A technique unique to China
called geobotanical prospecting
was used starting in the 5th century BC. People in the region noticed a connection between vegetation and the minerals located underground. There were particular plants that thrived on and indicated areas rich in copper, nickel, zinc, and allegedly gold though the later has not been confirmed. The connection arose out of an agricultural interest concerning soil compositions. While the process was known to the Chinese region since antiquity, it was not written about and studied in the west until Italy in the 1700s.
- Craddock, Paul T. Early Metal Mining and Production. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press 1995.
- Temple, Robert. The Genius of China. London: Prion Books Limited 1999. pp. 159.