Mapping the geographies of early modern mining knowledge. A digital history of the study tours of the Swedish Bureau of Mines, 1691–1826

Project description

Early modern mines were like subterranean roots from which fiscal-military states drew military, economic, and scientific power. To improve this vital trade, fledgling European mining administrations encouraged travelling officials to tour foreign territories to collect new useful knowledge. This three-year collaborative project between researchers at Uppsala and Stockholm University uses state-of-the-art digital methods to explore the collection of foreign knowledge of the Swedish Bureau of Mines through their system of study tours. 

For over 100 years – from the late seventeenth century until the early 1800s – the Bureau encouraged its officials to travel across Europe and beyond. They meticulously documented these voyages, and over time produced numerous handwritten travelogues, which are preserved to this day in the Swedish National Archives. Through, e.g., Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), and Deep Mapping, we will turn the Bureau’s archive into an enriched dataset suitable for mapping the geographies of early modern mining knowledge, and understanding the practices of the travelling mining officials. Using this data, we will carry out a detailed, yet long-term, analysis of the circulation of mining knowledge. Consequently, the project will provide new insights of how digital methods can be integrated in historical analysis, while also improving our understanding of the rise of modern science, state-making, and industrialisation.

The project leader is Jacob Orrje, Department of Science and History of Ideas, Uppsala University. Researchers in the project are also Måns Jansson (Department of Economic History, Uppsala University), and Olof Karsvall (Swedish National Archives / Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University).

Illustration from Reinhold Angersteins reseberättelse.
From the travelogue of Reinhold Angerstein, Bergskollegium’s archive, Swedish National Archives. Photo: Jacob Orrje.
Illustration from Reinhold Angerstein's travelogue
From the travelogue of Reinhold Angerstein, Bergskollegium’s archive, Swedish National Archives. Photo: Jacob Orrje.
Illustration with map from Reinhold Angerstein's travelogue
From the travelogue of Reinhold Angerstein, Bergskollegium’s archive, Swedish National Archives. Photo: Jacob Orrje.
Handwritten text and maschine from Reinhold Angerstein's travelogue
From the travelogue of Reinhold Angerstein, Bergskollegium’s archive, Swedish National Archives. Photo: Jacob Orrje.

About the Project

Duration

2022-2024

Funding

The Swedish Research Council

Researchers
Last modified: 2022-01-27