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blog History for Fantasy Writers: Medieval Mining

Discussion in 'Research' started by Black Dragon, Jan 17, 2021.

  1. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    skip.knox submitted a new blog post:

    History for Fantasy Writers: Medieval Mining
    by E.L. Skip Knox

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    This article continues the topic of medieval miners and mining. Here’s a link to part 1, which talks about medieval theories of how gold and other metals are formed.

    Mining
    Once a vein has been discovered, the challenge is to get the stuff out of the ground. From earliest times, people have done both open-pit and tunnel mining, depending on the nature of the ground. Each has its challenges.

    Pneumatic (Water) Mining
    You might be surprised (I was) to learn that pneumatic mining has existed for a long time. Pliny the Elder tells how miners would build a reservoir at the top of a hill that was believed to contain valuable ore. Once filled with water, the gates were opened and the sudden rush of water tore away the topsoil to reveal what lay beneath. The process is called hushing. This had the advantage of being able to be done multiple times and digging quite deeply.

    Fire-Setting
    This somewhat alarming technique involved setting a fire against the rock face in a mine. This required piling up plenty of wood so as to generate as much heat as possible. A brave soul or two would then pour water...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
     
    Demesnedenoir likes this.
  2. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

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    A nice overview. One interesting story I once heard (but can't find a reference to anymore) about refining is about aluminium. It used to be very expensive (as in a lot more expensive than gold) to refine aluminium ore. When the US was building the capitol they considered creating the dome out of aluminium, to show the world how prosperous and advanced they were.

    In the end they decided against doing so. Which might have been a good thing, since a few years later, someone discovered a process which made it so cheap to extract aluminium from ore that we now use it to wrap food in it.
     
    skip.knox and Black Dragon like this.
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