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Barba, Alvaro Alonso

1. Dates
Born: Spain, c. 1569 (According to Rodriguez Carracido, 15 Nov. 1569.)
Died: Peru, 1662
Dateinfo: Birth Uncertain
Lifespan: 93
2. Father
Occupation: No Information
No information on financial status, although it is almost impossible not to believe that the family was poor.
3. Nationality
Birth: Spanish
Career: Spanish colonial
Death: Spanish colonial
4. Education
Schooling: No University
There is no mention at all of university education.
5. Religion
Affiliation: Catholic 6. Discipline: metallurgy.
From observations in Peru, he developed the slightly earlier crude amalgamation process into the one that lasted.
6. Scientific Disciplines
Primary: None
7. Means of Support
Primary: 7. Support: Church Living
Barba was a priest in the Catholic church by 1588, the time of the first information about him.
Sent to Peru in 1588, where he spent life as priest.
From 1624, served in Potosi, apparently at the request of Juan de Lizarazu, Pres. of the Real Audiancia de la Plata of Peru; he wrote his book, El arte de los metales, at the urging of Lazarazu. Dedicated the book to Lazarazu. It was published in Spain at the royal press, I assume through the support of Lazarazu.
He returned to Spain in 1658 to advise on extraction of metals; he was very critical of government's policy on this in Spain; he returned to America in 1662 and died.
8. Patronage
Type: Governmental Official
9. Technological Involvement
Type: Metallurgy
10. Scientific Societies
Memberships: None
  1. Gran enciclopedia RIALP.
  2. José Maria Lopez Piñero, et al., Diccionaria historico de la ciencia moderna en España, 2 vols. (Barcelona: Ediciones Peninsula, 1983). Lopez Pinero, Ciencia y tecnica en la sociedad espanola de los siglos XVI y XVII, (Barcelona: Labor, 1979).
  3. J.E. Munoz, "Alvaro Alonso Barba," Anales de la Universidad Central de Quito, 93 (1964), 241-55.
  4. Modesto Bargallo, La mineria y la metalurgia en la American espanola durante la epoca colonial, (Mexico, 1955), especially pp. 223-5.
  5. Jose Rodriguez Carracido, "Alvaro Alonso Barba," Estudios historico-criticos de la ciencia espanola, 2nd ed. (Madrid, 1917), pp. 169-84.
Not Available and Not Consulted
  1. J.R. Mourelo, "Un libro famoso (El Arte de los metales de A. Alonso Barba)," Revista de4 la Academia de Ciencias, 29 (1932), 9-52.
  2. E. Portela, "Aspectos tecnologicos modernos en la obra metalurgica de Alvaro Alonso Barba," Estudios sobre la ciencia en la España de la contrreforma, (Valencia, in press in 1979). I find mention of a dissertation in Spain by Jose M. Barnados on Barba, which was not published at the time of the reference.
Compiled by:
Richard S. Westfall
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Indiana University

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©1995 Al Van Helden
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