ABSTRACT

This article examines the perception and valuation of mineral resources in sixteenth and seventeenth-century European mining regions. It aims to critically review the utilitarian and anthropocentric view of mining and mineral resource production, circulation and consumption that is shaped by a long tradition of economic history and history of technology. To understand human relation to the underground and its resources only in terms of innovation and rationalization means to ignore the many different layers by which resource landscapes affected the miner’s perception of nature and mineral matter. The literary, material and visual culture of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century central European mining sites proves to be fruitful ground for historicizing the interplay between manual labor, mechanical arts, natural resources and religion in mining landscapes. This paper aims to connect the material and immaterial or the physical and symbolic dimensions of human-nature entanglement in early modern mining and suggests a way to locate human and geological agency within the context of a divine oeconomy.

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