Alchemy

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Definition

Alchemy is an ancient practice aimed at recreating precious substances using recipes and transformative materials such as the philosopher's stone. Alchemists believed that materials like gold, silver, gems, and purple dye could be recreated if the right combination of ingredients and transformative methods were found. Other avenues of exploration in later centuries were aimed at increasing the potency of medicines, finding an elixir that prolonged life, and even achieving the redemption of the soul.

More about: Alchemy

Timeline

  • c. 460 BCE - c. 370 BCE
    Life of the Greek philosopher Democritus, often credited as the founder of alchemy.
  • 1 CE - 800 CE
    Alchemy is particualrly prevalent in Roman Egypt.
  • c. 200 CE - 400 CE
    The oldest surviving Greek and Latin texts concerning alchemy.
  • 300 CE
    The Egyptian alchemist Zosimus of Panopolis is active.
  • c. 1150 CE
    Knowledge of alchemy from the Muslim world filters through to Europe.
  • 1493 CE - 1541 CE
    Life of the Germanic alchemist who called himself Paracelsus.
  • 1561 CE
    The Italian alchemist Isabella Cortese publishes The Secrets of Lady Isabella Cortese.
  • 1720 CE
    Alchemy is by now widely discredited by scientists and has been replaced by chemistry.
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