, three-quarters of a foot wide, and a palm
thick, is placed in it. In the opening in the end of the mortar there is
fixed an iron plate full of holes, in such a way that there is a space
of two digits between it and the shoe of the nearest stamp, and the same
distance between this screen and the upright post, in an opening through
which runs a small but fairly long launder. The crushed particles of
silver ore flow through this launder with the water into a settling-pit,
while the material which settles in the launder is removed with an iron
shovel to the nearest planked floor; that material which has settled in
the pit is removed with an iron shovel on to another floor. Most people
make two launders, in order that while the workman empties one of them
of the accumulation which has settled in it, a fresh deposit may be
settling in the other. The water flows in through a small launder at the
other end of the mortar that is near the water-wheel which turns the
machine. The workman throws the ore to be crushed into the mortar in
such a way that the pieces, when they are thrown in among the stamps, do
not impede the work. By this method a silver or gold ore is crushed very
fine by the stamps.

[Illustration 314 (Buddle): A--Launder reaching to the screen.
B--Transverse trough. C--Spouts. D--Large buddles. E--Shovel.
F--Interwoven twigs. G--Boards closing the buddles. H--Cross trough.]

When tin ore is crushed by this kind of iron-shod stamps, as soon as
crushing begins, the launder which extends from the screen discharges
the water carrying the fine tin-stone and fine sand into a transverse
trough, from which the water flows down through the spouts, which pierce
the side of the trough, into the one or other of the large buddles set
underneath. The reason why there are two is that, while the washer
empties the one which is filled with fine tin-stone and sand, the
material may flow into the other. Each buddle is twelve feet long, one
cubit deep, and a foot and a half broad. The tin-stone which settles in
the upper part of the buddles is called the large size; these are
frequently stirred with a shovel, in order that the medium sized
particles of tin-stone, and the mud mixed with the very fine particles
of the stones may flow away. The particles of medium size generally
settle in the middle part of the buddle, where they are arrested by
interwoven fir twigs. The mud which flows down with the water settles
between the twigs and the board which closes the lower end of the
buddle. The tin-stone of large size is removed separately from the
buddle with a shovel; those of medium size are also removed separately,
and likewise the mud is removed separately, for they are separately
washed on the canvas strakes and on the ordinary strake, and separately
roasted and smelted. The tin-stone which has settled in the middle part
of the buddle, is also always washed separately on the canvas strakes;
but if the particles are nearly equal in size to those which have
settled in the upper part of the buddle, they are washed with them in
the ordinary strake and are roasted and smelted with them. However, the
mud is never washed with the others, either on the canvas strakes or on
the ordinary strake, but separately, and the fine tin-stone which is
obtained from it is roasted and smelted separately. The two large
buddles discharge into a cross trough, and it again empties through a
launder into a settling-pit which is outside the building.

This method of washing has lately undergone a considerable change; for
the launder which carries the water, mixed with the crushed tin-stone
and fine sand which flow from the openings of the screen, does not reach
to a transverse trough which is inside the same room, but runs straight
through a partition into a small settling-pit. A boy draws a
three-toothed rake through the material which has settled in the portion
of the launder outside the room, by which means the larger sized
particles of tin-stone settle at the bottom, and these the washer takes
out with the wooden shovel and carries into the room; this material is
thrown into an ordinary strake and swept with a wooden scrubber and
washed. As for those tin-stone particles which the water carries off
from the strake, after they have been brought back on to the strake, he
washes them again until they are clean.

[Illustration 315 (Buddle): A--First launder. B--Three-toothed rake.
C--Small settling pit. D--Large buddle. E--Buddle resembling the simple
buddle. F--Small roller. G--Boards. H--Their holes. I--Shovel.
K--Building. L--Stove. (This picture does not entirely agree with the

The remaining tin-stone, mixed with sand, flows into the small
settling-pit which is within the building, and this discharges into two
large buddles. The tin-stone of moderate size, mixed with those of
fairly large size, settle in the upper part, and the small size in the
lower part; but both are impure, and for this reason they are taken out
separately and the former is washed twice, first in a buddle like the
simple buddle, and afterward on an ordinary strake. Likewise the latter
is washed twice, first on a canvas strake and afterward on an ordinary
strake. This buddle, which is like the simple buddle, differs from it in
the head, the whole of which in this case is sloping, while in the case
of the other it is depressed in the centre. In order that the boy may be
able to rest the shovel with which he cleanses the tin-stone, this
sluice has a small wooden roller which turns in holes in two thick
boards fixed to the sides of the buddle; if he did not do this, he would
become over-exhausted by his task, for he spends whole days standing
over these labours. The large buddle, the one like the simple buddle,
the ordinary strake, and the canvas strakes, are erected within a
special building. In this building there is a stove that gives out heat
through the earthen tiles or iron plates of which it is composed, in
order that the washers can pursue their labours even in winter, if the
rivers are not completely frozen over.

[Illustration 317 (Workroom with settling-pit): A--Launder from the
screen of the mortar-box. B--Three-toothed rake. C--Small settling-pit.
D--Canvas. E--Strakes. F--Brooms.]

On the canvas strakes are washed the very fine tin-stone mixed with mud
which has settled in the lower end of the large buddle, as well as in
the lower end of the simple buddle and of the ordinary strake. The
canvas is cleaned in a trough hewn out of one tree trunk and partitioned
off with two boards, so that three compartments are made. The first and
second pieces of canvas are washed in the first compartment, the third
and fourth in the second compartment, the fifth and sixth in the third
compartment. Since among the very fine tin-stone there are usually some
grains of stone, rock, or marble, the master cleanses them on the
ordinary strake, lightly brushing the top of the material with a broom,
the twigs of which do not all run the same way, but some straight and
some crosswise. In this way the water carries off these impurities from
the strake into the settling-pit because they are lighter, and leaves
the tin-stone on the table because it is heavier.

Below all buddles or strakes, both inside and outside the building,
there are placed either settling-pits or cross-troughs into which they
discharge, in order that the water may carry on down into the stream but
very few of the most minute particles of tin-stone. The large
settling-pit which is outside the building is generally made of joined
flooring, and is eight feet in length, breadth and depth. When a large
quantity of mud, mixed with very fine tin-stone, has settled in it,
first of all the water is let out by withdrawing a plug, then the mud
which is taken out is washed outside the house on the canvas strakes,
and afterward the concentrates are washed on the strake which is inside
the building. By these methods the very finest tin-stone is made clean.

[Illustration 318 (Streaming for Tin): A--River. B--Weir. C--Gate.
D--Area. E--Meadow. F--Fence. G--Ditch.]

The mud mixed with the very fine tin-stone, which has neither settled in
the large settling-pit nor in the transverse launder which is outside
the room and below the canvas strakes, flows away and settles in the bed
of the stream or river. In order to recover even a portion of the fine
tin-stone, many miners erect weirs in the bed of the stream or river,
very much like those that are made above the mills, to deflect the
current into the races through which it flows to the water-wheels. At
one side of each weir there is an area dug out to a depth of five or six
or seven feet, and if the nature of the place will permit, extending
in every direction more than sixty feet. Thus, when the water of the
river or stream in autumn and winter inundates the land, the gates of
the weir are closed, by which means the current carries the mud mixed
with fine tin-stone into the area. In spring and summer this mud is
washed on the canvas strakes or on the ordinary strake, and even the
finest black-tin is collected. Within a distance of four thousand
fathoms along the bed of the stream or river below the buildings in
which the tin-stuff is washed, the miners do not make such weirs, but
put inclined fences in the meadows, and in front of each fence they dig
a ditch of the same length, so that the mud mixed with the fine
tin-stone, carried along by the stream or river when in flood, may
settle in the ditch and cling to the fence. When this mud is collected,
it is likewise washed on canvas strakes and on the ordinary strake, in
order that the fine tin-stone may be separated from it. Indeed we may
see many such areas and fences collecting mud of this kind in Meissen
below Altenberg in the river Moglitz,--which is always of a reddish
colour when the rock containing the black tin is being crushed under the

[Illustration 320 (Stamp-mill): A--First machine. B--Its stamps. C--Its
mortar-box. D--Second machine. E--Its stamps. F--Its mortar-box.
G--Third machine. H--Its stamps. I--Its mortar-box. K--Fourth machine.
L--Its stamps. M--Its mortar-box.]

But to return to the stamping machines. Some usually set up four
machines of this kind in one place, that is to say, two above and the
same number below. By this plan it is necessary that the current which
has been diverted should fall down from a greater height upon the upper
water-wheels, because these turn axles whose cams raise heavier stamps.
The stamp-stems of the upper machines should be nearly twice as long as
the stems of the lower ones, because all the mortar-boxes are placed on
the same level. These stamps have their tappets near their upper ends,
not as in the case of the lower stamps, which are placed just above the
bottom. The water flowing down from the two upper water-wheels is caught
in two broad races, from which it falls on to the two lower
water-wheels. Since all these machines have the stamps very close
together, the stems should be somewhat cut away, to prevent the iron
shoes from rubbing each other at the point where they are set into the
stems. Where so many machines cannot be constructed, by reason of the
narrowness of the valley, the mountain is excavated and levelled in two
places, one of which is higher than the other, and in this case two
machines are constructed and generally placed in one building. A broad
race receives in the same way the water which flows down from the upper
water-wheel, and similarly lets it fall on the lower water-wheel. The
mortar-boxes are not then placed on one level, but each on the level
which is appropriate to its own machine, and for this reason, two
workmen are then required to throw ore into the mortar-boxes. When no
stream can be diverted which will fall from a higher place upon the top
of the water-wheel, one is diverted which will turn the foot of the
wheel; a great quantity of water from the stream is collected in one
pool capable of holding it, and from this place, when the gates are
raised, the water is discharged against the wheel which turns in the
race. The buckets of a water-wheel of this kind are deeper and bent
back, projecting upward; those of the former are shallower and bent
forward, inclining downward.

[Illustration 321 (Stamp-mill): A--Stamps. B--Mortar. C--Plates full of
holes. D--Transverse launder. E--Planks full of cup-like depressions.
F--Spout. G--Bowl into which the concentrates fall. H--Canvas strake.
I--Bowls shaped like a small boat. K--Settling-pit under the canvas

Further, in the Julian and Rhaetian Alps[15] and in the Carpathian
Mountains, gold or even silver ore is now put under stamps, which are
sometimes placed more than twenty in a row, and crushed wet in a long
mortar-box. The mortar has two plates full of holes through which the
ore, after being crushed, flows out with the water into the transverse
launder placed underneath, and from there it is carried down by two
spouts into the heads of the canvas strakes. Each head is made of a
thick broad plank, which can be raised and set upright, and to which on
each side are fixed pieces projecting upward. In this plank there are
many cup-like depressions equal in size and similar in shape, in each of
which an egg could be placed. Right down in these depressions are small
crevices which can retain the concentrates of gold or silver, and when
the hollows are nearly filled with these materials, the plank is raised
on one side so that the concentrates will fall into a large bowl. The
cup-like depressions are washed out by dashing them with water. These
concentrates are washed separately in different bowls from those which
have settled on the canvas. This bowl is smooth and two digits wide and
deep, being in shape very similar to a small boat; it is broad in the
fore part, narrow in the back, and in the middle of it there is a cross
groove, in which the particles of pure gold or silver settle, while the
grains of sand, since they are lighter, flow out of it.

In some parts of Moravia, gold ore, which consists of quartz mixed with
gold, is placed under the stamps and crushed wet. When crushed fine it
flows out through a launder into a trough, is there stirred by a wooden
scrubber, and the minute particles of gold which settle in the upper end
of the trough are washed in a black bowl.

So far I have spoken of machines which crush wet ore with iron-shod
stamps. I will now explain the methods of washing which are in a measure
peculiar to the ore of certain metals, beginning with gold. The ore
which contains particles of this metal, and the sand of streams and
rivers which contains grains of it, are washed in frames or bowls; the
sands especially are also washed in troughs. More than one method is
employed for washing on frames, for these frames either pass or retain
the particles or concentrates of gold; they pass them if they have
holes, and retain them if they have no holes. But either the frame
itself has holes, or a box is substituted for it; if the frame itself is
perforated it passes the particles or concentrates of gold into a
trough; if the box has them, it passes the gold material into the long
sluice. I will first speak of these two methods of washing. The frame is
made of two planks joined together, and is twelve feet long and three
feet wide, and is full of holes large enough for a pea to pass. To
prevent the ore or sand with which the gold is mixed from falling out at
the sides, small projecting edge-boards are fixed to it. This frame is
set upon two stools, the first of which is higher than the second, in
order that the gravel and small stones can roll down it. The washer
throws the ore or sand into the head of the frame, which is higher, and
opening the small launder, lets the water into it, and then agitates it
with a wooden scrubber. In this way, the gravel and small stones roll
down the frame on to the ground, while the particles or concentrates of
gold, together with the sand, pass through the holes into the trough
which is placed under the frame, and after being collected are washed in
the bowl.

[Illustration 322 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Head of
frame. B--Frame. C--Holes. D--Edge-boards. E--Stools. F--Scrubber.
G--Trough. H--Launder. I--Bowl.]

[Illustration 323 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Sluice.
B--Box. C--Bottom of inverted box. D--Open part of it. E--Iron hoe.
F--Riffles. G--Small launder. H--Bowl with which settlings are taken
away. I--Black bowl in which they are washed.]

A box which has a bottom made of a plate full of holes, is placed over
the upper end of a sluice, which is fairly long but of moderate width.
The gold material to be washed is thrown into this box, and a great
quantity of water is let in. The lumps, if ore is being washed, are
mashed with an iron shovel. The fine portions fall through the bottom of
the box into the sluice, but the coarse pieces remain in the box, and
these are removed with a scraper through an opening which is nearly in
the middle of one side. Since a large amount of water is necessarily let
into the box, in order to prevent it from sweeping away any particles of
gold which have fallen into the sluice, the sluice is divided off by
ten, or if it is as long again, by fifteen riffles. These riffles are
placed equidistant from one another, and each is higher than the one
next toward the lower end of the sluice. The little compartments which
are thus made are filled with the material and the water which flows
through the box; as soon as these compartments are full and the water
has begun to flow over clear, the little launder through which this
water enters into the box is closed, and the water is turned in another
direction. Then the lowest riffle is removed from the sluice, and the
sediment which has accumulated flows out with the water and is caught in
a bowl. The riffles are removed one by one and the sediment from each is
taken into a separate bowl, and each is separately washed and cleansed
in a bowl. The larger particles of gold concentrates settle in the
higher compartments, the smaller size, in the lower compartments. This
bowl is shallow and smooth, and smeared with oil or some other slippery
substance, so that the tiny particles of gold may not cling to it, and
it is painted black, that the gold may be more easily discernible; on
the exterior, on both sides and in the middle, it is slightly hollowed
out in order that it may be grasped and held firmly in the hands when
shaken. By this method the particles or concentrates of gold settle in
the back part of the bowl; for if the back part of the bowl is tapped or
shaken with one hand, as is usual, the contents move toward the fore
part. In this way the Moravians, especially, wash gold ore.

The gold particles are also caught on frames which are either bare or
covered. If bare, the particles are caught in pockets; if covered, they
cling to the coverings. Pockets are made in various ways, either with
iron wire or small cross-boards fixed to the frame, or by holes which
are sunk into the sluice itself or into its head, but which do not quite
go through. These holes are round or square, or are grooves running
crosswise. The frames are either covered with skins, pieces of cloth, or
turf, which I will deal with one by one in turn.

[Illustration 324 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Plank.
B--Side-boards. C--Iron wire. D--Handles.]

In order to prevent the sand which contains the particles of gold from
spilling out, the washer fixes side-boards to the edges of a plank which
is six feet long and one and a quarter wide. He then lays crosswise many
iron wires a digit apart, and where they join he fixes them to the
bottom plank with iron nails. Then he makes the head of the frame
higher, and into this he throws the sand which needs washing, and taking
in his hands the handles which are at the head of the frame, he draws it
backward and forward several times in the river or stream. In this way
the small stones and gravel flow down along the frame, and the sand
mixed with particles of gold remains in the pockets between the strips.
When the contents of the pockets have been shaken out and collected in
one place, he washes them in a bowl and thus cleans the gold dust.

[Illustration 326 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Head of the
sluice. B--Riffles. C--Wooden scrubber. D--Pointed stick. E--Dish.
F--Its cup-like depression. G--Grooved dish.]

Other people, among whom are the Lusitanians[16], fix to the sides of a
sluice, which is about six feet long and a foot and a half broad, many
cross-strips or riffles, which project backward and are a digit apart.
The washer or his wife lets the water into the head of the sluice, where
he throws the sand which contains the particles of gold. As it flows
down he agitates it with a wooden scrubber, which he moves transversely
to the riffles. He constantly removes with a pointed wooden stick the
sediment which settles in the pockets between the riffles, and in this
way the particles of gold settle in them, while the sand and other
valueless materials are carried by the water into a tub placed below the
sluice. He removes the particles of metal with a small wooden shovel
into a wooden bowl. This bowl does not exceed a foot and a quarter in
breadth, and by moving it up and down in the stream he cleanses the gold
dust, for the remaining sand flows out of the dish, and the gold dust
settles in the middle of it, where there is a cup-like depression. Some
make use of a bowl which is grooved inside like a shell, but with a
smooth lip where the water flows out. This smooth place, however, is
narrower where the grooves run into it, and broader where the water
flows out.

[Illustration 327 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Head of the
sluice. B--Side-boards. C--Lower end of the sluice. D--Pockets.
E--Grooves. F--Stools. G--Shovel. H--Tub set below. I--Launder.]

The cup-like pockets and grooves are cut or burned at the same time into
the bottom of the sluice; the bottom is composed of three planks ten
feet long, and is about four feet wide; but the lower end, through which
the water is discharged, is narrower. This sluice, which likewise has
side-boards fixed to its edges, is full of rounded pockets and of
grooves which lead to them, there being two grooves to one pocket, in
order that the water mixed with sand may flow into each pocket through
the upper groove, and that after the sand has partly settled, the water
may again flow out through the lower groove. The sluice is set in the
river or stream or on the bank, and placed on two stools, of which the
first is higher than the second in order that the gravel and small
stones may roll down the sluice. The washer throws sand into the head
with a shovel, and opening the launder, lets in the water, which carries
the particles of metal with a little sand down into the pockets, while
the gravel and small stones with the rest of the sand falls into a tub
placed below the sluice. As soon as the pockets are filled, he brushes
out the concentrates and washes them in a bowl. He washes again and
again through this sluice.

[Illustration 328 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Cross
grooves. B--Tub set under the sluice. C--Another tub.]

Some people cut a number of cross-grooves, one palm distant from each
other, in a sluice similarly composed of three planks eight feet long.
The upper edge of these grooves is sloping, that the particles of gold
may slip into them when the washer stirs the sand with a wooden shovel;
but their lower edge is vertical so that the gold particles may thus be
unable to slide out of them. As soon as these grooves are full of gold
particles mixed with fine sand, the sluice is removed from the stools
and raised up on its head. The head in this case is nothing but the
upper end of the planks of which the sluice is composed. In this way the
metallic particles, being turned over backward, fall into another tub,
for the small stones and gravel have rolled down the sluice. Some people
place large bowls under the sluice instead of tubs, and as in the other
cases, the unclean concentrates are washed in the small bowl.

[Illustration 329 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Sluice
covered with canvas. B--Its head full of pockets and grooves. C--Head
removed and washed in a tub. D--Sluice which has square pockets.
E--Sluice to whose planks small shavings cling. F--Broom. G--Skins of
oxen. H--Wooden scrubber.]

The Thuringians cut rounded pockets, a digit in diameter and depth, in
the head of the sluice, and at the same time they cut grooves reaching
from one to another. The sluice itself they cover with canvas. The sand
which is to be washed, is thrown into the head and stirred with a
wooden scrubber; in this way the water carries the light particles of
gold on to the canvas, and the heavy ones sink in the pockets, and when
these hollows are full, the head is removed and turned over a tub, and
the concentrates are collected and washed in a bowl. Some people make
use of a sluice which has square pockets with short vertical recesses
which hold the particles of gold. Other workers use a sluice made of
planks, which are rough by reason of the very small shavings which still
cling to them; these sluices are used instead of those with coverings,
of which this sluice is bare, and when the sand is washed, the particles
of gold cling no less to these shavings than to canvas, or skins, or
cloths, or turf. The washer sweeps the sluice upward with a broom, and
when he has washed as much of the sand as he wishes, he lets a more
abundant supply of water into the sluice again to wash out the
concentrates, which he collects in a tub set below the sluice, and then
washes again in a bowl. Just as Thuringians cover the sluice with
canvas, so some people cover it with the skins of oxen or horses. They
push the auriferous sand upward with a wooden scrubber, and by this
system the light material flows away with the water, while the particles
of gold settle among the hairs; the skins are afterward washed in a tub;
and the concentrates are collected in a bowl.

[Illustration 330 (Washing material in spring): A--Spring. B--Skin.

The Colchians[17] placed the skins of animals in the pools of springs;
and since many particles of gold had clung to them when they were
removed, poets invented the "golden fleece" of the Colchians. In like
manner, it can be contrived by the methods of miners that skins should
take up, not only particles of gold, but also of silver and gems.

[Illustration 331 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Head of
frame. B--Frame. C--Cloth. D--small launder. E--Tub set below the frame.
F--Tub in which cloth is washed.]

Many people cover the frame with a green cloth as long and wide as the
frame itself, and fasten it with iron nails in such a way that they can
easily draw them out and remove the cloth. When the cloth appears to be
golden because of the particles which adhere to it, it is washed in a
special tub and the particles are collected in a bowl. The remainder
which has run down into the tub is again washed on the frame.

[Illustration 332 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Cloth full
of small knots, spread out. B--Small knots more conspicuously shown.
C--Tub in which cloth is washed.]

Some people, in place of a green cloth, use a cloth of tightly woven
horsehair, which has a rough knotty surface. Since these knots stand out
and the cloth is rough, even the very small particles of gold adhere to
it; these cloths are likewise washed in a tub with water.

[Illustration 333 (Frames for Washing Ore or Alluvial): A--Head of
frame. B--Small launder through which water flows into head of frame.
C--Pieces of turf. D--Trough placed under frame. E--Tub in which pieces
of turf are washed.]

Some people construct a frame not unlike the one covered with canvas,
but shorter. In place of the canvas they set pieces of turf in rows.
They wash the sand, which has been thrown into the head of the frame, by
letting in water. In this way the particles of gold settle in the turf,
the mud and sand, together with the water, are carried down into the
settling-pit or trough below, which is opened when the work is finished.
After all the water has passed out of the settling-pit, the sand and mud
are carried away and washed over again in the same manner. The particles
which have clung to the turf are afterward washed down into the
settling-pit or trough by a stronger current of the water, which is let
into the frame through a small launder. The concentrates are finally
collected and washed in a bowl. Pliny was not ignorant of this method of
washing gold. "The ulex," he says, "after being dried, is burnt, and its
ashes are washed over a grassy turf, that the gold may settle on it."

[Illustration 334 (Trays for Washing Alluvial): A--Tray. B--Bowl-like
depression. C--Handles.]

Sand mixed with particles of gold is also washed in a tray, or in a
trough or bowl. The tray is open at the further end, is either hewn out
of a squared trunk of a tree or made out of a thick plank to which
side-boards are fixed, and is three feet long, a foot and a half wide,
and three digits deep. The bottom is hollowed out into the shape of an
elongated bowl whose narrow end is turned toward the head, and it has
two long handles, by which it is drawn backward and forward in the
river. In this way the fine sand is washed, whether it contains
particles of gold or the little black stones from which tin is made.

[Illustration 335 (Trough for washing alluvial): A--Trough. B--Its open
end. C--End that may be closed. D--Stream. E--Hoe. F--End-board.

The Italians who come to the German mountains seeking gold, in order to
wash the river sand which contains gold-dust and garnets,[19] use a
fairly long shallow trough hewn out of a tree, rounded within and
without, open at one end and closed at the other, which they turn in the
bed of the stream in such a way that the water does not dash into it,
but flows in gently. They stir the sand, which they throw into it, with
a wooden hoe, also rounded. To prevent the particles of gold or garnets
from running out with the light sand, they close the end with a board
similarly rounded, but lower than the sides of the trough. The
concentrates of gold or garnets which, with a small quantity of heavy
sand, have settled in the trough, they wash in a bowl and collect in
bags and carry away with them.

[Illustration 336 (Bowls for Alluvial Washing): A--Large bowl. B--Ropes.
C--Beam. D--Other large bowl which coiners use. E--Small bowl.]

Some people wash this kind of sand in a large bowl which can easily be
shaken, the bowl being suspended by two ropes from a beam in a building.
The sand is thrown into it, water is poured in, then the bowl is shaken,
and the muddy water is poured out and clear water is again poured in,
this being done again and again. In this way, the gold particles settle
in the back part of the bowl because they are heavy, and the sand in the
front part because it is light; the latter is thrown away, the former
kept for smelting. The one who does the washing then returns immediately
to his task. This method of washing is rarely used by miners, but
frequently by coiners and goldsmiths when they wash gold, silver, or
copper. The bowl they employ has only three handles, one of which they
grasp in their hands when they shake the bowl, and in the other two is
fastened a rope by which the bowl is hung from a beam, or from a
cross-piece which is upheld by the forks of two upright posts fixed in
the ground. Miners frequently wash ore in a small bowl to test it. This
bowl, when shaken, is held in one hand and thumped with the other hand.
In other respects this method of washing does not differ from the last.

[Illustration 337 (Ground Sluicing): A--Stream. B--Ditch. C--Mattock.
D--Pieces of turf. E--Seven-pronged fork. F--Iron shovel. G--Trough.
H--Another trough below it. I--Small wooden trowel.]

I have spoken of the various methods of washing sand which contains
grains of gold; I will now speak of the methods of washing the material
in which are mixed the small black stones from which tin is made[20].
Eight such methods are in use, and of these two have been invented
lately. Such metalliferous material is usually found torn away from
veins and stringers and scattered far and wide by the impetus of water,
although sometimes _venae dilatatae_ are composed of it. The miners dig
out the latter material with a broad mattock, while they dig the former
with a pick. But they dig out the little stones, which are not rare in
this kind of ore, with an instrument like the bill of a duck. In
districts which contain this material, if there is an abundant supply of
water, and if there are valleys or gentle slopes and hollows, so that
rivers can be diverted into them, the washers in summer-time first of
all dig a long ditch sloping so that the water will run through it
rapidly. Into the ditch is thrown the metallic material, together with
the surface material, which is six feet thick, more or less, and often
contains moss, roots of plants, shrubs, trees, and earth; they are all
thrown in with a broad mattock, and the water flows through the ditch.
The sand and tin-stone, as they are heavy, sink to the bottom of the
ditch, while the moss and roots, as they are light, are carried away by
the water which flows through the ditch. The bottom of the ditch is
obstructed with turf and stones in order to prevent the water from
carrying away the tin-stone at the same time. The washers, whose feet
are covered with high boots made of hide, though not of rawhide,
themselves stand in the ditch and throw out of it the roots of the
trees, shrubs, and grass with seven-pronged wooden forks, and push back
the tin-stone toward the head of the ditch. After four weeks, in which
they have devoted much work and labour, they raise the tin-stone in the
following way; the sand with which it is mixed is repeatedly lifted from
the ditch with an iron shovel and agitated hither and thither in the
water, until the sand flows away and only the tin-stone remains on the
shovel. The tin-stone is all collected together and washed again in a
trough by pushing it up and turning it over with a wooden trowel, in
order that the remaining sand may separate from it. Afterward they
return to their task, which they continue until the metalliferous
material is exhausted, or until the water can no longer be diverted into
the ditches.

[Illustration 338 (Sluicing Tin): A--Trough. B--Wooden shovel. C--Tub.
D--Launder. E--Wooden trowel. F--Transverse trough. G--Plug. H--Falling
water. I--Ditch. K--Barrow conveying material to be washed. L--Pick like
the beak of a duck with which the miner digs out the material from which
the small stones are obtained.]

The trough which I mentioned is hewn out of the trunk of a tree and the
interior is five feet long, three-quarters of a foot deep, and six
digits wide. It is placed on an incline and under it is put a tub which
contains interwoven fir twigs, or else another trough is put under it,
the interior of which is three feet long and one foot wide and deep; the
fine tin-stone, which has run out with the water, settles in the bottom.
Some people, in place of a trough, put a square launder underneath, and
in like manner they wash the tin-stone in this by agitating it up and
down and turning it over with a small wooden trowel. A transverse trough
is put under the launder, which is either open on one end and drains off
into a tub or settling-pit, or else is closed and perforated through the
bottom; in this case, it drains into a ditch beneath, where the water
falls when the plug has been partly removed. The nature of this ditch I
will now describe.

[Illustration 340 (Sluicing Tin): A--Launder. B--Interlacing fir twigs.
C--Logs; three on one side, for the fourth cannot be seen because the
ditch is so full with material now being washed. D--Logs at the head of
the ditch. E--Barrow. F--Seven-pronged fork. G--Hoe.]

If the locality does not supply an abundance of water, the washers dig a
ditch thirty or thirty-six feet long, and cover the bottom, the full
length, with logs joined together and hewn on the side which lies flat
on the ground. On each side of the ditch, and at its head also, they
place four logs, one above the other, all hewn smooth on the inside. But
since the logs are laid obliquely along the sides, the upper end of the
ditch is made four feet wide and the tail end, two feet. The water has a
high drop from a launder and first of all it falls into interlaced fir
twigs, in order that it shall fall straight down for the most part in an
unbroken stream and thus break up the lumps by its weight. Some do not
place these twigs under the end of the launder, but put a plug in its
mouth, which, since it does not entirely close the launder, nor
altogether prevent the discharge from it, nor yet allow the water to
spout far afield, makes it drop straight down. The workman brings in a
wheelbarrow the material to be washed, and throws it into the ditch. The
washer standing in the upper end of the ditch breaks the lumps with a
seven-pronged fork, and throws out the roots of trees, shrubs, and grass
with the same instrument, and thereby the small black stones settle
down. When a large quantity of the tin-stone has accumulated, which
generally happens when the washer has spent a day at this work, to
prevent it from being washed away he places it upon the bank, and other
material having been again thrown into the upper end of the ditch, he
continues the task of washing. A boy stands at the lower end of the
ditch, and with a thin pointed hoe stirs up the sediment which has
settled at the lower end, to prevent the washed tin-stone from being
carried further, which occurs when the sediment has accumulated to such
an extent that the fir branches at the outlet of the ditch are covered.

[Illustration 341 (Sifting Ore): A--Strakes. B--Tank. C--Launder.
D--Plug. E--Wooden shovel. F--Wooden mallet. G--Wooden shovel with short
handle. H--The plug in the strake. I--Tank placed under the plug.]

The third method of washing materials of this kind follows. Two strakes
are made, each of which is twelve feet long and a foot and a half wide
and deep. A tank is set at their head, into which the water flows
through a little launder. A boy throws the ore into one strake; if it is
of poor quality he puts in a large amount of it, if it is rich he puts
in less. The water is let in by removing the plug, the ore is stirred
with a wooden shovel, and in this way the tin-stone, mixed with the
heavier material, settles in the bottom of the strake, and the water
carries the light material into the launder, through which it flows on
to a canvas strake. The very fine tin-stone, carried by the water,
settles on to the canvas and is cleansed. A low cross-board is placed in
the strake near the head, in order that the largest sized tin-stone may
settle there. As soon as the strake is filled with the material which
has been washed, he closes the mouth of the tank and continues washing
in the other strake, and then the plug is withdrawn and the water and
tin-stone flow down into a tank below. Then he pounds the sides of the
loaded strake with a wooden mallet, in order that the tin-stone clinging
to the sides may fall off; all that has settled in it, he throws out
with a wooden shovel which has a short handle. Silver slags which have
been crushed under the stamps, also fragments of silver-lead alloy and
of cakes melted from pyrites, are washed in a strake of this kind.

[Illustration 342 (Sifting Ore): A--Sieve. B--Tub. C--Water flowing out
of the bottom of it. D--Strake. E--Three-toothed rake. F--Wooden

Material of this kind is also washed while wet, in a sieve whose bottom
is made of woven iron wire, and this is the fourth method of washing.
The sieve is immersed in the water which is contained in a tub, and is
violently shaken. The bottom of this tub has an opening of such size
that as much water, together with tailings from the sieve, can flow
continuously out of it as water flows into it. The material which
settles in the strake, a boy either digs over with a three-toothed iron
rake or sweeps with a wooden scrubber; in this way the water carries off
a great part of both sand and mud. The tin-stone or metalliferous
concentrates settle in the strake and are afterward washed in another

[Illustration 343 (Sluicing Tin): A--Box. B--Perforated plate.
C--Trough. D--Cross-boards. E--Pool. F--Launder. G--Shovel. H--Rake.]

These are ancient methods of washing material which contains tin-stone;
there follow two modern methods. If the tin-stone mixed with earth or
sand is found on the slopes of mountains or hills, or in the level
fields which are either devoid of streams or into which a stream cannot
be diverted, miners have lately begun to employ the following method of
washing, even in the winter months. An open box is constructed of
planks, about six feet long, three feet wide, and two feet and one palm
deep. At the upper end on the inside, an iron plate three feet long and
wide is fixed, at a depth of one foot and a half from the top; this
plate is very full of holes, through which tin-stone about the size of a
pea can fall. A trough hewn from a tree is placed under the box, and
this trough is about twenty-four feet long and three-quarters of a foot
wide and deep; very often three cross-boards are placed in it, dividing
it off into compartments, each one of which is lower than the next. The
turbid waters discharge into a settling-pit.

The metalliferous material is sometimes found not very deep beneath the
surface of the earth, but sometimes so deep that it is necessary to
drive tunnels and sink shafts. It is transported to the washing-box in
wheelbarrows, and when the washers are about to begin they lay a small
launder, through which there flows on to the iron plate so much water
as is necessary for this washing. Next, a boy throws the metalliferous
material on to the iron plate with an iron shovel and breaks the small
lumps, stirring them this way and that with the same implement. Then the
water and sand penetrating the holes of the plate, fall into the box,
while all the coarse gravel remains on the plate, and this he throws
into a wheelbarrow with the same shovel. Meantime, a younger boy
continually stirs the sand under the plate with a wooden scrubber nearly
as wide as the box, and drives it to the upper end of the box; the
lighter material, as well as a small amount of tin-stone, is carried by
the water down into the underlying trough. The boys carry on this labour
without intermission until they have filled four wheelbarrows with the
coarse and worthless residues, which they carry off and throw away, or
three wheelbarrows if the material is rich in black tin. Then the
foreman has the plank removed which was in front of the iron plate, and
on which the boy stood. The sand, mixed with the tin-stone, is
frequently pushed backward and forward with a scrubber, and the same
sand, because it is lighter, takes the upper place, and is removed as
soon as it appears; that which takes the lower place is turned over with
a spade, in order that any that is light can flow away; when all the
tin-stone is heaped together, he shovels it out of the box and carries
it away. While the foreman does this, one boy with an iron hoe stirs the
sand mixed with fine tin-stone, which has run out of the box and has
settled in the trough and pushes it back to the uppermost part of the
trough, and this material, since it contains a very great amount of
tin-stone, is thrown on to the plate and washed again. The material
which has settled in the lowest part of the trough is taken out
separately and piled in a heap, and is washed on the ordinary strake;
that which has settled in the pool is washed on the canvas strake. In
the summer-time this fruitful labour is repeated more often, in fact ten
or eleven times. The tin-stone which the foreman removes from the box,
is afterward washed in a jigging sieve, and lastly in a tub, where at
length all the sand is separated out. Finally, any material in which are
mixed particles of other metals, can be washed by all these methods,
whether it has been disintegrated from veins or stringers, or whether it
originated from _venae dilatatae_, or from streams and rivers.

[Illustration 345 (Ground Sluicing): A--Launder. B--Cross trough. C--Two
spouts. D--Boxes. E--Plate. F--Grating. G--Shovels. H--Second cross
trough. I--Strake. K--Wooden scrubber. L--Third cross trough.
M--Launder. N--Three-toothed rake.]

The sixth method of washing material of this kind is even more modern
and more useful than the last. Two boxes are constructed, into each of
which water flows through spouts from a cross trough into which it has
been discharged through a pipe or launder. When the material has been
agitated and broken up with iron shovels by two boys, part of it runs
down and falls through the iron plates full of holes, or through the
iron grating, and flows out of the box over a sloping surface into
another cross trough, and from this into a strake seven feet long and
two and a half feet wide. Then the foreman again stirs it with a wooden
scrubber that it may become clean. As for the material which has flowed
down with the water and settled in the third cross trough, or in the
launder which leads from it, a third boy rakes it with a two-toothed
rake; in this way the fine tin-stone settles down and the water carries
off the valueless sand into the creek. This method of washing is most
advantageous, for four men can do the work of washing in two boxes,
while the last method, if doubled, requires six men, for it requires two
boys to throw the material to be washed on to the plate and to stir it
with iron shovels; two more are required with wooden scrubbers to keep
stirring the sand, mixed with the tin-stone, under the plate, and to
push it toward the upper end of the box; further, two foremen are
required to clean the tin-stone in the way I have described. In the
place of a plate full of holes, they now fix in the boxes a grating made
of iron wire as thick as the stalks of rye; that these may not be
depressed by the weight and become bent, three iron bars support them,
being laid crosswise underneath. To prevent the grating from being
broken by the iron shovels with which the material is stirred in
washing, five or six iron rods are placed on top in cross lines, and are
fixed to the box so that the shovels may rub them instead of the
grating; for this reason the grating lasts longer than the plates,
because it remains intact, while the rods, when worn by rubbing, can
easily be replaced by others.

[Illustration 346 (Ground Sluicing): A--Pits. B--Torrent.
C--Seven-pronged fork. D--Shovel.]

Miners use the seventh method of washing when there is no stream of
water in the part of the mountain which contains the black tin, or
particles of gold, or of other metals. In this case they frequently dig
more than fifty ditches on the slope below, or make the same number of
pits, six feet long, three feet wide, and three-quarters of a foot deep,
not any great distance from each other. At the season when a torrent
rises from storms of great violence or long duration, and rushes down
the mountain, some of the miners dig the metalliferous material in the
woods with broad hoes and drag it to the torrent. Other miners divert
the torrent into the ditches or pits, and others throw the roots of
trees, shrubs, and grass out of the ditches or pits with seven-pronged
wooden forks. When the torrent has run down, they remove with shovels
the uncleansed tin-stone or particles of metal which have settled in the
ditches or pits, and cleanse it.

[Illustration 347 (Ground Sluicing): A--Gully. B--Ditch. C--Torrent.
D--Sluice box employed by the Lusitanians.]

The eighth method is also employed in the regions which the Lusitanians
hold in their power and sway, and is not dissimilar to the last. They
drive a great number of deep ditches in rows in the gullies, slopes,
and hollows of the mountains. Into these ditches the water, whether
flowing down from snow melted by the heat of the sun or from rain,
collects and carries together with earth and sand, sometimes tin-stone,
or, in the case of the Lusitanians, the particles of gold loosened from
veins and stringers. As soon as the waters of the torrent have all run
away, the miners throw the material out of the ditches with iron
shovels, and wash it in a common sluice box.

[Illustration 348 (Trough for washing alluvial): A--Trough. B--Launder.
C--Hoe. D--Sieve.]

The Poles wash the impure lead from _venae dilatatae_ in a trough ten
feet long, three feet wide, and one and one-quarter feet deep. It is
mixed with moist earth and is covered by a wet and sandy clay, and so
first of all the clay, and afterward the ore, is dug out. The ore is
carried to a stream or river, and thrown into a trough into which water
is admitted by a little launder, and the washer standing at the lower
end of the trough drags the ore out with a narrow and nearly pointed
hoe, whose wooden handle is nearly ten feet long. It is washed over
again once or twice in the same way and thus made pure. Afterward when
it has been dried in the sun they throw it into a copper sieve, and
separate the very small pieces which pass through the sieve from the
larger ones; of these the former are smelted in a faggot pile and the
latter in the furnace. Of such a number then are the methods of washing.

[Illustration 349 (Tin burning Furnace): A--Furnace. B--Its mouth.
C--Poker. D--Rake with two teeth. E--Hoe.]

One method of burning is principally employed, and two of roasting. The
black tin is burned by a hot fire in a furnace similar to an oven[21];
it is burned if it is a dark-blue colour, or if pyrites and the stone
from which iron is made are mixed with it, for the dark blue colour if
not burnt, consumes the tin. If pyrites and the other stone are not
volatilised into fumes in a furnace of this kind, the tin which is made
from the tin-stone is impure. The tin-stone is thrown either into the
back part of the furnace, or into one side of it; but in the former case
the wood is placed in front, in the latter case alongside, in such a
manner, however, that neither firebrands nor coals may fall upon the
tin-stone itself or touch it. The fuel is manipulated by a poker made of
wood. The tin-stone is now stirred with a rake with two teeth, and now
again levelled down with a hoe, both of which are made of iron. The very
fine tin-stone requires to be burned less than that of moderate size,
and this again less than that of the largest size. While the tin-stone
is being thus burned, it frequently happens that some of the material
runs together.

The burned tin-stone should then be washed again on the strake, for in
this way the material which has been run together is carried away by the
water into the cross-trough, where it is gathered up and worked over,
and again washed on the strake. By this method the metal is separated
from that which is devoid of metal.

[Illustration 350 (Stall Roasting Matte): A--Pits. B--Wood. C--Cakes.

Cakes from pyrites, or _cadmia_, or cupriferous stones, are roasted in
quadrangular pits, of which the front and top are open, and these pits
are generally twelve feet long, eight feet wide, and three feet deep.
The cakes of melted pyrites are usually roasted twice over, and those of
_cadmia_ once. These latter are first rolled in mud moistened with
vinegar, to prevent the fire from consuming too much of the copper with
the bitumen, or sulphur, or orpiment, or realgar. The cakes of pyrites
are first roasted in a slow fire and afterward in a fierce one, and in
both cases, during the whole following night, water is let in, in order
that, if there is in the cakes any alum or vitriol or saltpetre capable
of injuring the metals, although it rarely does injure them, the water
may remove it and make the cakes soft. The solidified juices are nearly
all harmful to the metal, when cakes or ore of this kind are smelted.
The cakes which are to be roasted are placed on wood piled up in the
form of a crate, and this pile is fired[22].

[Illustration 351 (Matte Roasting): A--Cakes. B--Bundles of faggots.

The cakes which are made of copper smelted from schist are first thrown
upon the ground and broken, and then placed in the furnace on bundles of
faggots, and these are lighted. These cakes are generally roasted seven
times and occasionally nine times. While this is being done, if they are
bituminous, then the bitumen burns and can be smelled. These furnaces
have a structure like the structure of the furnaces in which ore is
smelted, except that they are open in front; they are six feet high and
four feet wide. As for this kind of furnace, three of them are required
for one of those in which the cakes are melted. First of all they are
roasted in the first furnace, then when they are cooled, they are
transferred into the second furnace and again roasted; later they are
carried to the third, and afterward back to the first, and this order is
preserved until they have been roasted seven or nine times.



[1] As would be expected, practically all the technical terms used by
Agricola in this chapter are adaptations. The Latin terms, _canalis_,
_area_, _lacus_, _vasa_, _cribrum_, and _fossa_, have had to be pressed
into service for many different devices, largely by extemporised
combinations. Where the devices described have become obsolete, we have
adopted the nomenclature of the old works on Cornish methods. The
following examples may be of interest:--

  Simple buddle   = _Canalis simplex_
  Divided buddle  = _Canalis tabellis distinctus_
  Ordinary strake = _Canalis devexus_
  Short strake    = _Area curta_
  Canvas strake   = _Area linteis extensis contecta_
  Limp            = _Radius_.

The strake (or streke) when applied to alluvial tin, would have been
termed a "tye" in some parts of Cornwall, and the "short strake" a
"gounce." In the case of the stamp mill, inasmuch as almost every
mechanical part has its counterpart in a modern mill, we have considered
the reader will have less difficulty if the modern designations are used
instead of the old Cornish. The following are the essential terms in
modern, old Cornish, and Latin:--

  Stamp          Stamper      _Pilum_
  Stamp-stem     Lifter       _Pilum_
  Shoes          Stamp-heads  _Capita_
  Mortar-box     Box          _Capsa_
  Cam-shaft      Barrell      _Axis_
  Cams           Caps         _Dentes_
  Tappets        Tongues      _Pili dentes_
  Screen         Crate        _Laminae foraminum plenae_
  Settling pit   Catchers     _Lacus_
  Jigging sieve  Dilleugher   _Cribrum angustum_

[2] Agricola uses four Latin verbs in connection with heat operations at
temperatures under the melting point: _Calefacio_, _uro_, _torreo_, and
_cremo_. The first he always uses in the sense of "to warm" or "to
heat," but the last three he uses indiscriminately in much the same way
as the English verbs burn, roast, and calcine are used; but in general
he uses the Latin verbs in the order given to indicate degrees of heat.
We have used the English verbs in their technical sense as indicated by
the context.

It is very difficult to say when roasting began as a distinct and
separate metallurgical step in sulphide ore treatment. The Greeks and
Romans worked both lead and copper sulphides (see note on p. 391, and
note on p. 403), but neither in the remains of old works nor in their
literature is there anything from which satisfactory details of such a
step can be obtained. The Ancients, of course, understood lime-burning,
and calcined several salts to purify them or to render them more
caustic. Practically the only specific mention is by Pliny regarding
lead ores (see p. 391). Even the statement of Theophilus (1050-1100,
A.D.), may refer simply to rendering ore more fragile, for he says (p.
305) in regard to copper ore: "This stone dug up in abundance is placed
upon a pile and burned (_comburitur_) after the manner of lime. Nor does
it change colour, but loses its hardness and can be broken up, and
afterward it is smelted." The _Probierbüchlein_ casually mentions
roasting prior to assaying, and Biringuccio (III, 2) mentions
incidentally that "dry and ill-disposed ores before everything must be
roasted in an open oven so that the air can get in." He gives no further
information; and therefore this account of Agricola's becomes
practically the first. Apparently roasting, as a preliminary to the
treatment of copper sulphides, did not come into use in England until
some time later than Agricola, for in Col. Grant Francis' "Smelting of
Copper in the Swansea District" (London, 1881, p. 29), a report is set
of the "Doeinges of Jochim Ganse"--an imported German--at the "Mynes by
Keswicke in Cumberland, A.D., 1581," wherein the delinquencies of the
then current practice are described: "Thei never coulde, nether yet can
make (copper) under XXII. tymes passinge thro the fire, and XXII. weekes
doeing thereof ane sometyme more. But now the nature of these IX.
hurtfull humors abovesaid being discovered and opened by Jochim's way of
doeing, we can, by his order of workeinge, so correct theim, that parte
of theim beinge by nature hurtfull to the copper in wasteinge of it, ar
by arte maide freindes, and be not onely an encrease to the copper, but
further it in smeltinge; and the rest of the other evill humors shalbe
so corrected, and their humors so taken from them, that by once
rosteinge and once smeltinge the ure (which shalbe done in the space of
three dayes), the same copper ure shall yeeld us black copper." Jochim
proposed by 'rostynge' to be rid of "sulphur, arsineque, and antimony."

[3] _Orpiment_ and _realgar_ are the red and yellow arsenical sulphides.
(See note on p. 111).

[4] _Cadmia bituminosa_. The description of this substance by Agricola,
given below, indicates that it was his term for the complex
copper-zinc-arsenic-cobalt minerals found in the well-known, highly
bituminous, copper schists at Mannsfeld. The later Mineralogists,
Wallerius (_Mineralogia_, Stockholm, 1747), Valmont De Bomare
(_Mineralogie_, Paris, 1762), and others assume Agricola's _cadmia
bituminosa_ to be "black arsenic" or "arsenic noir," but we see no
reason for this assumption. Agricola's statement (_De Nat. Foss._, p.
369) is "... the schistose stone dug up at the foot of the Melibocus
Mountains, or as they are now called the Harz (_Hercynium_), near
Eisleben, Mannsfeld, and near Hettstedt, is similar to _spinos_ (a
bituminous substance described by Theophrastus), if not identical with
it. This is black, bituminous, and cupriferous, and when first extracted
from the mine it is thrown out into an open space and heaped up in a
mound. Then the lower part of the mound is surrounded by faggots, on to
which are likewise thrown stones of the same kind. Then the faggots are
kindled and the fire soon spreads to the stones placed upon them; by
these the fire is communicated to the next, which thus spreads to the
whole heap. This easy reception of fire is a characteristic which
bitumen possesses in common with sulphur. Yet the small, pure and black
bituminous ore is distinguished from the stones as follows: when they
burn they emit the kind of odour which is usually given off by burning
bituminous coal, and besides, if while they are burning a small shower
of rain should fall, they burn more brightly and soften more quickly.
Indeed, when the wind carries the fumes so that they descend into nearby
standing waters, there can be seen floating in it something like a
bituminous liquid, either black, or brown, or purple, which is
sufficient to indicate that those stones were bituminous. And that genus
of stones has been recently found in the Harz in layers, having
occasionally gold-coloured specks of pyrites adhering to them,
representing various flat sea-fish or pike or perch or birds, and
poultry cocks, and sometimes salamanders."

[5] _Atramentum sutorium rubrum_. Literally, this would be red vitriol.
The German translation gives _rot kupferwasser_, also red vitriol. We
must confess that we cannot make this substance out, nor can we find it
mentioned in the other works of Agricola. It may be the residue from
leaching roasted pyrites for vitriol, which would be reddish oxide of

[6] The statement "elsewhere" does not convey very much more
information. It is (_De Nat. Fos._, p. 253): "When Goslar pyrites and
Eisleben (copper) schists are placed on the pyre and roasted for the
third time, they both exude a certain substance which is of a greenish
colour, dry, rough, and fibrous (_tenue_). This substance, like
asbestos, is not consumed by the fire. The schists exude it more
plentifully than the pyrites." The _Interpretatio_ gives _federwis_, as
the German equivalent of _amiantus_ (asbestos). This term was used for
the feathery alum efflorescence on aluminous slates.

[7] Bearing in mind that bituminous cadmia contained arsenical-cobalt
minerals, this substance "resembling _pompholyx_" would probably be
arsenic oxide. In _De Natura Fossilium_ (p. 368). Agricola discusses the
_pompholyx_ from _cadmia_ at length and pronounces it to be of
remarkably "corrosive" quality. (See also note on p. 112.)

no question that the first step in the metallurgy of ores was direct
smelting, and that this antedates human records. The obvious advantages
of reducing the bulk of the material to be smelted by the elimination of
barren portions of the ore, must have appealed to metallurgists at a
very early date. Logically, therefore, we should find the second step in
metallurgy to be concentration in some form. The question of crushing is
so much involved with concentration that we have not endeavoured to keep
them separate. The earliest indication of these processes appears to be
certain inscriptions on monuments of the IV Dynasty (4,000 B.C.?)
depicting gold washing (Wilkinson, The Ancient Egyptians, London, 1874,
II, p. 137). Certain stelae of the XII Dynasty (2,400 B.C.) in the
British Museum (144 Bay 1 and 145 Bay 6) refer to gold washing in the
Sudan, and one of them appears to indicate the working of gold ore as
distinguished from alluvial. The first written description of the
Egyptian methods--and probably that reflecting the most ancient
technology of crushing and concentration--is that of Agatharchides, a
Greek geographer of the second Century B.C. This work is lost, but the
passage in question is quoted by Diodorus Siculus (1st Century B.C.) and
by Photius (died 891 A.D.). We give Booth's translation of Diodorus
(London, 1700, p. 89), slightly amended: "In the confines of Egypt and
the neighbouring countries of Arabia and Ethiopia there is a place full
of rich gold mines, out of which with much cost and pains of many
labourers gold is dug. The soil here is naturally black, but in the body
of the earth run many white veins, shining like white marble, surpassing
in lustre all other bright things. Out of these laborious mines, those
appointed overseers cause the gold to be dug up by the labour of a vast
multitude of people. For the Kings of Egypt condemn to these mines
notorious criminals, captives taken in war, persons sometimes falsely
accused, or against whom the King is incens'd; and not only they
themselves, but sometimes all their kindred and relations together with
them, are sent to work here, both to punish them, and by their labour to
advance the profit and gain of the Kings. There are infinite numbers
upon these accounts thrust down into these mines, all bound in fetters,
where they work continually, without being admitted any rest night or
day, and so strictly guarded that there is no possibility or way left to
make an escape. For they set over them barbarians, soldiers of various
and strange languages, so that it is not possible to corrupt any of the
guard by discoursing one with another, or by the gaining insinuations of
familiar converse. The earth which is hardest and full of gold they
soften by putting fire under it, and then work it out with their hands.
The rocks thus soften'd and made more pliant and yielding, several
thousands of profligate wretches break in pieces with hammers and
pickaxes. There is one artist that is the overseer of the whole work,
who marks out the stone, and shows the labourers the way and manner how
he would have it done. Those that are the strongest amongst them that
are appointed to this slavery, provided with sharp iron pickaxes, cleave
the marble-shining rock by mere force and strength, and not by arts or
sleight-of-hand. They undermine not the rock in a direct line, but
follow the bright shining vein of the mine. They carry lamps fastened to
their foreheads to give them light, being otherwise in perfect darkness
in the various windings and turnings wrought in the mine; and having
their bodies appearing sometimes of one colour and sometimes of another
(according to the nature of the mine where they work) they throw the
lumps and pieces of the stone cut out of the rock upon the floor. And
thus they are employed continually without intermission, at the very nod
of the overseer, who lashes them severely besides. And there are little
boys who penetrate through the galleries into the cavities and with
great labour and toil gather up the lumps and pieces hewed out of the
rock as they are cast upon the ground, and carry them forth and lay them
upon the bank. Those that are over thirty years of age take a piece of
the rock of such a certain quantity, and pound it in a stone mortar with
iron pestles till it be as small as a vetch; then those little stones so
pounded are taken from them by women and older men, who cast them into
mills that stand together there near at hand in a long row, and two or
three of them being employed at one mill they grind a certain measure
given to them at a time, until it is as small as fine meal. No care at
all is taken of the bodies of these poor creatures, so that they have
not a rag so much as to cover their nakedness, and no man that sees them
can choose but commiserate their sad and deplorable condition. For
though they are sick, maimed, or lame, no rest nor intermission in the
least is allowed them; neither the weakness of old age, nor women's
infirmities are any plea to excuse them; but all are driven to their
work with blows and cudgelling, till at length, overborne with the
intolerable weight of their misery, they drop down dead in the midst of
their insufferable labours; so that these miserable creatures always
expect the future to be more terrible than even the present, and
therefore long for death as far more desirable than life.

"At length the masters of the work take the stone thus ground to powder,
and carry it away in order to perfect it. They spread the mineral so
ground upon a broad board, somewhat sloping, and pouring water upon it,
rub it and cleanse it; and so all the earthy and drossy part being
separated from the rest by the water, it runs off the board, and the
gold by reason of its weight remains behind. Then washing it several
times again, they first rub it lightly with their hands; afterward they
draw off any earthy and drossy matter with slender sponges gently
applied to the powdered dust, till it be clean, pure gold. At last other
workmen take it away by weight and measure, and these put it into
earthen pots, and according to the quantity of the gold in every pot
they mix with it some lead, grains of salt, a little tin and barley
bran. Then, covering every pot close, and carefully daubing them over
with clay, they put them in a furnace, where they abide five days and
nights together; then after a convenient time that they have stood to
cool, nothing of the other matter is to be found in the pots but only
pure, refined gold, some little thing diminished in the weight. And thus
gold is prepared in the borders of Egypt, and perfected and completed
with so many and so great toils and vexations. And, therefore, I cannot
but conclude that nature itself teaches us, that as gold is got with
labour and toil, so it is kept with difficulty; it creates everywhere
the greatest cares; and the use of it is mixed both with pleasure and

The remains at Mt. Laurion show many of the ancient mills and
concentration works of the Greeks, but we cannot be absolutely certain
at what period in the history of these mines crushing and concentration
were introduced. While the mines were worked with great activity prior
to 500 B.C. (see note 6, p. 27), it was quite feasible for the ancient
miner to have smelted these argentiferous lead ores direct. However, at
some period prior to the decadence of the mines in the 3rd Century B.C.,
there was in use an extensive system of milling and concentration. For
the following details we are indebted mostly to Edouard Ardaillon (_Les
Mines Du Laurion dans l'Antiquité_, Chap. IV.). The ore was first
hand-picked (in 1869 one portion of these rejects was estimated at
7,000,000 tons) and afterward it was apparently crushed in stone mortars
some 16 to 24 inches in diameter, and thence passed to the mills. These
mills, which crushed dry, were of the upper and lower millstone order,
like the old-fashioned flour mills, and were turned by hand. The stones
were capable of adjustment in such a way as to yield different sizes.
The sand was sifted and the oversize returned to the mills. From the
mills it was taken to washing plants, which consisted essentially of an
inclined area, below which a canal, sometimes with riffles, led through
a series of basins, ultimately returning the water again to near the
head of the area. These washing areas, constructed with great care, were
made of stone cemented over smoothly, and were so efficiently done as to
remain still intact. In washing, a workman brushed upward the pulp
placed on the inclined upper portion of the area, thus concentrating
there a considerable proportion of the galena; what escaped had an
opportunity to settle in the sequence of basins, somewhat on the order
of the buddle. A quotation by Strabo (III, 2, 10) from the lost work of
Polybius (200-125 B.C.) also indicates concentration of lead-silver ores
in Spain previous to the Christian era: "Polybius speaking of the silver
mines of New Carthage, tells us that they are extremely large, distant
from the city about 20 stadia, and occupy a circuit of 400 stadia, that
there are 40,000 men regularly engaged in them, and that they yield
daily to the Roman people (a revenue of) 25,000 drachmae. The rest of
the process I pass over, as it is too long, but as for the silver ore
collected, he tells us that it is broken up, and sifted through sieves
over water; that what remains is to be again broken, and the water
having been strained off, it is to be sifted and broken a third time.
The dregs which remain after the fifth time are to be melted, and the
lead being poured off, the silver is obtained pure. These silver mines
still exist; however, they are no longer the property of the state,
neither these nor those elsewhere, but are possessed by private
individuals. The gold mines, on the contrary, nearly all belong to the
state. Both at Castlon and other places there are singular lead mines
worked. They contain a small proportion of silver, but not sufficient to
pay for the expense of refining." (Hamilton's Translation, Vol. I., p.
222). While Pliny gives considerable information on vein mining and on
alluvial washing, the following obscure passage (XXXIII, 21) appears to
be the only reference to concentration of ores: "That which is dug out
is crushed, washed, roasted, and ground to powder. This powder is called
_apitascudes_, while the silver (lead?) which becomes disengaged in the
furnace is called _sudor_ (sweat). That which is ejected from the
chimney is called _scoria_ as with other metals. In the case of gold
this _scoria_ is crushed and melted again." It is evident enough from
these quotations that the Ancients by "washing" and "sifting," grasped
the practical effect of differences in specific gravity of the various
components of an ore. Such processes are barely mentioned by other
mediæval authors, such as Theophilus, Biringuccio, etc., and thus the
account in this chapter is the first tangible technical description.
Lead mining has been in active progress in Derbyshire since the 13th
century, and concentration was done on an inclined board until the 16th
century, when William Humphrey (see below) introduced the jigging sieve.
Some further notes on this industry will be found in note 1, p. 77.
However, the buddle and strake which appear at that time, are but modest
improvements over the board described by Agatharchides in the quotation

The ancient crushing appliances, as indicated by the ancient authors and
by the Greek and Roman remains scattered over Europe, were hand-mortars
and mill-stones of the same order as those with which they ground flour.
The stamp-mill, the next advance over grinding in mill-stones, seems to
have been invented some time late in the 15th or early in the 16th
centuries, but who invented it is unknown. Beckmann (Hist. of
Inventions, II, p. 335) says: "In the year 1519 the process of sifting
and wet-stamping was established at Joachimsthal by Paul Grommestetter,
a native of Schwarz, named on that account the Schwarzer, whom Melzer
praises as an ingenious and active washer; and we are told that he had
before introduced the same improvements at Schneeberg. Soon after, that
is in 1521, a large stamping-work was erected at Joachimsthal, and the
process of washing was begun. A considerable saving was thus made, as a
great many metallic particles were before left in the washed sand, which
was either thrown away or used as mortar for building. In the year 1525,
Hans Pörtner employed at Schlackenwalde the wet method of stamping,
whereas before that period the ore there was ground. In the Harz this
invention was introduced at Wildenmann by Peter Philip, who was
assay-master there soon after the works at the Upper Harz were resumed
by Duke Henry the Younger, about the year 1524. This we learn from the
papers of Herdan Hacke or Haecke, who was preacher at Wildenmann in

In view of the great amount of direct and indirect reference to tin
mining in Cornwall, covering four centuries prior to Agricola, it would
be natural to expect some statement bearing upon the treatment of ore.
Curiously enough, while alluvial washing and smelting of the black-tin
are often referred to, there is nothing that we have been able to find,
prior to Richard Carew's "Survey of Cornwall" (London, 1602, p. 12)
which gives any tangible evidence on the technical phases of
ore-dressing. In any event, an inspection of charters, tax-rolls,
Stannary Court proceedings, etc., prior to that date gives the
impression that vein mining was a very minor portion of the source of
production. Although Carew's work dates 45 years after Agricola, his
description is of interest: "As much almost dooth it exceede credite,
that the Tynne, for and in so small quantitie digged up with so great
toyle, and passing afterwards thorow the managing of so many hands, ere
it comes to sale, should be any way able to acquite the cost: for being
once brought above ground in the stone, it is first broken in peeces
with hammers; and then carryed, either in waynes, or on horses' backs,
to a stamping mill, where three, and in some places sixe great logges of
timber, bounde at the ends with yron, and lifted up and downe by a
wheele, driven with the water, doe break it smaller. If the stones be
over-moyst, they are dried by the fire in an yron cradle or grate. From
the stamping mill, it passeth to the crazing mill, which betweene two
grinding stones, turned also with a water-wheel, bruseth the same to a
find sand; howbeit, of late times they mostly use wet stampers, and so
have no need of the crazing mills for their best stuffe, but only for
the crust of their tayles. The streame, after it hath forsaken the mill,
is made to fall by certayne degrees, one somewhat distant from another;
upon each of which, at every discent, lyeth a greene turfe, three or
foure foote square, and one foote thick. On this the Tinner layeth a
certayne portion of the sandie Tinne, and with his shovel softly tosseth
the same to and fro, that, through this stirring, the water which
runneth over it may wash away the light earth from the Tinne, which of a
heavier substance lyeth fast on the turfe. Having so clensed one
portion, he setteth the same aside, and beginneth with another, until
his labour take end with his taske. The best of those turfes (for all
sorts serve not) are fetched about two miles to the eastwards of S.
Michael's Mount, where at low water they cast aside the sand, and dig
them up; they are full of rootes of trees, and on some of them nuts have
been found, which confirmeth my former assertion of the sea's intrusion.
After it is thus washed, they put the remnant into a wooden dish, broad,
flat, and round, being about two foote over, and having two handles
fastened at the sides, by which they softly shogge the same to and fro
in the water betweene their legges, as they sit over it, untill
whatsoever of the earthie substance that was yet left be flitted away.
Some of later time, with a sleighter invention, and lighter labour, doe
cause certayne boyes to stir it up and down with their feete, which
worketh the same effect; the residue, after this often clensing, they
call Blacke Tynne."

It will be noticed that the "wet stampers" and the buddle--worked with
"boyes feete"--are "innovations of late times." And the interesting
question arises as to whether Cornwall did not derive the stamp-mill,
buddle, and strake, from the Germans. The first adequate detailed
description of Cornish appliances is that of Pryce (_Mineralogia
Cornubiensis_, London, 1778) where the apparatus is identical with that
described by Agricola 130 years before. The word "stamper" of Cornwall
is of German origin, from _stampfer_, or, as it is often written in old
German works, _stamper_. However, the pursuit of the subject through
etymology ends here, for no derivatives in German can be found for
buddle, tye, strake, or other collateral terms. The first tangible
evidence of German influence is to be found in Carew who, continuing
after the above quotation, states: "But sithence I gathered stickes to
the building of this poore nest, Sir Francis Godolphin (whose kind helpe
hath much advanced this my playing labour) entertained a Dutch Mynerall
man, and taking light from his experience, but building thereon farre
more profitable conclusions of his owne invention, hath practised a more
saving way in these matters, and besides, made Tynne with good profit of
that refuse which Tynners rejected as nothing worth." Beyond this
quotation we can find no direct evidence of the influence of "Dutch
Mynerall men" in Cornish tin mining at this time. There can be no doubt,
however, that in copper mining in Cornwall and elsewhere in England, the
"Dutch Mynerall men" did play a large part in the latter part of the
16th Century. Pettus (_Fodinæ Regales_, London, 1670, p. 20) states that
"about the third year of Queen Elizabeth (1561) she by the advice of her
Council sent over for some Germans experienced in mines, and being
supplied, she, on the tenth of October, in the sixth of her reign,
granted the mines of eight counties ... to Houghsetter, a German whose
name and family still continue in Cardiganshire." Elizabeth granted
large mining rights to various Germans, and the opening paragraphs of
two out of several Charters may be quoted in point. This grant is dated
1565, and in part reads: "ELIZABETH, by the Grace of God, Queen of
England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. To all Men to
whom these Letters Patents shall come, Greeting. Where heretofore we
have granted Privileges to Cornelius de Voz, for the Mining and Digging
in our Realm of England, for Allom and Copperas, and for divers Ewers of
Metals that were to be found in digging for the said Allom and Copperas,
incidently and consequently without fraud or guile, as by the same our
Privilege may appear. And where we also moved, by credible Report to us
made, of one Daniel Houghsetter, a German born, and of his Skill and
Knowledge of and in all manner of Mines, of Metals and Minerals, have
given and granted Privilege to Thomas Thurland, Clerk, one of our
Chaplains, and Master of the Hospital of Savoy, and to the same Daniel,
for digging and mining for all manner of Ewers of Gold, Silver, Copper,
and Quicksilver, within our Counties of York, Lancaster, Cumberland,
Westmorland, Cornwall, Devon, Gloucester, and Worcester, and within our
Principality of Wales; and with the same further to deal, as by our said
Privilege thereof granted and made to the said Thomas Thurland and
Daniel Houghsetter may appear. _And_ we now being minded that the said
Commodities, and all other Treasures of the Earth, in all other Places
of our Realm of England...." On the same date another grant reads:
"ELIZABETH, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, France, and Ireland,
Defender of the Faith, &c. To all Men to whom these our Letters Patents
shall come, Greeting. Where we have received credible Information that
our faithful and well-beloved Subject William Humfrey, Saymaster of our
Mint within our Tower of London, by his great Endeavour, Labour, and
Charge, hath brought into this our Realm of England one Christopher
Shutz, an Almain, born at _St. Annen Berg_, under the Obedience of the
Electer of Saxony; a Workman as it is reported, of great Cunning,
Knowledge, and Experience, as well in the finding of the Calamin Stone,
call'd in Latin, _lapis calaminaris_, and in the right and proper use
and commodity thereof, for the Composition of the mix'd Metal commonly
call'd _latten_, etc." Col. Grant-Francis, in his most valuable
collection (Smelting of Copper in the Swansea District, London, 1881)
has published a collection of correspondence relating to early mining
and smelting operations in Great Britain. And among them (p. 1., etc.)
are letters in the years 1583-6 from William Carnsewe and others to
Thomas Smyth, with regard to the first smelter erected at Neath, which
was based upon copper mines in Cornwall. He mentions "Mr. Weston's (a
partner) provydence in bringynge hys Dutch myners hether to aplye such
businys in this countrye ys more to be commendyd than his ignorance of
our countrymen's actyvytyes in suche matters." The principal "Dutche
Mineral Master" referred to was one Ulrick Frosse, who had charge of the
mine at Perin Sands in Cornwall, and subsequently of the smelter at
Neath. Further on is given (p. 25) a Report by Jochim Gaunse upon the
Smelting of copper ores at Keswick in Cumberland in 1581, referred to in
note 2, p. 267. The Daniel Hochstetter mentioned in the Charter above,
together with other German and English gentlemen, formed the "Company of
Mines Royal" and among the properties worked were those with which
Gaunse's report is concerned. There is in the Record Office, London
(Exchequer K.R. Com. Derby 611. Eliz.) the record of an interesting
inquisition into Derbyshire methods in which a then recent great
improvement was the jigging sieve, the introduction of which was due to
William Humphrey (mentioned above). It is possible that he learned of it
from the German with whom he was associated. Much more evidence of the
activity of the Germans in English mining at this period can be adduced.

On the other hand, Cornwall has laid claims to having taught the art of
tin mining and metallurgy to the Germans. Matthew Paris, a Benedictine
monk, by birth an Englishman, who died in 1259, relates (_Historia Major
Angliae_, London, 1571) that a Cornishman who fled to Germany on account
of a murder, first discovered tin there in 1241, and that in consequence
the price of tin fell greatly. This statement is recalled with great
persistence by many writers on Cornwall. (Camden, _Britannia_, London,
1586; Borlase, Natural History of Cornwall, Oxford, 1758; Pryce,
_Mineralogia Cornubiensis_, London, 1778, p. 70, and others).

[11] _Lapidibus liquescentibus_. (See note 15, p. 380).

[12] HISTORICAL NOTE ON AMALGAMATION. The recovery of gold by the use of
mercury possibly dates from Roman times, but the application of the
process to silver does not seem to go back prior to the 16th Century.
Quicksilver was well-known to the Greeks, and is described by
Theophrastus (105) and others (see note 58, p. 432, on quicksilver).
However, the Greeks made no mention of its use for amalgamation, and, in
fact, Dioscorides (V, 70) says "it is kept in vessels of glass, lead,
tin or silver; if kept in vessels of any other kind it consumes them and
flows away." It was used by them for medicinal purposes. The Romans
amalgamated gold with mercury, but whether they took advantage of the
principle to recover gold from ores we do not know. Vitruvius (VII, 8)
makes the following statement:--"If quicksilver be placed in a vessel
and a stone of a hundred pounds' weight be placed on it, it will swim at
the top, and will, notwithstanding its weight, be incapable of pressing
the liquid so as to break or separate it. If this be taken out, and only
a single scruple of gold be put in, that will not swim, but immediately
descend to the bottom. This is a proof that the gravity of a body does
not depend on its weight, but on its nature. Quicksilver is used for
many purposes; without it, neither silver nor brass can be properly
gilt. When gold is embroidered on a garment which is worn out and no
longer fit for use, the cloth is burnt over the fire in earthen pots;
the ashes are thrown into water and quicksilver added to them; this
collects all the particles of gold and unites with them. The water is
then poured off and the residuum placed in a cloth, which, when squeezed
with the hands, suffers the liquid quicksilver to pass through the pores
of the cloth, but retains the gold in a mass within it." (Gwilt's
Trans., p. 217). Pliny is rather more explicit (XXXIII, 32): "All floats
on it (quicksilver) except gold. This it draws into itself, and on that
account is the best means of purifying; for, on being repeatedly
agitated in earthen pots it casts out the other things and the
impurities. These things being rejected, in order that it may give up
the gold, it is squeezed in prepared skins, through which, exuding like
perspiration, it leaves the gold pure." It may be noted particularly
that both these authors state that gold is the only substance that does
not float, and, moreover, nowhere do we find any reference to silver
combining with mercury, although Beckmann (Hist. of Inventions, Vol. I,
p. 14) not only states that the above passage from Pliny refers to
silver, but in further error, attributes the origin of silver
amalgamation of ores to the Spaniards in the Indies.

The Alchemists of the Middle Ages were well aware that silver would
amalgamate with mercury. There is, however, difficulty in any conclusion
that it was applied by them to separating silver or gold from ore. The
involved gibberish in which most of their utterances was couched,
obscures most of their reactions in any event. The School of Geber
(Appendix B) held that all metals were a compound of "spiritual" mercury
and sulphur, and they clearly amalgamated silver with mercury, and
separated them by distillation. The _Probierbüchlein_ (1520?) describes
a method of recovering silver from the cement used in parting gold and
silver, by mixing the cement (silver chlorides) with quicksilver.
Agricola nowhere in this work mentions the treatment of silver ores by
amalgamation, although he was familiar with Biringuccio (_De La
Pirotechnia_), as he himself mentions in the Preface. This work,
published at least ten years before _De Re Metallica_, contains the
first comprehensive account of silver amalgamation. There is more than
usual interest in the description, because, not only did it precede _De
Re Metallica_, but it is also a specific explanation of the fundamental
essentials of the Patio Process long before the date when the Spaniards
could possibly have invented that process in Mexico. We quote Mr. A.
Dick's translation from Percy (Metallurgy of Silver and Gold, p. 560):

"He was certainly endowed with much useful and ingenious thought who
invented the short method of extracting metal from the sweepings
produced by those arts which have to do with gold and silver, every
substance left in the refuse by smelters, and also the substance from
certain ores themselves, without the labour of fusing, but by the sole
means and virtue of mercury. To effect this, a large basin is first
constructed of stone or timber and walled, into which is fitted a
millstone made to turn like that of a mill. Into the hollow of this
basin is placed matter containing gold (_della materia vra che tiene
oro_), well ground in a mortar and afterward washed and dried; and, with
the above-mentioned millstone, it is ground while being moistened with
vinegar, or water, in which has been dissolved corrosive sublimate
(_solimato_), verdigris (_verde rame_), and common salt. Over these
materials is then put as much mercury as will cover them; they are then
stirred for an hour or two, by turning the millstone, either by hand, or
horse-power, according to the plan adopted, bearing in mind that the
more the mercury and the materials are bruised together by the
millstone, the more the mercury may be trusted to have taken up the
substance which the materials contain. The mercury, in this condition,
can then be separated from the earthy matter by a sieve, or by washing,
and thus you will recover the auriferous mercury (_el vro mercurio_).
After this, by driving off the mercury by means of a flask (_i.e._, by
heating in a retort or an alembic), or by passing it through a bag,
there will remain, at the bottom, the gold, silver, or copper, or
whatever metal was placed in the basin under the millstone to be ground.
Having been desirous of knowing this secret, I gave to him who taught it
to me a ring with a diamond worth 25 ducats; he also required me to give
him the eighth part of any profit I might make by using it. This I
wished to tell you, not that you should return the ducats to me for
teaching you the secret, but in order that you should esteem it all the
more and hold it dear."

In another part of the treatise Biringuccio states that washed
(concentrated) ores may be ultimately reduced either by lead or mercury.
Concerning these silver concentrates he writes: "Afterward drenching
them with vinegar in which has been put green copper (_i.e._,
verdigris); or drenching them with water in which has been dissolved
vitriol and green copper...." He next describes how this material should
be ground with mercury. The question as to who was the inventor of
silver amalgamation will probably never be cleared up. According to
Ulloa (_Relacion Historica Del Viage a la America Meridional_, Madrid,
1748) Dom Pedro Fernandes De Velasco discovered the process in Mexico in
1566. The earliest technical account is that of Father Joseph De Acosta
(_Historia Natural y Moral de las Indias_, Seville, 1590, English trans.
Edward Grimston, London, 1604, re-published by the Hakluyt Society,
1880). Acosta was born in 1540, and spent the years 1570 to 1585 in
Peru, and 1586 in Mexico. It may be noted that Potosi was discovered in
1545. He states that refining silver with mercury was introduced at
Potosi by Pedro Fernandes de Velasco from Mexico in 1571, and states
(Grimston's Trans., Vol. I, p. 219): "... They put the powder of the
metall into the vessels upon furnaces, whereas they anoint it and
mortifie it with brine, putting to every fiftie quintalles of powder
five quintalles of salt. And this they do for that the salt separates
the earth and filth, to the end the quicksilver may the more easily draw
the silver unto it. After, they put quicksilver into a piece of holland
and presse it out upon the metall, which goes forth like a dewe, alwaies
turning and stirring the metall, to the end it may be well incorporate.
Before the invention of these furnaces of fire, they did often mingle
their metall with quicksilver in great troughes, letting it settle some
daies, and did then mix it and stirre it againe, until they thought all
the quicksilver were well incorporate with the silver, the which
continued twentie daies and more, and at least nine daies." Frequent
mention of the different methods of silver amalgamation is made by the
Spanish writers subsequent to this time, the best account being that of
Alonso Barba, a priest. Barba was a native of Lepe, in Andalusia, and
followed his calling at various places in Peru from about 1600 to about
1630, and at one time held the Curacy of St. Bernard at Potosi. In 1640
he published at Madrid his _Arte de los Metales_, etc., in five books.
The first two books of this work were translated into English by the
Earl of Sandwich, and published in London in 1674, under the title "The
First Book of the Art of Metals." This translation is equally wretched
with those in French and German, as might be expected from the
translators' total lack of technical understanding. Among the methods of
silver amalgamation described by Barba is one which, upon later
"discovery" at Virginia City, is now known as the "Washoe Process." None
of the Spanish writers, so far as we know, make reference to
Biringuccio's account, and the question arises whether the Patio Process
was an importation from Europe or whether it was re-invented in Mexico.
While there is no direct evidence on the point, the presumption is in
favour of the former.

The general introduction of the amalgamation of silver ores into Central
Europe seems to have been very slow, and over 200 years elapsed after
its adoption in Peru and Mexico before it received serious attention by
the German Metallurgists. Ignaz Elder v. Born was the first to establish
the process effectually in Europe, he having in 1784 erected a
"quick-mill" at Glasshutte, near Shemnitz. He published an elaborate
account of a process which he claimed as his own, under the title _Ueber
das Anquicken der Gold und Silberhältigen Erze_, Vienna, 1786. The only
thing new in his process seems to have been mechanical agitation.
According to Born, a Spaniard named Don Juan de Corduba, in the year
1588, applied to the Court at Vienna offering to extract silver from
ores with mercury. Various tests were carried out under the celebrated
Lazarus Erckern, and although it appears that some vitriol and salt were
used, the trials apparently failed, for Erckern concluded his report
with the advice: "That their Lordships should not suffer any more
expense to be thrown away upon this experiment." Born's work was
translated into English by R. E. Raspe, under the title--"Baron Inigo
Born's New Process of Amalgamation, etc.," London, 1791. Some interest
attaches to Raspe, in that he was not only the author of "Baron
Munchausen," but was also the villain in Scott's "Antiquary." Raspe was
a German Professor at Cassel, who fled to England to avoid arrest for
theft. He worked at various mines in Cornwall, and in 1791 involved Sir
John Sinclair in a fruitless mine, but disappeared before that was
known. The incident was finally used by Sir Walter Scott in this novel.

[13] _Aurum in ea remanet purum_. This same error of assuming squeezed
amalgam to be pure gold occurs in Pliny; see previous footnote.

[14] George, Duke of Saxony, surnamed "The Bearded," was born 1471, and
died 1539. He was chiefly known for his bitter opposition to the

[15] The Julian Alps are a section east of the Carnic Alps and lie north
of Trieste. The term Rhaetian Alps is applied to that section along the
Swiss Italian Boundary, about north of Lake Como.

[16] Ancient Lusitania comprised Portugal and some neighbouring portions
of Spain.

[17] Colchis, the traditional land of the Golden Fleece, lay between the
Caucasus on the north, Armenia on the south, and the Black Sea on the
west. If Agricola's account of the metallurgical purpose of the fleece
is correct, then Jason must have had real cause for complaint as to the
tangible results of his expedition. The fact that we hear nothing of the
fleece after the day it was taken from the dragon would thus support
Agricola's theory. Tons of ink have been expended during the past thirty
centuries in explanations of what the fleece really was. These
explanations range through the supernatural and metallurgical, but more
recent writers have endeavoured to construct the journey of the
Argonauts into an epic of the development of the Greek trade in gold
with the Euxine. We will not attempt to traverse them from a
metallurgical point of view further than to maintain that Agricola's
explanation is as probable and equally as ingenious as any other,
although Strabo (XI, 2, 19.) gives much the same view long before.

Alluvial mining--gold washing--being as old as the first glimmer of
civilization, it is referred to, directly or indirectly, by a great
majority of ancient writers, poets, historians, geographers, and
naturalists. Early Egyptian inscriptions often refer to this industry,
but from the point of view of technical methods the description by Pliny
is practically the only one of interest, and in Pliny's chapter on the
subject, alluvial is badly confused with vein mining. This passage
(XXXIII, 21) is as follows: "Gold is found in the world in three ways,
to say nothing of that found in India by the ants, and in Scythia by the
Griffins. The first is as gold dust found in streams, as, for instance,
in the Tagus in Spain, in the Padus in Italy, in the Hebrus in Thracia,
in the Pactolus in Asia, and in the Ganges in India; indeed, there is no
gold found more perfect than this, as the current polishes it thoroughly
by attrition.... Others by equal labour and greater expense bring rivers
from the mountain heights, often a hundred miles, for the purpose of
washing this debris. The ditches thus made are called _corrugi_, from
our word _corrivatio_, I suppose; and these entail a thousand fresh
labours. The fall must be steep, that the water may rush down from very
high places, rather than flow gently. The ditches across the valleys are
joined by aqueducts, and in other places, impassable rocks have to be
cut away and forced to make room for troughs of hollowed-out logs. Those
who cut the rocks are suspended by ropes, so that to those who watch
them from a distance, the workmen seem not so much beasts as birds.
Hanging thus, they take the levels and trace the lines which the ditch
is to take; and thus, where there is no place for man's footstep,
streams are dragged by men. The water is vitiated for washing if the
current of the stream carries mud with it. This kind of earth is called
_urium_, hence these ditches are laid out to carry the water over beds
of pebbles to avoid this _urium_. When they have reached the head of the
fall, at the top of the mountain, reservoirs are excavated a couple of
hundred feet long and wide, and about ten feet deep. In these reservoirs
there are generally five gates left, about three feet square, so that
when the reservoir is full, the gates are opened, and the torrent bursts
forth with such violence that the rocks are hurled along. When they have
reached the plain there is yet more labour. Trenches called _agogae_ are
dug for the flow of the water. The bottoms of these are spread at
regular intervals with _ulex_ to catch the gold. This _ulex_ is similar
to rosemary, rough and prickly. The sides, too, are closed in with
planks and are suspended when crossing precipitous spots. The earth is
carried to the sea and thus the shattered mountain is washed away and
scattered; and this deposition of the earth in the sea has extended the
shore of Spain.... The gold procured from _arrugiae_ does not require to
be melted, but is already pure gold. It is found in lumps, in shafts as
well, sometimes even exceeding ten _librae_ in weight. These lumps are
called _palagae_ and _palacurnae_, while the small grains are called
_baluce_. The Ulex is dried and burnt and the ashes are washed on a bed
of grassy turf in order that the gold may settle thereon."

[19] _Carbunculus Carchedonius_--Carthaginian carbuncle. The German is
given by Agricola in the _Interpretatio_ as _granat_, _i.e._, garnet.

[20] As the concentration of crushed tin ore has been exhaustively
treated of already, the descriptions from here on probably refer
entirely to alluvial tin.

[21] From a metallurgical point of view all of these operations are
roasting. Even to-day, however, the expression "burning" tin is in use
in some parts of Cornwall, and in former times it was general.

[22] There can be no doubt that these are mattes, as will develop in
Book IX. The German term in the Glossary for _panes ex pyrite_ is
_stein_, the same as the modern German for matte. Orpiment and realgar
are the yellow and red arsenical sulphides. The _cadmia_ was no doubt
the cobalt-arsenic minerals (see note on p. 112). The "solidified
juices" were generally anything that could be expelled short of
smelting, _i.e._, roasted off or leached out, as shown in note 4, p. 1;
they embrace the sulphates, salts, sulphur, bitumen, and arsenical
sulphides, etc. For further information on leaching out the sulphates,
alum, etc., see note 10, p. 564.


Since I have written of the varied work of preparing the ores, I will
now write of the various methods of smelting them. Although those who
burn, roast and calcine[2] the ore, take from it something which is
mixed or combined with the metals; and those who crush it with stamps
take away much; and those who wash, screen and sort it, take away still
more; yet they cannot remove all which conceals the metal from the eye
and renders it crude and unformed. Wherefore smelting is necessary, for
by this means earths, solidified juices, and stones are separated from
the metals so that they obtain their proper colour and become pure, and
may be of great use to mankind in many ways. When the ore is smelted,
those things which were mixed with the metal before it was melted are
driven forth, because the metal is perfected by fire in this manner.
Since metalliferous ores differ greatly amongst themselves, first as to
the metals which they contain, then as to the quantity of the metal
which is in them, and then by the fact that some are rapidly melted by
fire and others slowly, there are, therefore, many methods of smelting.
Constant practice has taught the smelters by which of these methods
they can obtain the most metal from any one ore. Moreover, while
sometimes there are many methods of smelting the same ore, by which an
equal weight of metal is melted out, yet one is done at a greater cost
and labour than the others. Ore is either melted with a furnace or
without one; if smelted with a furnace the tap-hole is either
temporarily closed or always open, and if smelted without a furnace, it
is done either in pots or in trenches. But in order to make this matter
clearer, I will describe each in detail, beginning with the buildings
and the furnaces.

A wall which will be called the "second wall" is constructed of brick
or stone, two feet and as many palms thick, in order that it may be
strong enough to bear the weight. It is built fifteen feet high, and its
length depends on the number of furnaces which are put in the works;
there are usually six furnaces, rarely more, and often less. There are
three furnace walls, a back one which is against the "second" wall, and
two side ones, of which I will speak later. These should be made of
natural stone, as this is more serviceable than burnt bricks, because
bricks soon become defective and crumble away, when the smelter or his
deputy chips off the accretions which adhere to the walls when the ore
is smelted. Natural stone resists injury by the fire and lasts a long
time, especially that which is soft and devoid of cracks; but, on the
contrary, that which is hard and has many cracks is burst asunder by the
fire and destroyed. For this reason, furnaces which are made of the
latter are easily weakened by the fire, and when the accretions are
chipped off they crumble to pieces. The front furnace wall should be
made of brick, and there should be in the lower part a mouth three palms
wide and one and a half feet high, when the hearth is completed. A hole
slanting upward, three palms long, is made through the back furnace
wall, at the height of a cubit, before the hearth has been prepared;
through this hole and a hole one foot long in the "second" wall--as the
back of this wall has an arch--is inserted a pipe of iron or bronze, in
which are fixed the nozzles of the bellows. The whole of the front
furnace wall is not more than five feet high, so that the ore may be
conveniently put into the furnace, together with those things which the
master needs for his work of smelting. Both the side walls of the
furnace are six feet high, and the back one seven feet, and they are
three palms thick. The interior of the furnace is five palms wide, six
palms and a digit long, the width being measured by the space which lies
between the two side walls, and the length by the space between the
front and the back walls; however, the upper part of the furnace widens
out somewhat.

[Illustration 357 (Blast Furnaces): A--Furnaces. B--Forehearths.]

There are two doors in the second wall if there are six furnaces, one of
the doors being between the second and third furnaces and the other
between the fourth and fifth furnaces. They are a cubit wide and six
feet high, in order that the smelters may not have mishaps in coming and
going. It is necessary to have a door to the right of the first furnace,
and similarly one to the left of the last, whether the wall is longer or
not. The second wall is carried further when the rooms for the
cupellation furnaces, or any other building, adjoin the rooms for the
blast furnaces, these buildings being only divided by a partition. The
smelter, and the ones who attend to the first and the last furnaces, if
they wish to look at the bellows or to do anything else, go out through
the doors at the end of the wall, and the other people go through the
other doors, which are the common ones. The furnaces are placed at a
distance of six feet from one another, in order that the smelters and
their assistants may more easily sustain the fierceness of the heat.
Inasmuch as the interior of each furnace is five palms wide and each is
six feet distant from the other, and inasmuch as there is a space of
four feet three palms at the right side of the first furnace and as much
at the left side of the last furnace, and there are to be six furnaces
in one building, then it is necessary to make the second wall fifty-two
feet long; because the total of the widths of all of the furnaces is
seven and a half feet, the total of the spaces between the furnaces is
thirty feet, the space on the outer sides of the first and last furnaces
is nine feet and two palms, and the thickness of the two transverse
walls is five feet, which make a total measurement of fifty-two feet.[3]

Outside each furnace hearth there is a small pit full of powder which is
compressed by ramming, and in this manner is made the forehearth which
receives the metal flowing from the furnaces. Of this I will speak

[Illustration 358 (Blast Furnaces): A--Furnaces. B--Forehearth. C--Door.
D--Water tank. E--Stone which covers it. F--Material of the vent walls.
G--Stone which covers it. H--Pipe exhaling the vapour.]

Buried about a cubit under the forehearth and the hearth of the furnace
is a transverse water-tank, three feet long, three palms wide and a
cubit deep. It is made of stone or brick, with a stone cover, for if it
were not covered, the heat would draw the moisture from below and the
vapour might be blown into the hearth of the furnace as well as into the
forehearth, and would dampen the blast. The moisture would vitiate the
blast, and part of the metal would be absorbed and part would be mixed
with the slags, and in this manner the melting would be greatly damaged.
From each water-tank is built a walled vent, to the same depth as the
tank, but six digits wide; this vent slopes upward, and sooner or
later penetrates through to the other side of the wall, against which
the furnace is built. At the end of this vent there is an opening where
the steam, into which the water has been converted, is exhausted through
a copper or iron tube or pipe. This method of making the tank and the
vent is much the best. Another kind has a similar vent but a different
tank, for it does not lie transversely under the forehearth, but
lengthwise; it is two feet and a palm long, and a foot and three palms
wide, and a foot and a palm deep. This method of making tanks is not
condemned by us, as is the construction of those tanks without a vent;
the latter, which have no opening into the air through which the vapour
may discharge freely, are indeed to be condemned.

[Illustration 359 (Bellows for blast furnaces)]

Fifteen feet behind the second wall is constructed the first wall,
thirteen feet high. In both of these are fixed roof beams[4], which are
a foot wide and thick, and nineteen feet and a palm long; these are
placed three feet distant from one another. As the second wall is two
feet higher than the first wall, recesses are cut in the back of it two
feet high, one foot wide, and a palm deep, and in these recesses, as it
were in mortises, are placed one end of each of the beams. Into these
ends are mortised the bottoms of just as many posts; these posts are
twenty-four feet high, three palms wide and thick, and from the tops of
the posts the same number of rafters stretch downward to the ends of the
beams superimposed on the first wall; the upper ends of the rafters are
mortised into the posts and the lower ends are mortised into the ends of
the beams laid on the first wall; the rafters support the roof, which
consists of burnt tiles. Each separate rafter is propped up by a
separate timber, which is a cross-beam, and is joined to its post.
Planks close together are affixed to the posts above the furnaces; these
planks are about two digits thick and a palm wide, and they, together
with the wicker work interposed between the timbers, are covered with
lute so that there may be no risk of fire to the timbers and
wicker-work. In this practical manner is constructed the back part of
the works, which contains the bellows, their frames, the mechanism for
compressing the bellows, and the instrument for distending them, of all
of which I will speak hereafter.

[Illustration 361 (Plan of Smelter Building): The four long walls:
A--First. B--Second. C--Third. D--Fourth. The seven transverse walls:
E--First. F--Second. G--Third. H--Fourth. I--Fifth. K--Sixth.
L--Seventh, or middle.]

In front of the furnaces is constructed the third long wall and likewise
the fourth. Both are nine feet high, but of the same length and
thickness as the other two, the fourth being nine feet distant from the
third; the third is twenty-one and a half feet from the second. At a
distance of twelve feet from the second wall, four posts seven and a
half feet high, a cubit wide and thick, are set upon rock laid
underneath. Into the tops of the posts the roof beam is mortised; this
roof beam is two feet and as many palms longer than the distance between
the second and the fifth transverse walls, in order that its ends may
rest on the transverse walls. If there should not be so long a beam at
hand, two are substituted for it. As the length of the long beam is as
above, and as the posts are equidistant, it is necessary that the posts
should be a distance of nine feet, one palm, two and two-fifths digits
from each other, and the end ones this distance from the transverse
walls. On this longitudinal beam and to the third and fourth walls are
fixed twelve secondary beams twenty-four feet long, one foot wide, three
palms thick, and distant from each other three feet, one palm, and two
digits. In these secondary beams, where they rest on the longitudinal
beams, are mortised the ends of the same number of rafters as there are
posts which stand on the second wall. The ends of the rafters do not
reach to the tops of the posts, but are two feet away from them, that
through this opening, which is like the open part of a forge, the
furnaces can emit their fumes. In order that the rafters should not fall
down, they are supported partly by iron rods, which extend from each
rafter to the opposite post, and partly supported by a few tie-beams,
which in the same manner extend from some rafters to the posts opposite,
and give them stability. To these tie-beams, as well as to the rafters
which face the posts, a number of boards, about two digits thick and a
palm wide, are fixed at a distance of a palm from each other, and are
covered with lute so that they do not catch fire. In the secondary
beams, where they are laid on the fourth wall, are mortised the lower
ends of the same number of rafters as those in a set of rafters[5]
opposite them. From the third long wall these rafters are joined and
tied to the ends of the opposite rafters, so that they may not slip, and
besides they are strengthened with substructures which are made of cross
and oblique timbers. The rafters support the roof.

In this manner the front part of the building is made, and is divided
into three parts; the first part is twelve feet wide and is under the
hood, which consists of two walls, one vertical and one inclined. The
second part is the same number of feet wide and is for the reception of
the ore to be smelted, the fluxes, the charcoal, and other things which
are needed by the smelter. The third part is nine feet wide and contains
two separate rooms of equal size, in one of which is the assay furnace,
while the other contains the metal to be melted in the cupellation
furnaces. It is thus necessary that in the building there should be,
besides the four long walls, seven transverse walls, of which the first
is constructed from the upper end of the first long wall to the upper
end of the second long wall; the second proceeds from the end of this to
the end of the third long wall; the third likewise from this end of the
last extends to the end of the fourth long wall; the fourth leads from
the lower end of the first long wall to the lower end of the second long
wall; the fifth extends from the end of this to the end of the third
long wall; the sixth extends from this last end to the end of the fourth
long wall; the seventh divides into two parts the space between the
third and fourth long walls.

To return to the back part of the building, in which, as I said, are the
bellows[6], their frames, the machinery for compressing them, and the
instrument for distending them. Each bellows consists of a body and a
head. The body is composed of two "boards," two bows, and two hides. The
upper board is a palm thick, five feet and three palms long, and two and
a half feet wide at the back part, where each of the sides is a little
curved, and it is a cubit wide at the front part near the head. The
whole of the body of the bellows tapers toward the head. That which we
now call the "board" consists of two pieces of pine, joined and glued
together, and of two strips of linden wood which bind the edges of the
board, these being seven digits wide at the back, and in front near the
head of the bellows one and a half digits wide. These strips are glued
to the boards, so that there shall be less damage from the iron nails
driven through the hide. There are some people who do not surround the
boards with strips, but use boards only, which are very thick. The upper
board has an aperture and a handle; the aperture is in the middle of the
board and is one foot three palms distant from where the board joins the
head of the bellows, and is six digits long and four wide. The lid for
this aperture is two palms and a digit long and wide, and three digits
thick; toward the back of the lid is a little notch cut into the surface
so that it may be caught by the hand; a groove is cut out of the top of
the front and sides, so that it may engage in mouldings a palm wide and
three digits thick, which are also cut out in a similar manner under the
edges. Now, when the lid is drawn forward the hole is closed, and when
drawn back it is opened; the smelter opens the aperture a little so that
the air may escape from the bellows through it, if he fears the hides
might be burst when the bellows are too vigorously and quickly inflated;
he, however, closes the aperture if the hides are ruptured and the air
escapes. Others perforate the upper board with two or three round holes
in the same place as the rectangular one, and they insert plugs in them
which they draw out when it is necessary. The wooden handle is seven
palms long, or even longer, in order that it may extend outside;
one-half of this handle, two palms wide and one thick, is glued to the
end of the board and fastened with pegs covered with glue; the other
half projects beyond the board, and is rounded and seven digits thick.
Besides this, to the handle and to the board is fixed a cleat two feet
long, as many palms wide and one palm thick, and to the under side of
the same board, at a distance of three palms from the end, is fixed
another cleat two feet long, in order that the board may sustain the
force of distension and compression; these two cleats are glued to the
board, and are fastened to it with pegs covered with glue.

The lower bellows-board, like the upper, is made of two pieces of pine
and of two strips of linden wood, all glued together; it is of the same
width and thickness as the upper board, but is a cubit longer, this
extension being part of the head of which I have more to say a little
later. This lower bellows-board has an air-hole and an iron ring. The
air-hole is about a cubit distant from the posterior end, and it is
midway between the sides of the bellows-board, and is a foot long and
three palms wide; it is divided into equal parts by a small rib which
forms part of the board, and is not cut from it; this rib is a palm long
and one-third of a digit wide. The flap of the air-hole is a foot and
three digits long, three palms and as many digits wide; it is a thin
board covered with goat skin, the hairy part of which is turned toward
the ground. There is fixed to one end of the flap, with small iron
nails, one-half of a doubled piece of leather a palm wide and as long as
the flap is wide; the other half of the leather, which is behind the
flap, is twice perforated, as is also the bellows-board, and these
perforations are seven digits apart. Passing through these a string is
tied on the under side of the board; and thus the flap when tied to the
board does not fall away. In this manner are made the flap and the
air-hole, so when the bellows are distended the flap opens, when
compressed it closes. At a distance of about a foot beyond the air-hole
a slightly elliptical iron ring, two palms long and one wide, is
fastened by means of an iron staple to the under part of the
bellows-board; it is at a distance of three palms from the back of the
bellows. In order that the lower bellows-board may remain stationary, a
wooden bolt is driven into the ring, after it penetrates through the
hole in the transverse supporting plank which forms part of the frame
for the bellows. There are some who dispense with the ring and fasten
the bellows-board to the frame with two iron screws something like

The bows are placed between the two boards and are of the same length as
the upper board. They are both made of four pieces of linden wood three
digits thick, of which the two long ones are seven digits wide at the
back and two and a half at the front; the third piece, which is at the
back, is two palms wide. The ends of the bows are a little more than a
digit thick, and are mortised to the long pieces, and both having been
bored through, wooden pegs covered with glue are fixed in the holes;
they are thus joined and glued to the long pieces. Each of the ends is
bowed (_arcuatur_) to meet the end of the long part of the bow, whence
its name "bow" originated. The fourth piece keeps the ends of the bow
distended, and is placed a cubit distant from the head of the bellows;
the ends of this piece are mortised into the ends of the bow and are
joined and glued to them; its length without the tenons is a foot, and
its width a palm and two digits. There are, besides, two other very
small pieces glued to the head of the bellows and to the lower board,
and fastened to them by wooden pegs covered with glue, and they are
three palms and two digits long, one palm high, and a digit thick, one
half being slightly cut away. These pieces keep the ends of the bow away
from the hole in the bellows-head, for if they were not there, the ends,
forced inward by the great and frequent movement, would be broken.

The leather is of ox-hide or horse-hide, but that of the ox is far
preferable to that of the horse. Each of these hides, for there are two,
is three and a half feet wide where they are joined at the back part of
the bellows. A long leathern thong is laid along each of the
bellows-boards and each of the bows, and fastened by T-shaped iron nails
five digits long; each of the horns of the nails is two and a half
digits long and half a digit wide. The hide is attached to the
bellows-boards by means of these nails, so that a horn of one nail
almost touches the horn of the next; but it is different with the bows,
for the hide is fastened to the back piece of the bow by only two nails,
and to the two long pieces by four nails. In this practical manner they
put ten nails in one bow and the same number in the other. Sometimes
when the smelter is afraid that the vigorous motion of the bellows may
pull or tear the hide from the bows, he also fastens it with little
strips of pine by means of another kind of nail, but these strips cannot
be fastened to the back pieces of the bow, because these are somewhat
bent. Some people do not fix the hide to the bellows-boards and bows by
iron nails, but by iron screws, screwed at the same time through strips
laid over the hide. This method of fastening the hide is less used than
the other, although there is no doubt that it surpasses it in

Lastly, the head of the bellows, like the rest of the body, consists of
two boards, and of a nozzle besides. The upper board is one cubit long,
one and a half palms thick. The lower board is part of the whole of the
lower bellows-board; it is of the same length as the upper piece, but a
palm and a digit thick. From these two glued together is made the head,
into which, when it has been perforated, the nozzle is fixed. The back
part of the head, where it is attached to the rest of the bellows-body,
is a cubit wide, but three palms forward it becomes two digits narrower.
Afterward it is somewhat cut away so that the front end may be rounded,
until it is two palms and as many digits in diameter, at which point it
is bound with an iron ring three digits wide.

The nozzle is a pipe made of a thin plate of iron; the diameter in front
is three digits, while at the back, where it is encased in the head of
the bellows, it is a palm high and two palms wide. It thus gradually
widens out, especially at the back, in order that a copious wind can
penetrate into it; the whole nozzle is three feet long.

[Illustration 365 (Bellows for blast furnaces): A--Upper bellows-board.
B--Lower bellows-board. C--The two pieces of wood of which each
consists. D--Posterior arched part of each. E--Tapered front part of
each. F--Pieces of linden wood. G--Aperture in the upper board. H--Lid.
I--Little mouldings of wood. K--Handle. L--Cleat on the outside. The
cleat inside I am not able to depict. M--Interior of the lower
bellows-board. N--Part of the head. O--Air-hole. P--Supporting bar.
Q--Flap. R--Hide. S--Thong. T--Exterior of the lower board. V--Staple.
X--Ring. Y--Bow. Z--Its long pieces. AA--Back piece of the bow. BB--The
bowed ends. CC--Crossbar distending the bow. DD--The two little pieces.
EE--Hide. FF--Nail. GG--Horn of the nail. HH--A screw. II--Long thong.
KK--Head. LL--Its lower board. MM--Its upper board. NN--Nozzle. OO--The
whole of the lower bellows-board. PP--The two exterior plates of the
head hinges. QQ--Their curved piece. RR--Middle plate of the head.
SS--The two outer plates of the upper bellows-board. TT--Its middle
plate. VV--Little axle. XX--Whole bellows.]

The upper bellows-board is joined to the head of the bellows in the
following way. An iron plate[7], a palm wide and one and a half palms
long, is first fastened to the head at a distance of three digits from
the end; from this plate there projects a piece three digits long and
two wide, curved in a small circle. The other side has a similar plate.
Then in the same part of the upper board are fixed two other iron
plates, distant two digits from the edge, each of which are six digits
wide and seven long; in each of these plates the middle part is cut away
for a little more than three digits in length and for two in depth, so
that the curved part of the plates on the head corresponding to them may
fit into this cut out part. From both sides of each plate there project
pieces, three digits long and two digits wide, similarly curved into
small circles. A little iron pin is passed through these curved pieces
of the plates, like a little axle, so that the upper board of the
bellows may turn upon it. The little axle is six digits long and a
little more than a digit thick, and a small groove is cut out of the
upper board, where the plates are fastened to it, in such a manner that
the little axle when fixed to the plates may not fall out. Both plates
fastened to the bellows-board are affixed by four iron nails, of which
the heads are on the inner part of the board, whereas the points,
clinched at the top, are transformed into heads, so to speak. Each of
the other plates is fastened to the head of the bellows by means of a
nail with a wide head, and by two other nails of which the heads are on
the edge of the bellows-head. Midway between the two plates on the
bellows-board there remains a space two palms wide, which is covered by
an iron plate fastened to the board by little nails; and another plate
corresponding to this is fastened to the head between the other two
plates; they are two palms and the same number of digits wide.

The hide is common to the head as to all the other parts of the body;
the plates are covered with it, as well as the front part of the upper
bellows-board, and both the bows and the back of the head of the
bellows, so that the wind may not escape from that part of the bellows.
It is three palms and as many digits wide, and long enough to extend
from one of the sides of the lower board over the back of the upper; it
is fastened by many T-headed nails on one side to the upper board, and
on the other side to the head of the bellows, and both ends are fastened
to the lower bellows-board.

In the above manner the bellows is made. As two are required for each
furnace, it is necessary to have twelve bellows, if there are to be six
furnaces in one works.

[Illustration 368 (Bellows for blast furnaces): A--Front sill. B--Back
sill. C--Front posts. D--Their slots. E--Beam imposed upon them.
F--Higher posts. G--Their slots. H--Beam imposed upon them. I--Timber
joined in the mortises of the posts. K--Planks. L--Transverse supporting
planks. M--The holes in them. N--Pipe. O--Its front end. P--Its rear

Now it is time to describe their framework. First, two sills a little
shorter than the furnace wall are placed on the ground. The front one of
these is three palms wide and thick, and the back one three palms and
two digits. The front one is two feet distant from the back wall of the
furnace, and the back one is six feet three palms distant from the front
one. They are set into the earth, that they may remain firm; there are
some who accomplish this by means of pegs which, through several holes,
penetrate deeply into the ground.

Then twelve short posts are erected, whose lower ends are mortised into
the sill that is near the back of the furnace wall; these posts are two
feet high, exclusive of the tenons, and are three palms and the same
number of digits wide, and two palms thick. A slot one and a half palms
wide is cut through them, beginning two palms from the bottom and
extending for a height of three palms. All the posts are not placed at
the same intervals, the first being at a distance of three feet five
digits from the second, and likewise the third from the fourth, but the
second is two feet one palm and three digits from the third; the
intervals between the other posts are arranged in the same manner, equal
and unequal, of which each four pertain to two furnaces. The upper ends
of these posts are mortised into a transverse beam which is twelve feet,
two palms, and three digits long, and projects five digits beyond the
first post and to the same distance beyond the fourth; it is two palms
and the same number of digits wide, and two palms thick. Since each
separate transverse beam supports four bellows, it is necessary to have
three of them.

Behind the twelve short posts the same number of higher posts are
erected, of which each has the middle part of the lower end cut out, so
that its two resulting lower ends are mortised into the back sill; these
posts, exclusive of the tenons, are twelve feet and two palms high, and
are five palms wide and two palms thick. They are cut out from the
bottom upward, the slot being four feet and five digits high and six
digits wide. The upper ends of these posts are mortised into a long beam
imposed upon them; this long beam is placed close under the timbers
which extend from the wall at the back of the furnace to the first long
wall; the beam is three palms wide and two palms thick, and forty-three
feet long. If such a long one is not at hand, two or three may be
substituted for it, which when joined together make up that length.
These higher posts are not placed at equal distances, but the first is
at a distance of two feet three palms one digit from the second, and the
third is at the same distance from the fourth; while the second is at a
distance of one foot three palms and the same number of digits from the
third, and in the same manner the rest of the posts are arranged at
equal and unequal intervals. Moreover, there is in every post, where it
faces the shorter post, a mortise at a foot and a digit above the slot;
in these mortises of the four posts is tenoned a timber which itself has
four mortises. Tenons are enclosed in mortises in order that they may be
better joined, and they are transfixed with wooden pins. This timber is
thirteen feet three palms one digit long, and it projects beyond the
first post a distance of two palms and two digits, and to the same
number of palms and digits beyond the fourth post. It is two palms and
as many digits wide, and also two palms thick. As there are twelve posts
it is necessary to have three timbers of this kind.

On each of these timbers, and on each of the cross-beams which are laid
upon the shorter posts, are placed four planks, each nine feet long, two
palms three digits wide, and two palms one digit thick. The first plank
is five feet one palm one digit distant from the second, at the front as
well as at the back, for each separate plank is placed outside of the
posts. The third is at the same distance from the fourth, but the second
is one foot and three digits distant from the third. In the same manner
the rest of the eight planks are arranged at intervals, the fifth from
the sixth and the seventh from the eighth are at the same distances as
the first from the second and the third from the fourth; the sixth is at
the same distance from the seventh as the second from the third.

Two planks support one transverse plank six feet long, one foot wide,
one palm thick, placed at a distance of three feet and two palms from
the back posts. When there are six of these supporting planks, on each
separate one are placed two bellows; the lower bellows-boards project a
palm beyond them. From each of the bellows-boards an iron ring descends
through a hole in its supporting plank, and a wooden peg is driven into
the ring, so that the bellows-board may remain stationary, as I stated

The two bellows communicate, each by its own plank, to the back of a
copper pipe in which are set both of the nozzles, and their ends are
tightly fastened in it. The pipe is made of a rolled copper or iron
plate, a foot and two palms and the same number of digits long; the
plate is half a digit thick, but a digit thick at the back. The interior
of the pipe is three digits wide, and two and a half digits high in the
front, for it is not absolutely round; and at the back it is a foot and
two palms and three digits in diameter. The plate from which the pipe is
made is not entirely joined up, but at the front there is left a crack
half a digit wide, increasing at the back to three digits. This pipe is
placed in the hole in the furnace, which, as I said, was in the middle
of the wall and the arch. The nozzles of the bellows, placed in this
pipe, are a distance of five digits from its front end.

[Illustration 370 (Bellows for blast furnaces): A--Lever which when
depressed by means of a cam compresses the bellows. B--Slots through the
posts. C--Bar. D--Iron implement with a rectangular link. E--Iron
instrument with round ring. F--Handle of bellows. G--Upper post.
H--Upper lever. I--Box with equal sides. K--Box narrow at the bottom.
L--Pegs driven into the upper lever.]

The levers are of the same number as the bellows, and when depressed by
the cams of the long axle they compress the bellows. These levers are
eight feet three palms long, one palm wide and thick, and the ends are
inserted in the slots of the posts; they project beyond the front posts
to a distance of two palms, and the same distance beyond the back posts
in order that each may have its end depressed by its two cams on the
axle. The cams not only penetrate into the slots of the back posts, but
project three digits beyond them. An iron pin is set in round holes made
through both sides of the slot of each front post, at three palms and as
many digits from the bottom; the pin penetrates the lever, which turns
about it when depressed or raised. The back of the lever for the length
of a cubit is a palm and a digit wider than the rest, and is perforated;
in this hole is engaged a bar six feet and two palms long, three digits
wide, and about one and one-half digits thick; it is somewhat hooked at
the upper end, and approaches the handle of the bellows. Under the lever
there is a nail, which penetrates through a hole in the bar, so that the
lever and bar may move together. The bar is perforated in the upper end
at a distance of six digits from the top; this hole is two palms long
and a digit wide, and in it is engaged the hook of an iron implement
which is a digit thick. At the upper part this implement has either a
round or square opening, like a link, and at the lower end is hooked;
the link is two digits high and wide and the hook is three digits long;
the middle part between the link and the hook is three palms and two
digits long. The link of this implement engages either the handle of the
bellows, or else a large ring which does engage it. This iron ring is a
digit thick, two palms wide on the inside of the upper part, and two
digits in the lower part, and this iron ring, not unlike the first one,
engages the handle of the bellows. The iron ring either has its narrower
part turned upward, and in it is engaged the ring of another iron
implement, similar to the first, whose hook, extending upward, grips the
rope fastened to the iron ring holding the end of the second lever, of
which I will speak presently; or else the iron ring grips this lever,
and then in its hook is engaged the ring of the other implement whose
ring engages the handle of the bellows, and in this case the rope is
dispensed with.

Resting on beams fixed in the two walls is a longitudinal beam, at a
distance of four and a half feet from the back posts; it is two palms
wide, one and a half palms thick. There are mortised into this
longitudinal beam the lower ends of upper posts three palms wide and two
thick, which are six feet two palms high, exclusive of their tenons. The
upper ends of these posts are mortised into an upper longitudinal beam,
which lies close under the rafters of the building; this upper
longitudinal beam is two palms wide and one thick. The upper posts have
a slot cut out upward from a point two feet from the bottom, and the
slot is two feet high and six digits wide. Through these upper posts a
round hole is bored from one side to the other at a point three feet one
palm from the bottom, and a small iron axle penetrates through the hole
and is fastened there. Around this small iron axle turns the second
lever when it is depressed and raised. This lever is eight feet long,
and its other end is three digits wider than the rest of the lever; at
this widest point is a hole two digits wide and three high, in which is
fixed an iron ring, to which is tied the rope I have mentioned; it is
five palms long, its upper loop is two palms and as many digits wide,
and the lower one is one palm one digit wide. This half of the second
lever, the end of which I have just mentioned, is three palms high and
one wide; it projects three feet beyond the slot of the post on which it
turns; the other end, which faces the back wall of the furnaces, is one
foot and a palm high and a foot wide.

On this part of the lever stands and is fixed a box three and a half
feet long, one foot and one palm wide, and half a foot deep; but these
measurements vary; sometimes the bottom of this box is narrower,
sometimes equal in width to the top. In either case, it is filled with
stones and earth to make it heavy, but the smelters have to be on their
guard and make provision against the stones falling out, owing to the
constant motion; this is prevented by means of an iron band which is
placed over the top, both ends being wedge-shaped and driven into the
lever so that the stones can be held in. Some people, in place of the
box, drive four or more pegs into the lever and put mud between them,
the required amount being added to the weight or taken away from it.

There remains to be considered the method of using this machine. The
lower lever, being depressed by the cams, compresses the bellows, and
the compression drives the air through the nozzle. Then the weight of
the box on the other end of the upper lever raises the upper
bellows-board, and the air is drawn in, entering through the air-hole.

[Illustration 372 (Bellows for blast furnaces): A--Axle. B--Water-wheel.
C--Drum composed of rundles. D--Other axle. E--Toothed wheel. F--Its
spokes. G--Its segments. H--Its teeth. I--Cams of the axle.]

The machine whose cams depress the lower lever is made as follows. First
there is an axle, on whose end outside the building is a water-wheel; at
the other end, which is inside the building, is a drum made of rundles.
This drum is composed of two double hubs, a foot apart, which are five
digits thick, the radius all round being a foot and two digits; but they
are double, because each hub is composed of two discs, equally thick,
fastened together with wooden pegs glued in. These hubs are sometimes
covered above and around by iron plates. The rundles are thirty in
number, a foot and two palms and the same number of digits long, with
each end fastened into a hub; they are rounded, three digits in
diameter, and the same number of digits apart. In this practical manner
is made the drum composed of rundles.

There is a toothed wheel, two palms and a digit thick, on the end of
another axle; this wheel is composed of a double disc[8]. The inner disc
is composed of four segments a palm thick, everywhere two palms and a
digit wide. The outer disc, like the inner, is made of four segments,
and is a palm and a digit thick; it is not equally wide, but where the
head of the spokes are inserted it is a foot and a palm and digit wide,
while on each side of the spokes it becomes a little narrower, until the
narrowest part is only two palms and the same number of digits wide. The
outer segments are joined to the inner ones in such a manner that, on
the one hand, an outer segment ends in the middle of an inner one, and,
on the other hand, the ends of the inner segments are joined in the
middle of the outer ones; there is no doubt that by this kind of joining
the wheel is made stronger. The outer segments are fastened to the inner
by means of a large number of wooden pegs. Each segment, measured over
its round back, is four feet and three palms long. There are four
spokes, each two palms wide and a palm and a digit thick; their length,
excluding the tenons, being two feet and three digits. One end of the
spoke is mortised into the axle, where it is firmly fastened with pegs;
the wide part of the other end, in the shape of a triangle, is mortised
into the outer segment opposite it, keeping the shape of the same as far
as the segment ascends. They also are joined together with wooden pegs
glued in, and these pegs are driven into the spokes under the inner
disc. The parts of the spokes in the shape of the triangle are on the
inside; the outer part is simple. This triangle has two sides equal, the
erect ones as is evident, which are a palm long; the lower side is not
of the same length, but is five digits long, and a mortise of the same
shape is cut out of the segments. The wheel has sixty teeth, since it is
necessary that the rundle drum should revolve twice while the toothed
wheel revolves once. The teeth are a foot long, and project one palm
from the inner disc of the wheel, and three digits from the outer disc;
they are a palm wide and two and a half digits thick, and it is
necessary that they should be three digits apart, as were the rundles.

The axle should have a thickness in proportion to the spokes and the
segments. As it has two cams to depress each of the levers, it is
necessary that it should have twenty-four cams, which project beyond it
a foot and a palm and a digit. The cams are of almost semicircular
shape, of which the widest part is three palms and a digit wide, and
they are a palm thick; they are distributed according to the four sides
of the axle, on the upper, the lower and the two lateral sides. The axle
has twelve holes, of which the first penetrates through from the upper
side to the lower, the second from one lateral side to the other; the
first hole is four feet two palms distant from the second; each
alternate one of these holes is made in the same direction, and they are
arranged at equal intervals. Each single cam must be opposite another;
the first is inserted into the upper part of the first hole, the second
into the lower part of the same hole, and so fixed by pegs that they do
not fall out; the third cam is inserted into that part of the second
hole which is on the right side, and the fourth into that part on the
left. In like manner all the cams are inserted into the consecutive
holes, for which reason it happens that the cams depress the levers of
the bellows in rotation. Finally we must not omit to state that this is
only one of many such axles having cams and a water-wheel.

I have arrived thus far with many words, and yet it is not unreasonable
that I have in this place pursued the subject minutely, since the
smelting of all the metals, to which I am about to proceed, could not be
undertaken without it.

The ores of gold, silver, copper, and lead, are smelted in a furnace by
four different methods. The first method is for the rich ores of gold or
silver, the second for the mediocre ores, the third for the poor ores,
and the fourth method is for those ores which contain copper or lead,
whether they contain precious metals or are wanting in them. The
smelting of the first ores is performed in the furnace of which the
tap-hole is intermittently closed; the other three ores are melted in
furnaces of which the tap-holes are always open.

[Illustration 373 (Stamp-mill): A--Charcoal. B--Mortar-box. C--Stamps.]

First, I will speak of the manner in which the furnaces are prepared for
the smelting of the ores, and of the first method of smelting. The
powder from which the hearth and forehearth should be made is composed
of charcoal and earth (clay?). The charcoal is crushed by the stamps in
a mortar-box, the front of which is closed by a board at the top, while
the charcoal, crushed to powder, is removed through the open part
below; the stamps are not shod with iron, but are made entirely of wood,
although at the lower part they are bound round at the wide part by an
iron band.

[Illustration 374 (Clay Washing): A--Tub. B--Sieve. C--Rods.

The powder into which the charcoal is crushed is thrown on to a sieve
whose bottom consists of interwoven withes of wood. The sieve is drawn
backward and forward over two wooden or iron rods placed in a triangular
position on a tub, or over a bench-frame set on the floor of the
building; the powder which falls into the tub or on to the floor is of
suitable size, but the pieces of small charcoal which remain in the
sieve are emptied out and thrown back under the stamps.

[Illustration 375 (Clay Washing): A--Screen. B--Poles. C--Shovel.
D--Two-wheeled cart. E--Hand-sieve. F--Narrow boards. G--Box. H--Covered

When the earth is dug up it is first exposed to the sun that it may dry.
Later on it is thrown with a shovel on to a screen--set up obliquely and
supported by poles,--made of thick, loosely woven hazel withes, and in
this way the fine earth and its small lumps pass through the holes of
the screen, but the clods and stones do not pass through, but run down
to the ground. The earth which passes through the screen is conveyed in
a two-wheeled cart to the works and there sifted. This sieve, which is
not dissimilar to the one described above, is drawn backward and
forward upon narrow boards of equal length placed over a long box; the
powder which falls through the sieve into the box is suitable for the
mixture; the lumps that remain in the sieve are thrown away by some
people, but by others they are placed under the stamps. This powdered
earth is mixed with powdered charcoal, moistened, and thrown into a pit,
and in order that it may remain good for a long time, the pit is covered
up with boards so that the mixture may not become contaminated.

[Illustration 377 (Implements for Furnace Work): A--Furnace. B--Ladder.
C--Board fixed to it. D--Hoe. E--Five-toothed rake. F--Wooden spatula.
G--Broom. H--Rammer. I--Rammer, same diameter. K--Two wooden spatulas.
L--Curved blade. M--Bronze rammer. N--Another bronze rammer. O--Wide
spatula. P--Rod. Q--Wicker basket. R--Two buckets of leather in which
water is carried for putting out a conflagration, should the _officina_
catch fire. S--Brass pump with which the water is squirted out. T--Two
hooks. V--Rake. X--Workman beating the clay with an iron implement.]

They take two parts of pulverised charcoal and one part of powdered
earth, and mix them well together with a rake; the mixture is moistened
by pouring water over it so that it may easily be made into shapes
resembling snowballs; if the powder be light it is moistened with more
water, if heavy with less. The interior of the new furnace is lined with
lute, so that the cracks in the walls, if there are any, may be filled
up, but especially in order to preserve the rock from injury by fire. In
old furnaces in which ore has been melted, as soon as the rocks have
cooled the assistant chips away, with a spatu