Hodgett Medieval Mining

In this article, Hodgett explains what medieval mining and metallurgical was like throughout the middle ages and how it impacted society as a whole.

After the Roman period was over, many mines were abandoned and metal production was at its lowest point ever in history. The only metals that seem to not have been affected by this collapse were mainly iron, tin, and lead. The first real revival of mining after the fall of the Roman Empire was near the end of the 19th century, when Germany, started to become the main center of mining. They found rich amounts of copper and lead ore, while mining in the Harz Mountains. In the 11th and 12th centuries, gold, silver, lead, copper, and iron mines became a lot more common, later people will also discover silver-bearing ores in the mountains and also start mining them. The growing population and the need for these materials (e.g. gold, silver, iron, lead, copper, and tin) for commercial, industrial, and artistic purposes were the reasons why mining started to become more developed. Mining during the middle ages were very unfair, by that I mean if your land contained a lot of ores you were basically a king. You open up your land and allow people to mine on it, but the price they had to pay was letting the land owner take a large share of what was mined and doing whatever they wanted with it.

Metallurgy started to become significantly more efficient in the 15th century when smelters started to invent different varieties of hearths, trenches, pots, ovens, and furnaces. Before these inventions were created people would normal wash, break, and crush the ores by hands. Near the end of the middle ages the blast furnace, type of furnace used for smelting industrial metals, enabled cast iron to be created; this was the most important invention in the metallurgy industry. That reason that cast iron was the most important invention for metallurgy is because it outperformed bronze, people started to build cannons and small objects using cast iron now.

In general, experts from Hungary, Bohemia, Saxony, Tyrol, and the Low countries led the way in the technological development of mining and metallurgy.

Long Cao word count: 367 (without headers or text below)



The second link is useful if you want to learn more about the history of metallurgy from the middle ages all the way up to the 20th century. The link also has pictures showing you what type of metals were being utilized in each time period. In the middle ages section of his article he goes over what materials people used back then and what people use to do with them, for example alchemists in the 8th and 9th century tried to change base metals like iron into precious metals at the time like gold.


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