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Watermill with mill wheel, Franconian Switzerland

A mill ( Old High German  muli ; from Latin molina or Latin molere for grinding) is a system, a machine or a device to crush lumpy feed material into a fine or finely grained end product. Therefore, apart from a shredding device, there is often a device for size separation ( sieving , sifting ). If the requirements for the degree of fineness of the end product are lower, crushers are used for size reduction.

Historically, the term mill is used in a broader sense for commercial systems that are operated with wind or water power ( paper mill , sawmill , stone mill ).

All technical processes (acceptance, cleaning, grinding , sifting, transport , storage, packaging) are summarized under the term milling technology . Teaching and research on mills and milling (terminology, technology, ecology, ethnology, economics, history, law, protection, conservation and restoration and their aesthetic values) is called molinology .


The history of the mills

Millstones were part of the Mesolithic culture even before the transition to a productive economy ( Neolithic ) . The already well-known mortar was later replaced by hand-operated rotary mills. In Roman times, large mills ( Göpel ) are known from Pompeii , for example , which were operated with mules . Hydropower has been used since Roman times. The Roman engineer Vitruvius planned the mills, for example the Karlsmühle as a stone mill for cutting marble blocks on the Ruwer near Trier / Mosel . According to Örjan Wikander, the Karlsmühle is the oldest mill north of the Alps . A water mill from the Merovingian era was discovered in 1993 in the Paartal near Dasing; it is from the year 744 AD. Another early mill is from 833 AD; it was excavated in the Rotbachtal near Erftstadt-Niederberg. Wind power has been used since the Middle Ages .

Important people in the history of the mill

Classification of the mills

According to the type of company

According to the products (modern classification)

Historic stamping plant of the oil mill in the Brandhöfer mill near Gschwend

According to the type of construction (modern division)

Scheme of a grinding process 1 = pouring hopper, 2 = vibrating shoe, 3 = feed regulator, 4 = feed slide, 5 = three or four blows, 6 = vibrating iron, 7 = running stone, 8 = bottom stone, 9 = pick, 10 = driver, 11 = mill iron 12 = adjusting screws, 13 = floor stone storage, 14 = frame / chest

According to the type of drive (historical classification)

Propulsion by muscle power (humans / animals)

Amrum windmill from 1771 in fog
Daubisbergermühle in Ehrbachtal (Hunsrück)
Watermill in Boitzenburg, Uckermark
Twelve-sided Britz windmill with stone grinding courses
Thalhof mill in Lambichl, municipality of Köttmannsdorf, Carinthia, Austria

Propulsion by hydropower

Propulsion by wind power

Propulsion by engine power



Mill day


chronologically ascending

German-speaking area, Europe and the world

  • Johann Matthias Beyer: Theatrum machinarum molarium, or the arena of mill construction (= Jacob Leupolds [founder]: Theatro machinarum . 9th part). 3 volumes, new, increased edition, Waltherische Hof-Buchhandlung, Dresden 1767/1788 ( digitized in the University and State Library Düsseldorf ).
  • Johann Matthias Beyer: The scene of mill architecture . Waltherische Hof-Buchhandlung, Dresden 1803. (1st edition, Leipzig 1735).
  • D. Johann Georg Krünitz: Economic encyclopedia or general system of the state, city, house and Agriculture in alphabetical order. Part five and ninety: mills. Bookseller Joachim Pauli, Berlin 1804.
  • Johannes Mager , Günter Meißner, Wolfgang Orf: The cultural history of the mills . Edition Leipzig, Leipzig 1988. ISBN 978-3-361-00208-1 .
  • Johannes Mager: Mill wing and water wheel. Mills and lifts for water and brine . 2nd edition, Fachbuchverlag, Leipzig 1990, ISBN 978-3-343-00257-3 .
  • Heinrich Herzberg: The mill between religion and superstition . Verlag für Bauwesen, Berlin 1994, ISBN 3-345-00574-3 .
  • Eugen Ernst: Mills through the ages . Theiss, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 978-3-8062-1935-7 .
  • Adam Lucas: Wind, Water, Work. Ancient and Medieval Milling Technology (= Technology and Change in History. Volume 8). Koninklijke Brill, Leiden / Boston 2006, ISBN 90-04-14649-0 (social and technical aspects of medieval milling).
  • Jürgen Gaebeler: The early history of the sawmills as a result of mill diversification . 2nd, expanded and revised edition, Kessel Verlag, Remagen 2006, ISBN 3-935638-20-5 .
  • Klaus Grewe: The relief representation of an ancient stone saw machine from Hierapolis in Phrygia and its significance for the history of technology . In: Martin Bachmann (ed.): Construction technology in ancient and pre-ancient Asia Minor . International conference 13. – 16. June 2007 in Istanbul (= publications of the German Archaeological Institute Istanbul . Volume 9). Byzas, Istanbul 2009, ISBN 978-975-8072-23-1 , pp. 429–454 ( full text ( Memento from May 11, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) [PDF; 2.0 MB; accessed on January 5, 2019]) .
  • Carl Friedrich Ganzel, Friedrich Wulff: The Quest for American Milling Secrets . Ed .: Derek Ogden, International Molinological Society. Congleton 2010, ISBN 978-92-9134-025-5 (American milling and flour production).
  • Wolfgang Kuhlmann: water, wind and muscle power. The flour mill in legends and facts . Ed .: German Society for Milling Customers and Mill Maintenance . Petershagen-Frille 2012, ISBN 978-3-00-037659-7 .
  • Philipp Oppermann, Torsten Rüdinger: Small mill customer. German history of technology from the friction stone to the industrial mill . 2nd, revised and updated edition, Edition Terra, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-9811626-7-7 .
  • Werner Schnelle (author), Rüdiger Hagen (editing): Mill construction. Preserve and preserve water wheels and windmills . Ed .: German Institute for Standardization . 2nd, revised edition, Beuth Verlag, Berlin / Vienna / Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-410-21342-0 .
  • Burghard Kirsch, Alois Odenthal: Specialized mathematics of milling technology . 7th edition, Bayerischer Müllerbund, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-9812436-4-2 .

Individual regions

  • Helmut Düntzsch, Rudolf Tschiersch, Eberhard Wächtler , Otfried Wagenbreth : Mills. History of the flour mills. Technical monuments in Central and Eastern Germany . German publishing house for basic industry, Leipzig / Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3-342-00672-2 .
  • Karl Schumacher: The mills in the Heisterbach Valley - How they rattled from the Middle Ages to modern times. Water management, historical development, mill technology, legends and poems, principle site plan . Ed .: Heimatverein Oberdollendorf and Römlinghoven, 2nd, reviewed edition, Königswinter 2011, DNB 1021390569 .
  • Birgit Poppe, Klaus Silla: Windmills on the Lower Rhine . Mercator, Duisburg 2014, ISBN 978-3-87463-540-0 .
  • Detlef Schnell: Mills and hydropower plants in Pomerania . Edition Pommern, Elmenhorst in Vorpommern 2018, ISBN 978-3-939680-46-8 .

Individual evidence

  1. Autumn Letter. Retrieved January 23, 2010 ( Memento of May 15, 2005 in the Internet Archive ).
  2. Mill research. Retrieved January 23, 2010 ( MS Word ; 32 kB)
  3. Georg Abröll: Mill of the late Merovingian period in Dasing (Gem. Dasing). In: Bezirksheimatpflege Schwaben (Ed.): Mühlen in Schwaben. Documentation. (online, accessed on September 16, 2014)  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link / www.  
  4. Petra Tutlies: A Carolingian watermill in the Rotbachtal. In: Jürgen Kunow (Ed.): Archeology in the Rhineland 2005. Konrad Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-8062-2058-1 , pp. 106-108. (PDF)
  5. website of the Association Schweizermühle friends VSM

Web links

Commons : Mills  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Mills  - Sources and full texts
Wiktionary: Mill  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Mill  - Quotes