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A Prometheus on a Human Scale – Ignacy Łukasiewicz

Piotr Franaszek, Paweł Grata, Kozicka-Kołaczkowska Anna, Mariusz Ruszel and Grzegorz Zamoyski

This book is dedicated to the life and work of Ignacy Łukasiewicz, Polish pharmacist whose world-renowned achievements include construction of the world’s first oil refinery and invention of the modern kerosene lamp. The authors also portray the history of the Galician oil industry and set it in the context of political, social and technological changes taking place in the 19th-century Central and Eastern Europe.

"The work adds substantially to existing scholarship in English. As the author of the only English-language academic monograph devoted to a general history of the Galician oil industry, I can attest that this manuscript adds significant and important information, details, depth of investigation that is not provided in my book or any other book. It therefore makes a novel contribution that will be very valuable to anyone looking for a truly detailed account of Ignacy Łukasiewicz’s contribution within the context of the Galician oil industry in general."

Alison Frank Johnson

Professor of History and of Germanic Languages and Literatures

Harvard University, Center for European Studies


"The authors sketch the profiles of two outstanding Poles, pioneers of the oil industry – Ignacy Łukasiewicz, MSc. in Pharmacy, and mining engineer and geologist Witold Zglenicki, called the Polish Nobel (...) This scientific work is an interesting and captivating read. It can be used not only by scientists and students, but also by everyone who is interested in industrial cultural heritage (...)."

Krzysztof Broński

Professor and Head of Department of Economic and Social History

Economic University in Kraków

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III. Underwater Oil Pioneer – Witold Zglenicki


III Underwater Oil Pioneer – Witold Zglenicki

The Heir, Witold Zglenicki. 2,400,000 dollars in gold. In the Mazovian manor house and Subcarpathian Bóbrka. In Warsaw and St. Petersburg. In the footsteps of Stanisław Staszic. Flights and falls. The Assayist of Riga. In Baku, where heaven and hell exist. The Assayist Engineer. Learning and working, not throwing a hat. The inventor. Desiderata – the key to the unnoticeable Aladdin’s cave. And yet they will make the sea sleep. 165 oil-producing fields, marine fields, platforms and breakwaters. Fields according to Zglenicki. The first maritime field, or when there are enough important matters on land. Technology, science and art. No happy ending. A legacy “for everlasting times”. Shafts in the Gulf of Ilyich Lenin. And the oil is still pouring.

“Son – the writing will pass, but you will remember, grandson (…)

That’s how he will read what you’re reading today,

But he will remember me… because I will not be here!”293

Cyprian Kamil Norwid (1821–1883)

The Heir, Witold Zglenicki

The great Polish poet Cyprian Kamil Norwid, misunderstood and undervalued during his lifetime, expressed in his prophetic, poetic intuition the fate of the works of geniuses, rather common in history, which also became the participation of Witold Zglenicki – the great heir to the mission and work of Ignacy Łukasiewicz, who saw oil as a source of modern industry and society’s prosperity. And even if Zglenicki did not...

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