Fordulópontok és meghatározó személyiségek Erdély altalajkincseinek megismeréstörténetében 1920 előtt [Turning Points and Defining Personalities in the Study of Subsurface Resources of Transylvania before 1920]
This volume is an attempt to paint a picture of the history of natural resources and mining in Transylvania, through a few selected examples arranged in a chronological order, up to the point in time mentioned in the title. It relies on a scientific approach, but also tries to give an account that is easy to read and understand.
Some of the chapters identify the locations of medieval mines that were known from documents but had no precise geographic positions; others call the attention to the fact that, taking into account their characteristics, some modern-day mines were also active during medieval times. The book guides the reader through the adventurous history of learning about the geology of energy resources (natural gas, coal) in Transylvania. In the process of doing that, it also highlights ideas and concepts that were introduced here for the first time in the history of science, such as the industrial use of natural gas, pioneering research on single-celled fossils, and the clarification of stratigraphic controversies through the use of paleontology. The effect of the scientific, economic, societal, and political context on the exploration and exploitation of raw materials – and mineral waters as well – is also discussed.
By describing the work of a few outstanding Transylvanian geologists (e.g., Franz Herbich, Gyula Halaváts, and Mór Pálfy), we also highlight that, despite all the difficulties of doing scientific work in a small and often disadvantaged country, thanks to these scientists, this region was able to keep up with, or even lead, the scientific advances in Europe and the rest of the world. In some cases we also discuss their contributions in areas outside of the geosciences. By summarizing and cataloguing those publications of these researchers that are relevant to Transylvania, we also hope to aid further studies in the history of geoscience in this region.