Dolomite, the history of a revolutionary rock

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Deodàt de Dolomieu was a French geologist whose history is closely connected to the Dolomites, from whom they take their name. De Dolomieu was born in the Savoy mountains and became a devoted scholar of eruptive phenomena.

He conducted observations and studies on the volcanoes of southern Italy and, towards the end of the 1700s, published interesting treatises on the origin of eruptive rocks (Mémoire sur les tremblements de terre de la Calabre pendant l’année, 1783, 1784; Mémoire sur les volcans éteints du Val di Noto en Sicile, 1785). 

An advocate of revolutionary but anti-Jacobin ideas, he lived a dramatic life that led him to be pardoned on two separate occasions following death sentences and to emerge unscathed from the events of the French Revolution, thanks to his qualities as an attentive scientific researcher.

Dolomieu, Dolomia and Dolomite

Discovering the uniqueness of the Dolomite rock, Monsieur Dolomieu was born, being named after Dolomieu, a department in Isère. The name “Dolomites” thus hails from France!

As the son of a Savoy marquis with a predominantly war-based background, he ended up undertaking a military career. At a very young age, his father had him join the Order of Malta. Throughout his military career, leading to travels throughout Brittany, Italy and Egypt, Mr. Dolomieu continuously cultivated his scientific passion for chemistry, natural sciences and geology, resulting in him being recognised and appreciated over time as a leading scientist in the scientific world.

Before discovering the uniqueness of the Dolomite rock, Dolomieu’s geological field of study began with observing the processes of potassium nitrate formation in the mines in Brittany, before focusing on the description of many new minerals still rather unknown at the time, such as analcime, psilomelane, beryl, emerald, celestine and even anthracite. He travelled throughout Italy and spent almost two years in Egypt.

History of the Dolomites: a “physical” Revolution

It was in 1791, in the middle of the French Revolution that Dolomieu published an article in the “Journal de Physique” entitled “Sur un genre de pierres calcaires très peu effervescente avec les acides et phosphorescentes par la collision” (“On a type of calcareous rock that reacts very slightly with acid and that phosphoresces on being struck”). This article officially acknowledges the discovery of dolomite.

The name of the rock was given by Théodore-Nicolas De Saussure who in 1972, upon receiving samples for analysis, gave them the name “Dolomiti” in homage to the discoverer. Occurring in the midst of the most tumultuous years in the history of France, the discovery of Dolostone received no particular attention from the European culture, initially distracted by the revolutionary dynamics and then by events related to Napoleon in the years to come.

Discovering the heritage of the Dolomites

It would take 62 years before the “rock” become the name of the Alpine region of the Dolomites. The name appears for the first time thanks to two Englishmen, Josiah Gilbert and George Churchill, who published The Dolomite Mountains in London in 1864, a report of their journey. The spread of the name gradually took hold to the point that the toponym was adopted in the official cartography as of 1918.


When men and mountains meet,
great things happen.

(William Blake)

The Dolomites, a World Heritage Site

These incredible sedimentary rocks revolutionised the history of the Dolomites and its geology, thanks to the discovery of their uniqueness, being made of calcium and magnesium carbonate. These particular minerals allow that unique worldknown phenomenon of the “enrosadira” (alpenglow).

The official UNESCO recognition as World Heritage Site in 2009officially declared the invaluable significance of the Dolomites as a unique place in the world for its remarkable natural beauty and for its geomorphological and geological importance.

Be inspired!  Ask now your memorable holiday experience at Hotel Sassongher, in Corvara – in the heart of the Dolomites


Emotions in the Dolomites, a unique experience

Enrosadira, that incredible hue that appears at sunset on the Dolomites, is able to transform our emotions, to revive them and to bring to the surface all those feelings that have been lost in the mists of time.

The Dolomites thus appear to us as one of the most spectacular and “revolutionary” wonders of the earth, capable of awakening our imagination and restoring meaning to the love for life.
That’s why visiting can be an unforgettable experience, let you feel a revolution of the soul. 

Corvara, Alta Badia, in the heart of the Dolomites

The Hotel Sassongher 5* takes its name from Corvara’s mountain of reference, in Alta Badia, one of the most imposing Dolomite massifs throughout the entire arc of the Alps. The structure of the Hotel Sassongher is inspired by the strength and power of this beautiful dolomite profile. The same energy that you can feel during you holiday at the Hotel Sassongher.

Organize your holiday at Hotel Sassongher 5*, in Corvara – in the heart of the Dolomites – UNESCO Word Heritage. Amazing experiences.


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