Using new media to document and research miners’ lamps

The vulnerability of the miners’ places of work underground meant that the lighting of these workplaces was, from earliest times, of particular and in many respects crucial importance.

From a technological point of view, the development began with prehistoric torches made of resinous pine branches (Kienspäne), and progressed via various intermediate forms to lamps, generally with open flames. Depending on the circumstances prevailing in the different mining districts, these had characteristic shapes and designs, such as the Frosch and the Blende (two types of oil lamp). Questions of light strength and burning duration influenced particular aspects of their construction, and also the choice of fuel and the development of a specific safety lamp. The central importance of the lamp is evident from the multitude of detailed solutions developed since then. Eventually, from the end of the 19th century, the mining industry established special institutional research facilities for testing and improving the safety lamp. Contacts with numerous lamp manufacturers ensured that their findings were implemented.
The main focus of the project is the complete depth indexing of the DBM’s lamp collection, as the basis for a catalogue of holdings. A further aim is to examine the development of the miner’s lamp with the methods of modern technological historiography and historical object research. The indexing of the lamp collection is based on the indexing principles now adopted in the IT system of montan.dok; source material from the Bergbau-Archiv will also be used. The results are to be published as a monograph, combined with a CD-ROM to allow additional visual presentation of the objects (possibly to be distributed over the Internet with interactive components). Individual findings will also be incorporated into a new permanent exhibition on miners’ lamps.


Funding

Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum

Duration

2003 - 2010