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Dolomites > The Dolomites and their history > Man: craftsman, artist and adventurer

Man: craftsman, artist and adventurer

DolomitMan becomes a craftsman and an artist
Everywhere in the Dolomites, over the ages, man has searched for minerals that he thought could be useful. In some regions, such as Val Sugana or the valley of the Isarco, mines with many ramifications were developed.

Dolomieu: a chance discovery
When the French adventurer Déodat de Dolomieu crossed the Brenner Pass in 1789, he discovered a particular rock to which the Swiss scientist Nicolas de Saussure later gave the name dolomie, known in English as dolomite. The fact that the name of the mineral was extended to an entire mountain range resulted in a long, bitter debate.

The great age of scientists
In 1860 the German geologist Freiherr Ferdinand von Richthofen discovered that the Dolomites were really ancient coral reefs. Soon afterwards the Imperial Geological Institute (K&K) in Vienna, with its first director Wilhelm Haidinger, became the main point of reference for research on the Dolomites.

Encounter with the first tourists
Tourism began in this region in the early nineteenth century, not thanks to mountaineers as in many parts of the Alps, but due to the many visiting mineralogists and geologists. In 1864, two English travelers and writers, Josiah Gilbert and George Churchill Cheetham, published the book “The Dolomite Mountains”. After the publication of that book the name “Dolomites” was definitively applied to this geographical region.

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Foto: Michael Wachtler

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