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Mining Science: Vernacular Knowledge

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the mining knowledge dominant in Saxon mining during the economic rebound that followed the Thirty Years War. It explains that, notwithstanding a growing bureaucratic and scholarly presence in mining, and substantial top-down reforms, mining officials like Nicolaus Voigtel advanced a vernacular, or experience-based science. Their mining books upheld a new standard of systematization and professionalism that was not incompatible with miner lore, an (al) chemical conception of mineral generation, and digging and dowsing knowledge. Mining officials had produced manuals and texts pertaining to various facets of the enterprise for centuries. The generic title 'mining book' does not distinguish between the many types of texts and their audiences, both manuscript and printed, including tables of extraction figures, and shareholder lists. Hans Baumgärtel’s claims that miner beliefs were merely a side branch in the history of mining science.

Keywords: digging; dowsing; mining science



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