In Search of Knowledge . . .
Man, Metals and Magic: A Survey of the Ancient History of Metallurgy.
The microscope symbolizes the metallurgist's enforced practice of examining a tiny part of the subject at terrific magnification. In this section of the Resource Center, we will turn the microscope round and peep down the wrong end of it, to look at some of the highlights of the different purposes metals have served throughout the ages, and the sweeping effects of metallurgical development upon world history.
Come journey with with us along the road of metal -- from its beginning at an uncertain date thousands of years ago to the start of Europe's industrial era -- as we explore the fascinating history of ancient metallurgy.
Originally published in 1556, Agricola's De Re Metallica was the first book on mining to be based on field research and observation -- what today would be called the "scientific approach." It was therefore the first book to offer detailed technical drawings to illustrate the various specialized techniques of the many branches of mining, and the first to provide a realistic history of mining from antiquity to its day.
For amost 200 years, De Re Metallica remained the authoritative work in this area, and it has become one of the most highly respected scientific classics of all time. In 1912, the book was translated by former President Herbert Clark Hoover and his wife. Printed in a limited edition, the work was quickly bought up by book collectors and historians, who had found that there was much to be learned from its pages. The book contains an unprecedented wealth of material.
Although out of print, we were fortunate in locating a near perfect edition for AMA's library at a London rare book store. A fitting introduction to the history of metallurgy, it is a pleasure to share with our viewers one of the brilliantly detailed and richly illustrated drawing from De Re Metallica.
The plates, perhaps more than anything else, are what is responsible for Agricola's continued importance. All 289 of the original drawings are reproduced in the 1912 edition, offering students of the period, engineers, metallurgists, course students, and general readers an unforgettable picture of the first age of technology.
Man, Metals and Magic: Ancient Metallurgy
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