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De Re Metallica, Cupellation Furnaces
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Woodcut from Georgius Agricola's, De Re Metallica. Exterior scene showing assayers at work. An assayer is a person who tests ores and minerals and analyzes them to determine their composition and value. Round and rectangular cupellation furnaces. Cupellation is a metallurgical process in which ores or alloyed metals are treated under high temperatures and carefully controlled operations in order to separate noble metals, like gold and silver, from base metals like lead, copper, zinc, arsenic, antimony or bismuth, that might be present in the ore. Georgius Agricola (1494-1555) was a German scholar and scientist. Known as "the father of mineralogy". He is best known for his book De Re Metallica, published in 1556, a treatise on mining and extractive metallurgy, illustrated with woodcuts illustrating processes to extract ores from the ground and metal from the ore, and the man uses of water mills in mining. Agricola described and illustrated how ore veins occur in and on the ground, making the work an early contribution to the developing science of geology. He described prospecting for ore veins and surveying in great detail, as well as washing the ores to collect the heavier valuable minerals, such as gold and tin. It was also an important chemistry text for the period and is significant in the history of chemistry. De re metallica is considered a classic document of Renaissance metallurgy, unsurpassed for two centuries.
June 2nd, 2013
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