Gabriele Körlin/Gerd Weisgerber:
Picks and Hammers in Middle Age Mining
Lying crossed over each other, the pick and hammer are the symbol of the German mining industry. If the tools stand with their heads up, it means that the mine is still working and if the heads are down, it means that the mine has been closed. Therefore, the heads-down position is also used to indicate an ancient or even prehistoric mine. This symbol may lead people to think that miners have always carried these two instruments, using them to cut their way through the rocks and find the ore. This was, however, by no means the case. In fact the pick and hammer were inventions of the Middle Ages and their use was not wide-spread until the Late Middle Ages.
It is mainly from pictures of mining in the Middle Ages that we can "date" the time when the pick and hammer started to be used as a symbol of mining. The most reliable sources are the pictures on seals in documents which often carry an exact date. But other pictures also help to provide information. The article describes the work performed with the various mining tools over the ages and then goes into particular detail on the role of the pick and hammer.