In the second half of the eighteenth century there was an explosion in travel literature in the German-speaking countries. Travel literature became an important medium for broadening of people's horizons. When transferring travel experiences into the written word the traveller had a wealth of literary forms at their disposal: the diary, the letter, the narrative structured according to the chronology of the journey. Moreover, topography, ‘statistics’ in the contemporary sense and ‘apodemics’ (the art of travelling) as a professional basis for travelling offered the potential for a scientific approach. The scientific interest in ‘mineralogical’ journeys aimed at acquiring reliable empirical data, and required formal strategies to counter the superficiality and selectivity of fieldwork. The choice of one strategy of description, and that is the thesis presented here, is based on epistemological factors. This paper looks at three works of travel literature, in which the chosen form of writing correlates with the central scientific findings of the respective authors: Belsazar de la Motte Hacquet (1739–1815), Ignaz von Born (1742–1791) and Ehrenbert von Fichtel (1732–1795) all of whom wrote ‘mineralogical’ books based on extensive travelling in the eastern Habsburg territories.
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In the last four centuries geologists have traversed the globe, searching for economically important materials or simply to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. Geologists have often been at the vanguard of scientific exploration.
The microscopist Robert Hooke explored the Isle of Wight, and Charles Darwin the Cape Verde islands and parts of South America. The volcanic wonders of Italy and central France attracted native and foreign visitors including Lyell and Murchison. The Tyrrell brothers faced great hardship in northern Canada, as did the actor and mineralogist Charles Lewis Giesecke in Greenland. The development of Sydney, Australia depended on finding limestone for building. French geologists relied on camels in the Sahara, and Grenville Cole trusted his tricycle to carry him across Europe.
Four Centuries of Geological Travel: The Search for Knowledge on Foot, Bicycle, Sledge and Camel focuses on the complexities of geological exploration and will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, historians of science and to the general reader interested in science.