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Alchemy

A medieval chemical philosophy Created by: PICRYLDated: 2017
Alchemist
A medieval philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the panacea, and the preparation of the elixir of longevity. It was practiced in most of the ancient world, from China and India to Greece. Alchemy migrated to Egypt and was later revived in 12th-century Europe through translations of Arabic texts into Latin.
Medieval European alchemists made some useful discoveries, including mineral acids and alcohol. The revival led to the development of pharmacology and to the rise of modern chemistry. The gold-making processes of alchemists were finally discredited, but not until the 19th century.
1135
1135
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2016
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2016
167 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2
Alchemist
Humours and elements from BL Harley 2660, f. 37

Humours and elements from BL Harley 2660, f. 37

Detail of a circular diagram relating to the humours and the elements. Image taken from f. 37 of Etymologiae, and De natura rerum (ff. 33-48v), with letters between Isidore and Braulio (ff. 1v-3). Written in Latin.

Humours and elements from BL Harley 2660, f. 37

Humours and elements from BL Harley 2660, f. 37

Detail of a circular diagram relating to the humours and the elements. Image taken from f. 37 of Etymologiae, and De natura rerum (ff. 33-48v), with letters between Isidore and Braulio (ff. 1v-3). Written in Latin.

Alchemical recipe from BL Harley 171, f. 1

Alchemical recipe from BL Harley 171, f. 1

Alchemical recipe, added in the ? 15th century. Image taken from f. 1 of Apocalypse (in Wycliffe translation), with commentary. Written in English.

[Title page with illustration showing the tree of knowledge]

[Title page with illustration showing the tree of knowledge]

Title devised by Library staff. Illus. in: Arbor scientiæ venerabilis et cælitvs illuminati patris Raymvndi Lvllii Maioricensis .... [Lugduni] : 1515. Published in: The tradition of technology : Landmarks of We... more

[Interior of a metallurgist's workshop with furnace and implements of his trade; on the hood over the furnace is a portrait of an unidentified man]

[Interior of a metallurgist's workshop with furnace and implements of ...

Title devised by Library staff. Illus. in: Voarchadvmia contra alchi'miam: ars distincta ab archimi'a, & sophia: cum additionibus: proportionibus: numeris: & figuris opportunis. Venetiis : 1530. Published in: T... more

[Symbolic picture in alchemical text showing crowned man standing on sun and crowned woman standing on moon joining flowers with descending dove, which represents marriage and the union of two substances]

[Symbolic picture in alchemical text showing crowned man standing on s...

Illus. and text in: Artis auriferae. Basileae : Excudebat C. Waldkirch : Expensis C. de Marne, & I. Aubry, 1593. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress... more

Die Sechste gliechnis

Die Sechste gliechnis

The sixth allegory, showing a man holding a sword and decapitated head standing by dismembered body signifying alchemical purification through separation. Illus. and text in: Aureum vellus / Salomon trismosin. ... more

[Roger bacon conducting an experiment]

[Roger bacon conducting an experiment]

Title devised by Library staff. Illus. in: Symbola avreæ mensæ dvodecim nationvm. Francofvrti : typis A. Hummij, impensis Lucæ Iennis, 1617. Published in: The tradition of technology : Landmarks of Western tech... more

Hic est draco caudum suam devorans

Hic est draco caudum suam devorans

Dragon or ouroboros devouring itself by the tail, and text of epigram in alchemical emblem book. Illus. and text in: Atalanta fugiens / Michael Maier. Oppenheimii : Es typographia H. Galleri, sumptibus J.T. de ... more

[Alchemist and assistant in laboratory, with surrounding border of birds, flowers, and insects]

[Alchemist and assistant in laboratory, with surrounding border of bir...

Chapter frontispiece in: Theatrum chemicum britannicum / Elias Ashmole. London : Printed by F. Grismund for N. Brooke, 1652. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library... more

[Alchemical scene showing two putti holding philosopher's stone containing image of Hermes, below which are a man and a woman kneeling before furnace where transmutation is to take place]
[Lion-headed serpent devouring its eagle-headed tail entwined about faces representing an alchemical combination of mercury and sulfer, an emblem of the unity of all matter]

[Lion-headed serpent devouring its eagle-headed tail entwined about fa...

Illus. and text in: Deutsches theatrum chemicum / Friedrich Roth-Scholtz. 3 vols. Nurnberg : Bey A.J. Felsseckern, 1728-1732. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Librar... more

Alchemist
Alchemist
Alchemical apparatus from BL Sloane 1091, f. 161v

Alchemical apparatus from BL Sloane 1091, f. 161v

Diagram of alchemical apparatus. Image taken from f. 161v of Miscellany, including the Rosarius minor (ff. 125-132); a version of De leone viridi (ff. 102-104). Written in English; Latin.

Alchemist
Alchemist
Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Alchemy diagram. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy diagram. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

World realms according to alchemy. Illustration from Alchemy Book

World realms according to alchemy. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Magical vehicle. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Magical vehicle. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Fire. Earth. Water. Air. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Fire. Earth. Water. Air. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Alchemical reactor. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemical reactor. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Sublimator. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Sublimator. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Furnace. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Furnace. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Reactors. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Reactors. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Distillation process. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Distillation process. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Furnace with distillators. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Furnace with distillators. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

FORMA FVRNI. Illustration from Alchemy Book

FORMA FVRNI. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Philosophical stone. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Philosophical stone. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Dragon and corpse. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Dragon and corpse. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Abulanarratur, Phoebus, Vulcanus and Hermes. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Abulanarratur, Phoebus, Vulcanus and Hermes. Illustration from Alchemy...

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Medicine. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Medicine. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Wolf of the East vs. Dog of the West fight. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Wolf of the East vs. Dog of the West fight. Illustration from Alchemy ...

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Jupiter. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Jupiter. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Sun, Earth and the Moon. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Sun, Earth and the Moon. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Resurrection process. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Resurrection process. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Vultur. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Vultur. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Scientific method. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Scientific method. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Adonis. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Adonis. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Hermafroditus. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Hermafroditus. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Leo. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Leo. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Death of hermaphrodit. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Death of hermaphrodit. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Rex in mari. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Rex in mari. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Sun and the Moon. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Sun and the Moon. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Salamandra. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Salamandra. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Health Heat. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Health Heat. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Secrets of Nature. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Secrets of Nature. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Dragon, Sun and the Moon. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Dragon, Sun and the Moon. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Birth of Venus. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Birth of Venus. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Diagram. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Diagram. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Fire vs. Gold. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Fire vs. Gold. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Emblema. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Emblema. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Emblema. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Emblema. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Emblema IV. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Emblema IV. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Nutrix ejis terra est. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Nutrix ejis terra est. Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Illustration from Alchemy Book

Alchemy was "chemistry" before the periodic table. It was believed that combining the four basic properties (earth, fire, air, and water) in certain ratios could produce iron, gold, booze, and even life itself.... more