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Front page and index page 4

Pgina 1

PREFACE
IN spite of its fundamental importance in the history of mineralogy and chemical technology, no modern annotated translation of die treatise On Stones by Theophrastus has been available to students of the history of science. Over two hundred years have elapsed since the appearance of the first English translation by John Hill in 1746, and over one hundred and fifty years since the publication of Hill's second edition in 1774. The first French and German versions, which are largely based on Hill's translation, are not only difficult to obtain now but are also obsolete in many ways, especially in their scientific notes. Within the last fifty years a French translation by F. de Mely and a German translation by K. Mieleitner have been published as parts of other works, but they are not accompanied by either text or commentary. We believe that the growing interest in the history of pure and applied science warrants the publication of a new and annotated English translation of this important Greek work. Such a translation is especially desirable at the present time, since few students of science are now able to acquire a reading knowledge of Greek. Even students of Greek who are unfamiliar with the peculiar style and terminology of Theophrastus may find this translation useful. The text and critical notes should also be of interest to them, and the commentary may be of value, for withiout some interpretation the numerous technical terms used in the treatise and the rationale of the processes described in it are not easily understood. We hope that the occasional items of miscellaneous information scattered through the work may be of some interest to students in other fields. There is ample evidence that this particular treatise has been neglected by scholars generally, and Hill's quaint prefatory remarks are nearly as applicable today as they were over two centuries ago: The many References to Theophrastus, and the Quotations from him, so frequent in the Works of all the later Writers of Fossils, would make one believe, at first sight, that nothing was more universally known, or perfectly understood, than the Treatise before us: But when we come to enquire more strictly into the Truth, and examine with our own Eyes what it really is that he has left us, we shall

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22/05/2013 17:35:04