CHAP. 37.—THE DISCOVERY AND ORIGIN OF MINIUM.
Theophrastus states that, ninety years before the magistracy
of Praxibulus at Athens—a date which answers to the
year of our City, 439—minium was discovered by Callias the
Athenian, who was in hopes to extract gold, by submitting to
the action of fire the red sand that was found in the silver-mines.
This, he says, was the first discovery of minium. He states,
also, that in his own time, it was already found in Spain, but
of a harsh and sandy nature; as also in Colchis, upon a certain
inaccessible rock there, from which it was brought down
by the agency of darts. This, however, he says, was only an
adulterated kind of minium, the best of all being that procured
in the Cilbian Plains,1
above Ephesus, the sand of which
has just the colour of the kermes berry.2
This sand, he informs
us, is first ground to powder and then washed, the
portion that settles at the bottom being subjected to a second
washing. From this circumstance, he says, arises a difference
in the article; some persons being in the habit of preparing
their minium with a single washing, while with others it is
more diluted. The best kind, however, he says, is that which
has undergone a second washing.