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These prints are from a 17th century work by Athanasius Kircher, a Jesuit priest and contemporary of Galileo. They are among the illustrations of Kircher's encyclopedic survey of the subterranean or "hidden" world. Kircher's Mundus Subterraneus marks the first serious effort to describe the physical makeup of the earth, proposing theories (sometimes fantastic) in the areas of physics, geography, geology, and chemistry. It was, in part, based on Kircher's observations of the eruption of Vesuvius in 1637 and the two weeks of earthquakes that shook Calabria in 1638. He suggests the existence of a vast network of underground springs and reservoirs, as well as the theory that subterranean temperatures increase directly in proportion to depth.
Caillet 5783; Ferguson I, p. 467; Graesse IV: 21; Nissen ZBI 2196; Norman 1218; Sabin 37967; Shirley 436.