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Georgius Agricola
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Georgius Agricola wrote the book De Re Metallica, a truly original and valuable work that discussed everything known about mining in the first half of the sixteenth century. In De Re Metallica, Agricola reviewed practical means of finding ores, methods of surveying and mining, the assaying of ores, types and uses of mining machinery, mine administration, and much more. De Re Metallica was the first book on mining based on field research and observation, the first to use detailed drawings to illustrate specialized methods of working in mines, and the first to provide a realistic history of mining from antiquity to the mid-sixteenth century.​

De Re Metallica was written in Latin and almost immediately translated into German, Italian, and French. It remained the most authoritative reference for miners for 200 years. In 1912, Herbert and Lou Hoover, who are previous inductees into the National Mining Hall of Fame, translated and published a great English version of De Re Metallica that remains in print more than 100 years later.​

Georgius Agricola, the Latinized version of Georg Bauer, was born in Glauchau, Saxony. His education was the most thorough what his times afforded in the classics, philosophy, medicine, and the sciences and included study at universities in Italy as well as in what is now Germany. In 1527, he took the position of town physician in Joachimsthal, Bohemia, a mining town in the midst of the then most prolific metal-mining district in Europe. In about 1530, he apparently resigned his position to spend a period of two to three years of travel and study among the mines. In 1533, he became town physician in Chemnitz, Saxony, in another mining district.​

Among his many accomplishments, Agricola was a pioneer in the study of the diseases of miners and in the study of the pharmacological uses of minerals. He cautioned miners about the dangers of breathing dust. He advised that foremen are responsible for the safety conditions in mines but that miners themselves have a responsibility to avoid carelessness.​

Agricola is considered the founder of geology as a discipline. De Re Metallica was only the last and most famous of his books. Several others also broke new ground in the mineral sciences. De Ortu et Causis Subterraneorum was the first work on physical geology. De Natura Fossilium was the first systematic study of mineralogy. In these works, Agricola paved the way for the systematic study of Earth and of its rocks, minerals, and fossils.​

In De Re Metallica, Georgius Agricola advanced mining from the realm of superstition and fantasy to its rightful place as an industrial science. Of mining and miners, he wrote: “Who can fail to realize that mining is a calling of peculiar dignity?”​