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September 10 , 2007

Mine Pumping in Agricola's Time and Later


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The history of the technology of mining, as distinguished from metallurgy, is largely a history of mechanization, and that mechanization has until the last century consisted principally in the development of what Agricola calls tractoriae — hauling machines. That hauling machines of some complexity, Archimedian screws and a kind of noria, were used by the Romans for dewatering mines has been known for some time. Evidence of the survival of this technology beyond the fall of Rome remains to be found, and it is generally agreed that mining activity declined through the first millenium. The revival and extension of mining in the central European areas of German settlement is thought to have occurred from the 10th century, with an intensive development of the region known to Agricola (Erzgebirge) in the 13th century.

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