Georgius Agricola

24-MAR-1490 - 21-NOV-1555

Georgius Agricola.
The different types of Fahrung. From: De Re Metallica Libri XII.

Georgius Agricola was a German named Georg Pawer. Pawer is a dialect version or simply different spelling of Bauer, which is the German word for farmer, so he simply translated his name literally into Latin which resulted in Georgius Agricola. At this time, during the Middle Ages, it was common to use Latin when writing theologic or scientific books, and consequently the authors name was given in the Latinised version.

Agricola is often called the father of mineralogy, but he is also the father of mining, metallurgy, and even geology. His magnum opus is the book De Re Metallica, which is a complete and systematic treatise on mining and metallurgy. The book is illustrated with many fine and interesting woodcuts (see picture). In an appendix it contains the German equivalents for the technical terms used in the Latin text. This book remained a standard work about mining for centuries to come.

Agricola's most important book was published posthumously, the dedication to the elector and his brother in the book is dated six years earlier. Other works of him, much smaller books, were published earlier. He describes his ideas on the origin of ore local deposits of Saxony, correctly attributing the hydrothermal ores to deposition from aqueous solution. He also explains the erosive action of rivers and its effect in the shaping of mountains.

In 1912 the book was translated from the original Latin into English by the former President of the United States, Herbert Hoover, a mining engineer and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover, a classics graduate. The Dover Publishing Company reprinted this book in 1950 and copies are still available from Amazon and other booksellers.


24-MAR-1490 born at Glauchau in Sachsen (Saxony), Germany.
1514 to 1518 studied classics, philosophy, and philology at the University of Leipzig.
1518 to 1522 teached Latin and Greek at a school in Zwickau.
1522 started to study medicine at the University of Leipzig.
1523 went to Italy, studied medicine, natural science, and philosophy in Bologna and Padua, finished with clinical studies in Venice.
1525 worked at the Aldine Press in Venice, preparing an edition of Galen's works on medicine.
1526 returned to Saxony.
1527 to 1533 town physician in Joachimsthal, a mining town in the richest metal-mining district of Europe.
1530 wrote De Re Metallica.
1530 Prince Maurice, elector of Saxony, appointed him historiographer with an annual allowance.
1533 appointed town physician in Chemnitz.
1546 elected B├╝rgermeister (mayor) of Chemnitz.
1546 De natura eorum quae effluunt ex terra.
1546 De ortu et causis subterraneorum.
21-NOV-1555 died in Chemnitz, Germany.
1556 De Re Metallica published posthumously.