Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija

The sites forming part of the proposed series constitute the most noteworthy examples of mercury mines in the world and because of this they have had an important role in the history of humanity, from ancient times up to the present day. Their moment of greatest historical significance was at the point when they complemented each other to achieve the production that was sent to America along Intercontinental Camino Real of the Spanish Empire, from Europe to Spanish America.

It dates from the second half of the 16 th Century, when the mercury amalgamation process made possible the large-scale exploitation of the silver of New Spain. Europe and America were closely tied together in a structure linking ports and cities, peoples and communication nodes in order to ensure the stability of the economic model of trading monopolies and other cultural and spiritual values developed by the Spanish Monarchy to serve as the basis or the goal of the Empire.

The transcendence of this phenomenon was such that while it marked the territorial structure of America, among other aspects, it also influenced the subsequent development of the mercury culture on both sides of the Atlantic and has continued to the present day.

A relative rare metal, liquid at room temperature, mercury is produced only by a few mines across the world, of which the largest is at Almadén in Spain and the second largest at Idrija in Slovenia. In addition to the aforementioned historical link, there are many similarities between the two mining complexes in terms of other historical periods, the way in which the population responded to the difficult living conditions of mercury production, and especially the amazing technical and scientific response to all kinds of challenges. They jointly form a set of assets constituting a serial property representing a complex and inter complementary mercury mining engineering methods and related industrial and technical development from the Roman Empire time to the fi rst years of the 21th century.It  also offers a complete panorama of the different uses and utilities of mercury throughout history.

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