Agricola, Georgius, De re metallica, 1912/1950

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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 Metallíca—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.
Accord-
ing to Agricola's own statement4, 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 thelearned 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
book5. 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about this time he began De Re Metallica—not to be published for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.


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