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Alvaro Alonzo Barba

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A secular priest of whom Nicolas Antonio (Bibliotheca hispana nova, 1786) says "Baeticus ex oppido Lepe, apud Potosi"; hence of Andalusian origin. By Lepe and Potosi, Lipes in western Bolivia might be indicated. He lived at Potosi during the period when its silver-mines were most productive and luxury and revelry among the Spanish residents and mine-owners had nearly reached the climax. Father Barba, in the midst of a turmoil of sensuality, divided his time between his sacerdotal duties and a close study of the ores of this region and their treatment. There had been, since 1570, a complete revolution in the treatment of silver-ores, through the application of quick-silver, and a number of improvements followed, of which Barba had knowledge. In 1640 he published at Madrid, a book entitled "Arte de los Metales", which, though properly metallurgic and out of date, is still of value as the earliest work on South American ores and minerals. Many of its indications are well worthy the attention of miners and prospectors. This is especially the case in regard to mineral localities in Bolivia. The book was republished in Spanish in 1729, in 1770 and, recently, in Chile. There is a French translation from 1751 and one also in English.

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