Shannon R. Zeltmann '21, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Department 1



Minerals were displayed in wonder rooms for their beauty and used by apothecaries for their medical properties and artists, for sculptures and pigments. Minerals during the Renaissance were collected and displayed in wonder rooms to illustrate the beauty of nature. Humanists would have categorized minerals by their external qualities- color, transparency, form, luster, and smell. Over time, geologists continue to study these external qualities when they are first analyzing minerals, and the internal properties. Today the six major factors in identifying minerals are cleavage, the tendency of minerals to break into flat surfaces; color; crystal form or how the form of the mineral changes as the mineral crystallizes; hardness, the resistance to scratching to measure its strength; luster, the light reflection; and streak, the color of the streak left when a mineral is grinded on porcelain. [excerpt]

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Produced as part of a collaboration between Kay Etheridge's course FYS-188: Exploration of the Marvelous: Art and Science in the Renaissance, and Felicia Else's course ARTH 284: Wonders of Nature and Artifice: The Renaissance Quest for Knowledge.

Original version online at

Includes audio guides for the quartz and prehnite samples.