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Alchemical apparatus from BL Sloane 1091, f. 161v

Alchemical apparatus from BL Sloane 1091, f. 161v

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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.

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.

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British Library
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