Valvasor and Minerology

Written by Ernest Faninger, 1989


Valvasor gives an extensive account of iron mines, as well as of lead and copper deposits, in the then Duchy of Carniola, but no special mention is made of mineral ores in this context. It is known today, of course, that iron ore occurs principally as limonite. except for the Karavanke region above the locality Sava, where siderite has been mined. In his times lead was mined only at Malnek in Lower Carniola, and copper was not mined with the exception of a small prospect near Škofja Loka. The mining situation in Idrija is described in great detail. Valvasor even refers to two forms of mercury, the “virgin” and the “ordinary”, which are equivalent today to native mercury and cinnabar, respectively. He also categorically denies that silver could be produced there. Further, there are mentions of many minerals which may be found in Carniola. Thirteen kinds of marble are also described.

Valvasor was the first to draw attention to coal deposits in the vicinity of Zagorje on the Sava river, referring to them as “the blood of coal. He also gave an interesting account of “snakes tongues” in Camiola, which he attributed to one of Nature’s whims. They are, in fact fossilized sharks’ teeth, as has been known for quite some time.