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The History of Mining: The events, technology and people involved in the industry that forged the modern world by Michael Coulson

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1. Introduction

The ancient world presents a patchwork of contrasts. Over the centuries great technological strides were made by the Romans and the Chinese, only for massive geo-political events in Europe in the Medieval period – such as the rise of the Visigoths and the Vikings – to throw the whole process into reverse. So the developments in hygiene, water, heating and sewage that the Romans had tackled so successfully were lost and the consequences in terms of public health breakdown returned time and again over the centuries to threaten civilisation.

In such circumstances of uncertainty it is not surprising that technological innovation and thus economic advance were so modest. This uncertainty was materially fuelled by continuing political ...

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