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Alchemy

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.
Alchemist
167 Media in collectionpage 1 of 2

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.

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

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

Die Sechste gliechnis

The sixth allegory, showing a man holding a sword and decapitated head standing by dismembered body signifying alchemical purification through separation.

Hic est draco caudum suam devorans

Dragon or ouroboros devouring itself by the tail, and text of epigram in alchemical emblem 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

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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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