The Life of Agricola

Medieval mining is an important part of the expansion industry in the middle ages but for a long time, there wasn’t a lot of information about this profession. Of course all of the miners were using technology and learned techniques to extract ore from the ground but there wasn’t any substantial written literature on the subject. However, this all changed when a man know as Agricola took interest in the subject.

Georgius Agricola, whose name is a Latin form of the name George Bauer, was born in the Saxon town of Glauchau in 1494 CE. During his life, he would philology in Germany and medicine in Italy, leading him to be appointed the town physician in what is now modern Czechoslovakia. It is during his time in the town that Agricola visited the mines and smelteries of the area and became fascinated with metallurgy, wanting to study the processes the the miners used. However, he wasn’t very satisfied with the writing that was produced by the Greeks of the subject and decided to create his own book on the subject called De Re Metallica.


The book was published in 1556, a year after Agricola’s death. The book was later translated by the hoover family, who regarded the late Agricola as the first modern scientist.

In the book, Agricola proceeds to go over many of the different nuances found in medieval mining. He discusses the different mining methods for different types of minerals, as well as different technologies that went into the mining process. These machines included horse operated ball and chain pumps, and crank operated blowers for removing water and ventilation.


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