Description of property
Two key dates can be connected to their scientific discovery.
The first is 1789, the year in which Deodat de Dolomieu identified the peculiarities of the mineral which makes up these mountains, to be named “Dolomites” in his honour a few years later by Nicolas de Saussure (son of Horace Benedict), who analysed them in a laboratory. The second was in 1822, the year in which Leopold von Buch stayed for a long time in these mountains to study their “strange” stratigraphy, summoning his friend Alexander von Humboldt, considered to be the best scholar of his time. The relationship and reports of these eminent scientists were not only important for science since they were also prominent cultural figures in XIXth century Europe. Thanks to their “universal spirit”, they were the first to grasp the intrinsic beauty of the geological and geomorphological peculiarities of these mountains, as is evident from their writings.
Before the romantic aesthetic took hold, so important for the definition of the concept of natural beauty in western culture, the peaks of the Dolomites were not minimally considered, although always visited by painters and cultural figures. Thus the aesthetic importance of the Dolomites began to be recognised with the dissemination of scientific discovery, but was further popularised a few years later with the first travel books.
This passage is recorded by two important events.
The first was in 1837, the publication date of the first guidebooks specifically aimed at travellers and explorers: Murray’s handbook, published in London by John Murray and “Reisehandbuch durch Tirol” by Beda Weber. In these travel manuals, the “dolomite mountains” are described as unequalled, attracting the attention of the first English and German travellers. The second was in 1864, the year the travel log of the Englishmen J.Gilbert and G.C.Churchill, entitled “The Dolomite Mountains”, was published. The success of this popular book, presented the mountains to the public at large and extended the name “Dolomites” from the mineral to describe the whole region. Alpine literature contributed to the universal adoption of the name Dolomites, not only in common use but also for official cartography, with the guide “The Eastern Alps” by J.Ball in 1868.
Thus the Dolomites can be perfectly interpreted both scientifically and aesthetically and therefore their nomination is deliberately proposed under criterion viii and criterion vii simultaneously. As the history of their discovery explains, these
two criteria are indissolubly linked, just as the tie between scientific interest and love of natural beauty of their “discoverers” is inseparable.