20 November 2016

Gold Stamp Mill, Bucium-Poieni, Alba County

The village of Poieni rests 10 kilometers away from Abrud, in the region known as Țara Moților, at an approximate altitude of 1000 meters, on the bank of Arieșul Mic. Following the course of the three brooks that cross the village, the houses and installations have shaped a dispersed type of settlement. Tightly linked, terrace agriculture at 1000 to 1200 meters above sea level and animal farming, as well as other ancient activities such as wine making and gold mining were the main local occupations. A specialized trade in itself, gold mining attests to the abundance of this precious mineral and confirms that this activity has a distinct history in our country. Many families in the Apuseni Mountains worked in rural mining. The gold was harvested from two sources. The utmost rudimentary exploitation method involved straining alluvial sediments collected from mineral-rich rivers such as Arieș, Ampoi, Crișul Alb and Crișul Negru. Another practice involved gathering and processing gold from mineral veins and state-abandoned mines that had been rented out to rural miners. Rich ore was mined using a hammer and pick only. Later, the mineral was ground in grinders or metal hand-mills, while the lower-grade veins went to the stamp. The great number of stamp mills spread around the region as well as their perpetuation all throughout the 20th century is a clear testimony that this time-honored activity was of undeniable economical important to the area.

Dating back to 1926, Poieni stamp mill was transferred to the Museum and reconditioned in 1950. The construction accommodating the installation is an open-air shed that features a gable roof with a wood board cover. Water-run, the the stamp mill features nine wooden hammers – also referred to as “arrows” – with granite-reinforced end pieces. The hammers are held together around a massive frame. The frame holds a number of baskets inside which the ore is crushed by the falling hammers taking turns in being lifted by the cams on a horizontal shaft. The shaft activates the installation via the water wheel attached to one of its two ends. Steadily dampened and smashed, the ore turns into a thick paste which glides through two sieves separating the baskets from the collecting bassinet where the gangue is gathered. The heavier gold rests on the bottom of the sieves. Later, it is taken out and washed through, while the gangue goes through another wash itself to make sure all the gold is removed.