This paper analyzes the importance of mining background and mining experience in two 18th century Italian scientists who studied the mountains and other terrestrial reliefs with particular attention to their rocks, strata and formations: Giovanni Arduino (1714-1795) and Spirito Benedetto Nicolis di Robilant (1724-1801). Arduino was a mining expert and land-surveyor who became a field geologist and a mineralogist of European renown in the second half of the 18th century. Gaining mining experience over a period of several decades beginning in the late 1730s, Arduino exhibited growing interest in study and interpretation of the various strata and rocks. During his travels as mining expert and director of mines, he studied Tuscany, the Apennines and the pre-Alps of Veneto and Lombardy. His famed lithostratigraphic classification of rocks and mountains in four units or 'ordini' (published in 1760 and enlarged in 1774) is strongly indebted to various observations made in the mines, especially with regard to the features of the primitive rocks. From his twenty-year-long mining experience Arduino acquired the skills to interpret rock structures in the field (morphology, lithology, mineralogical or fossiliferous content), the practical tools to analyze features of rocks and minerals in the laboratory through chemical-metallurgical processes, and also the habit of drawing sketches and sections. From 1749 to 1752 Robilant took courses in mineralogy and metallurgy in Freiberg (Saxony) and studied the organization and the productivity of the local mines. He also travelled to other renowned mining areas of Bohemia and Hungary. After his return to Italy, he was nominated General Inspector of the Piedmontese mines. Having undertaken several journeys and mine inspections, mainly in the western Alps, in 1786 Robilant published a detailed Essai Géographique with a large mineralogical map of the territories of the Piedmontese Kingdom (called the 'Regno di Sardegna'), with the exclusion however of the island of the Sardinia itself. This work was part of a practical effort to modernize and improve modest mining enterprises in Piedmont. But it also had a clear intention of connecting mineralogical and lithological research in the field with a general geological theory on the formation of mountains. The aim of this paper is to compare the different geological ideas of Arduino and Robilant on the formation of rocks and mountains, in the light of their mining expertise. This practical knowledge was also an essential element of the theoretical work of Arduino and Robilant on the "classification" of mountains.

Geology and mining in 18th century Italy: Giovanni Arduino and Spirito Nicolis di Robilant

VACCARI, EZIO
2001

Abstract

This paper analyzes the importance of mining background and mining experience in two 18th century Italian scientists who studied the mountains and other terrestrial reliefs with particular attention to their rocks, strata and formations: Giovanni Arduino (1714-1795) and Spirito Benedetto Nicolis di Robilant (1724-1801). Arduino was a mining expert and land-surveyor who became a field geologist and a mineralogist of European renown in the second half of the 18th century. Gaining mining experience over a period of several decades beginning in the late 1730s, Arduino exhibited growing interest in study and interpretation of the various strata and rocks. During his travels as mining expert and director of mines, he studied Tuscany, the Apennines and the pre-Alps of Veneto and Lombardy. His famed lithostratigraphic classification of rocks and mountains in four units or 'ordini' (published in 1760 and enlarged in 1774) is strongly indebted to various observations made in the mines, especially with regard to the features of the primitive rocks. From his twenty-year-long mining experience Arduino acquired the skills to interpret rock structures in the field (morphology, lithology, mineralogical or fossiliferous content), the practical tools to analyze features of rocks and minerals in the laboratory through chemical-metallurgical processes, and also the habit of drawing sketches and sections. From 1749 to 1752 Robilant took courses in mineralogy and metallurgy in Freiberg (Saxony) and studied the organization and the productivity of the local mines. He also travelled to other renowned mining areas of Bohemia and Hungary. After his return to Italy, he was nominated General Inspector of the Piedmontese mines. Having undertaken several journeys and mine inspections, mainly in the western Alps, in 1786 Robilant published a detailed Essai Géographique with a large mineralogical map of the territories of the Piedmontese Kingdom (called the 'Regno di Sardegna'), with the exclusion however of the island of the Sardinia itself. This work was part of a practical effort to modernize and improve modest mining enterprises in Piedmont. But it also had a clear intention of connecting mineralogical and lithological research in the field with a general geological theory on the formation of mountains. The aim of this paper is to compare the different geological ideas of Arduino and Robilant on the formation of rocks and mountains, in the light of their mining expertise. This practical knowledge was also an essential element of the theoretical work of Arduino and Robilant on the "classification" of mountains.
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/18662
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact