The fifth volume of Dr Needham's immense undertaking covers the subjects of chemistry and chemical technology. This, the thirteenth part of the volume, is the first history of Chinese mining to appear in a western language. Covering from the Neolithic period to the present day it deals with the full range of Chinese mining from copper to mercury, arsenic to coal and a large number of other minerals and materials. The author draws extensively not only on written sources but also on archaeological remains, and observation of traditional techniques still in use. The interrelationship between Chinese mining and the social, economic and political conditions in which it took place is examined, and leads the author to conclude that these extraneous factors were probably more important in determining how mining was carried out than technological progress.
Peter J. Golas (University of Denver)
, Joseph Needham
Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:
Series: Science and Civilisation in China
26 April 1999
Professional and scholarly
List of illustrations; List of maps; List of tables; List of abbreviations; Author's note; 1. Introduction; 2. An overview of mining in China; 3. Sources; 4. Deposits; 5. The products of Chinese mining; 6. Prospecting and exploration; 7. Placer mining and surface mining; 8. Underground mining; 9. Ore dressing; 10. The copper precipitation process; 11. Labour, capital and mining technology; 12. The state and mining technology; 13. Conclusions; 14. Bibliographies; 15. General index; 15. Table of chineses dynasties; 16. Romanization convertion tables.
Reviews for Science and Civilisation in China: Volume 5, Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Part 13, Mining
'Peter Golas ... provides the necessary technical detail with very clear explanations and he makes great efforts to place the technical development in its full historical context ... Peter Golas's book gives us a clear view of the available evidence and an opportunity to argue about these questions in a more informed manner than has every been possible before.' EASTM