Georgius Agricola

Georgius Agricola ( born March 24, 1494 in Glauchau, † November 21, 1555 in Chemnitz), whose real name is George Pawer and Bauer ( Peter Mosellanus, his Leipzig professor advised to latinize him his name), was a German scientist. Agricola is also called "the father of mineralogy ". As an outstanding Renaissance scholar, he also distinguished himself through outstanding achievements in education, medicine, metrology, philosophy and history.


Youth and studies

Agricola was born in 1494 as the second of seven children of a clothier and dyer in Glauchau. He studied from 1514 to 1518 ancient languages ​​at the University of Leipzig with Peter Mosellanus ( 1493-1524 ), a follower of Erasmus of Rotterdam, who then recommended him in Zwickau. So Agricola was there first vice-principal ( 1518), then rector of the Zwickau Council School ( 1519) and created a new type of school, Latin, Greek and Hebrew lessons in combination with Commercial Client: agriculture, viticulture, construction and metrology, mathematics, pharmacology and Military Affairs.

Stay in Italy

After Agricola studied in Leipzig in 1522 again, this time medicine, he went in 1523 at the universities of Bologna and Padua. In 1524 he went to Venice to edit the Galen edition Aldus Manutius in publishing. In 1526 he returned to Chemnitz.

Back in Germany

In 1527 Agricola married the widow Anna Meyner from Chemnitz and now settled as a physician and pharmacist in Jachymov (now Jáchymov ) down. In 1531 he was city physician in Chemnitz, where he had four times held the mayor's office ( 1546, 1547, 1551 and 1553). He was also employed in the civil service as a Saxon court historian. As a polymath Agricola did research in the field of medicine, pharmacy, alchemy, philology and pedagogy, politics and history, metrology, geosciences and mining. Agricola joined humanistic scholarship with technical knowledge.

The result was his first work Bermannus, sive de re metallica (1530), in which he also describes methods for Erzsuche and processing and extractive metallurgy as the progress of mining equipment, the mine surveying, transportation, treatment and processing of ores. In De mensuris et ponderibus from 1533, he describes the Greek and Roman weights and measures - at that time there was no uniform dimensions, which significantly disrupted trade. This work laid the foundation for Agricola's reputation as a humanist scholar.

With several plants Agricola founded the earth sciences: he describes the origin of the substances in the earth in De ortu et causis subterraneorum of 1544, the nature of the bulging of the earth's interior things in his De natura eorum, quae effluunt ex terra of 1545, Minerals in De natura Fossilium and the ore deposits and ore mining in ancient and modern times ( De veteribus et novis metallis ). Also Meurer - letter ( Epistola ad Meurerum ) of 1546 is one of these works.

Agricola was married twice and had (at least) six children. Two years after the death of his first wife in 1540 married the 48 -year-old town doctor 30 years younger daughter Anna of the former owner of Kupfersaigerhütte Ulrich Schütz Younger Thus he married into the then richest Chemnitz family. On November 21, 1555 at the age of 61 years, he died in Chemnitz. After the Reformation in Saxony, the city refused to allow the Catholic Agricola the funeral at Chemnitz hallway. He was then buried in the Castle Church of Zeitz, what on the initiative of his friend, the scholar and bishop Julius Pflugk of Zeitz, happened.

De natura libri X Fossilium

Based on many of their own investigations took Agricola in the ten books of De natura Fossilium ( 1546), the mineralogical and geological knowledge of his time together. Under fossils were understood at that time not only fossilized creatures, but also rocks and minerals. The work is considered the first comprehensive textbook or manual of mineralogy, which used a systematic scientific approach. In this occurrence, extraction, properties and uses of minerals are described. Especially Agricola classified the minerals based on their physical properties such as shape, color, transparency, luster and weight ( density).

In the first book general mineral properties are treated in the second earth, followed by books on " lean " and " fat" salts (bitumen ). In the fifth to seventh book, among other gems are described in the eighth and ninth book of metallic slag. The tenth book finally deals with mineral mixtures.

Main work - De re metallica libri XII

Through numerous trips in the mining district of the Saxon and Bohemian Erzgebirge Agricola won an overview of the whole technology of mining and metallurgy in his time. The result is his major work, The Book of Metallurgy De re metallica libri XII appeared in 1556, a year after his death, in Latin, in Basel. It was later translated into several other languages ​​. Philip Bechius (1521-1560), a friend of Agricola and professor at the University of Basel, rendered the inscription into German and published it in 1557 under the title From Bergkwerck XII books. This is the first systematic investigation of the technological mining and metallurgy, and remained for two centuries the authoritative work on the subject.

The first volume presents a timely apology and compares the mining industry with other industries, such as agriculture or trade. In the second volume the development conditions are discussed, ie geographic structure, drainage, roads, land tenure and territorial sovereignty; in the third volume of the Mine Surveying. The fourth volume comments on the distribution of the coal fields and the duties of the mining officials. In the fifth volume the various shaft types and their development are described, also the Gangbau and surveying underground. The sixth is the largest band and treated the equipment of mining. The Taste of the ores found in the seventh volume, their preparation process in the eighth volume. The melting and the process for metal recovery, including a guide to Schmelzofenbau can be found in the ninth volume. In the volumes ten, eleven and twelve it is still around the sheaths of precious metals, the extraction of salts, sulfur and bitumen as well as glass.

The complete works exclusively are objective properties to the discussion, all the traditions and alchemical statements are examined for their veracity. Lack of uniform dimensions takes Agricola respect to known information:

" In small, medium or coarse Zinnerzstücken the experienced Schmelzer needs ... if it merges the first, slow fire, if the second, medium, when the third, sharp; However, much less sharp than when it merges gold, silver or copper. "


" ... You have to heat as long as one takes fifteen steps to go. "

The descriptions of the minerals to build on the works of Avicenna and Albertus Magnus.

This book of Metallurgy was also known Francis Bacon, who took it important suggestions. It contains a modern theory of the origin of veins but also sections on goblins and dragons in the pits, which called Agricola " creatures underground " ( De animantibus subterraneis ).

Posthumous honors

1926 found Oskar von Miller, creator of the Deutsches Museum, and Conrad Matschoß, director of the Association of German Engineers and Nestor of German art history, the Georg- Agricola Society at the German Museum. The first aim of the society is the publication of the first modern German edition of Agricola's major work.

1960 constituted the Association of German Engineers - under the German Association decisive participation Technical and Scientific Associations eV and the mining industry - the " Georg- Agricola Society for the Promotion of History of Science and Technology eV

In 1961, named the Saalfeld Hospital (now Thuringia clinics ) " Georgius Agricola".

The university library of the TU Freiberg was named in 1980 after Georgius Agricola. In Freiberg, there is also a Agricolastraße. Since the year 1995, the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum Mining bears the name Technische Fachhochschule Georg Agricola. Even the hospital in Zeitz, where he lies in the so -called Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, the castle church, buried, is named after him. A fraternity based in Aachen and Clausthal- Zellerfeld in 1948 was named Academic Agricola club hammer and chisel and changed it later in Agricola Akademischer Verein. The West Saxon University of Zwickau has a Georgius Agricola construction. In Glauchau and Chemnitz, as well as in Hohenmolsen (Saxony- Anhalt), there is a Georgius Agricola -Gymnasium. In the city of Zeitz (Saxony -Anhalt ) is further named a street after Georgius Agricola. Also Schneeberg gave a street the name of the scholar.


  • Bermannus sive de re metallica, Basel 1530 ( digitized ) (reprint: Belles Lettres, Paris, 1990, ISBN 2-251-34504-3 )
  • De bello adversus Join now, Nuremberg, 1531 ( digitized version / PDF)
  • De mensuris et ponderibus libri V, Paris 1533 Georgii agricolae Libri Medici Qvinqve De mensuris & ponderibus: In quibus pleraq [ ue ] à Bvdaeo & portio parum animaduersa diligenter excutiuntur. - Basileae: Frobenius & Episcopius, Aug. 1533 Digitized edition of the University and State Library Dusseldorf.
  • ( Digitized Ed Venice 1535)
  • Facsimile printing, VDI -Verlag, Dusseldorf, 1978, ISBN 3-18-400400-7
  • Facsimile printing with commentary ( By Hans Prescher ), 1985, ISBN 3-527-17535-0