The Development of Surveying in Mining and the Instruments Used for Mining Surveying in the Central-European Mining Industry from Antiquity to the Mid-19th Century

Development of Surveying in Mining

Until now there has not been a presentation of the overview of the history of surveying in mining and the development of the instruments used for this purpose. From the basis of objects found in a private collection there shall be an attempt to make a contribution on this topic and to publish a corresponding book. The strengths of the aforementioned collection lie both in its quality and in the very broad chronological time frame covered by a huge variety of different types of instrument. There is a notable focus on the early modern period, with a great number of graphometers, circumferentors, theodolites, spirit levels, compass instruments, suspension devices, planimeters, levelling instruments, plumbs, drawing instruments and a range of aiding devices.

The timespan being examined ranges from antiquity to the start of standard industrialised instrument production in the mid-19th century. Five periods are to be dealt with here:
The first time frame looks at early mining, followed then by the developments in Ancient Rome and Greece. There then comes a third period spanning from the late middle-ages to around the middle of the 16th century, during which mine surveying transformed from a purely manual job into an art that could be taught and learnt, thanks to the introduction of book printing.
The application of systematic mining in the first third of the 16th century until around the start of the 19th century characterises a fourth period, during which suspension instruments, theodolites and levelling instruments were introduced into mining. This period sees the completion of the transition from the old methods using a compass suspended on a cord to methods incorporating sighting devices.
A fifth time period emerges with the start of industrialisation, lasting until around the mid-19th century. This period is characterised by fierce technical developments in mining. The measuring devices and procedures, which have became partially stand-alone, are once again becoming more similar to those of general surveying, and mine operators are becoming more and more legally obligated to create mining maps.
During the three-month research trip, the objects of the Mountain History Documentation Centre will be used to explain a number of specific issues and the manuscript will be fully reworked.


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Günther Oestmann

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