The sifting trommel screen is valuable to a multitude of industries, including archaeology, pharmaceuticals, coal mining, cement work, and even farming. Even though this tool now serves many purposes, the sifting screen has played a particularly notable role in the gold prospecting industry. The gold mining industry’s long history has forced those involved to constantly improve upon the mining tools, including the trommel screen. This allowed the trommel screen to develop into a versatile and widely-used tool today.
A Brief History of the Gold Prospecting Industry
For thousands of years, people have revered gold as synonymous with nobility and wealth. Regardless of geographical location, ancient cultures, like the Aztecs and Incas of the Americas and the Egyptians and Arabians of Africa, universally viewed gold as a valuable commodity. Over the years, gold evolved into a medium of exchange used to back the financial standards of nations.
Though the demand for gold has nearly always been high, actually mining for it has proven quite difficult. This is because gold is often intermingled with other minerals, like lead, copper, and silver, and usually embedded in hard rock. As a result, gold is not only difficult to locate, but also challenging to separate from other minerals and sediments. Gold miners developed several tools to overcome these challenges, like rockers, powerful crushing stamp mills, and powdering arrastres. Miners also invented the trommel screen.
What is a Trommel Screen?
The basic trommel screen is one of the most popular gold mining tools of both today and yesterday. Trommel screens sift particles, separating the tiniest gold pieces from other minerals and rocks.
The trommel screen is a highly effective modern-day tool, but its origins can be traced to the third century B.C. in Syracuse, located on the island of Sicily. Archimedes, one of the most influential geniuses of the region, designed a machine that would easily and effectively hand-pump water out of a ship’s hull. This tool became known as the Archimedes’ screw, but its simplicity and effectiveness expanded beyond the boating realm and into other industries–including gold mining.
Trommel screens range in size, from the smallest hand-held models to the massive, industrial models that can sift hundreds of yards of material an hour. Trommel screens are available in many variations, sizes, and designs, allowing this tool to adapt to the needs of both small-scale and commercial gold miners. This tool’s flexibility and simplicity make it appealing to professionals from other industries, as well; however, its long-lasting use in the gold mining arena has allowed this tool to improve and evolve into the versatile tool it is today.
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