Inflammable Non-inflammable Stones
Stones Gems Marbles Rocks Metals Mixed Composite Minerals
would be expected he had great difficulty placing many so-called
minerals in this classification, particularly the fossils and some of
the materials considered as gems. Fossils were not generally recognized
as such although he recognized coquina as consisting of fossil shells.
was not possible for him to discard or discredit all the time-honored
fantasies regarding minerals, particularly the mythical and magical
properties ascribed to so many of them. While some are discarded others
are mentioned but in context that indicates serious doubt on his part.
It is interesting to note that the one outstanding error he makes is
the classification of camphor as a corpus subterraneum related to petroleum, an error based on deductive reasoning and not on observation.
De Natura Fossilium was
first published by the Forben press at Basel in 1546 and later editions
appeared in 1558 (folio), 1612 (12mo), and 1657 (folio). The second
edition, also published by the Forben press, appeared three years after
his death. The work was translated into Italian in 1612 and into German
uses some 573 Latin mineral names and 115 Greek names. Two minerals are
described by concise phrases. Twenty-seven mineral or "fossil"
materials are given the same Latin name as some other wholly dissimilar
material and three are given Greek names. At least twenty mineral
species are described for the first time and several materials or
minerals are described but not named. In spite of the scope of the work
there are several noteworthy omissions of mineral names undoubtedly
well known to him. Apparently Agricola was slow to accept certain
changes introduced by his contemporaries, for example, the use of the
name natron instead of nitrum.
from its historical interest this work is of particular value in
giving mineral localities and describing the occurrence of many ore
minerals for the first time.