What kind of chemistry is alchemy


The term alchemy is defined and used differently. In this context, alchemy is one of the historical forerunners of modern chemistry.

In general, alchemy - probably derived from the Arabic term al-Kimiya - is a historically old branch of natural philosophy with philosophical and protoscientific questions and practices that was widespread throughout Europe, Africa and Asia and its origin in Greco-Roman Egypt in the first centuries to look for.

In a chemical sense, the alchemists - as the first chemists, so to speak - tried to purify, mature and perfect certain materials. The goals were chrysopoeia (Greek for gold making) and in general the conversion (transmutation) of base metals (such as lead) into precious metals - especially gold, as well as the creation of an elixir of immortality, the creation of panaceas against every conceivable disease and finally the Preparation of the universal solvent Alkahest.

In the English-speaking world, the term is often limited to descriptions of European alchemy - but there were similar practices in the Far East, on the Indian subcontinent and, above all, in the Muslim world. In Europe after the 12th century, alchemical research was often based on the translation and implementation of medieval Islamic scriptures.

For the early modern sciences, the alchemists played an important role, especially for chemistry and medicine.They developed a collection of basic laboratory techniques and theories, a new terminology and experimental methods, some of which are still used today - in their original form, but also as further developments. However, they continued the ancient belief in the four elements (fire, water, earth, air) and kept their work secret and developed secret languages ​​and cryptic symbols for this purpose, which are still present in fragments in chemical formulas today. And the work of the alchemists was based on hermetic principles related to magic, mythology and religion.

Since the 18th century, magical and esotoric aspects and practices have increasingly been added to alchemy, which in fact dilutes the view of the original protoscientific approaches. In the popular sense, this means that alchemical work is very much associated with magic. It should therefore be kept in mind when dealing with this subject that medieval and early modern alchemy encompassed a much more diverse set of ideas, goals, techniques, and practices.

In this day and age, alchemy is not only a subject of the history of chemistry - some are still in search of the philosopher's stone ...

The following directory lists some available sources of information on alchemy as well as on alchemical texts and illustrations available online.

General information and basics

Overview article with glossary - Format: PDF

Arguably the most common opinion of most people today is that the alchemists were fools who desperately wanted to make gold out of anything and everything. In this presentation, the ideas and achievements of this rather frowned upon group should be presented and convey a different picture of them .... University of Bayreuth

A brief history of alchemy. Ariella Beatrice von Rabenhorst - Format: PDF

Private, extensive script format: PDF

Article on various aspects of alchemy in English -

A Brief History of Alchemy - Format: PDF

Alchemy - Definition

16th century alchemy
Review article. GTFCH - Format: PDF

Alchemy laboratory
... is dedicated to personal and global transformation using the ancient principles of alchemy -

Alchemy Museum
in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic -

Alchemy pictures
with hotspots; Collection of various online images

Alchemical texts
Online collection in English; Texts also in German, English .... Levity - [Engl.]

Alchemical symbols
for different substances

Aurum potabile
Historical text in English translation. Levity -

Battery of Baghdad
Articles, pictures about the light bulbs from Dendera (Parthian battery)

Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica
J. R. Ritman Library for Hermetic Philosophy in Amsterdam -

Chymic wedding
Chymic wedding of Christiani Rosencreutz in 1459

Colored alchemical emblems
Larger collection; Online illustrations. Levity -

Corpus Stavish
The Writings of Mark Stavish; Text collection -

The book of alechemistry
Various texts in eBook format - Format: PDF

Database of Alchemical Manuscripts
List with 4000 texts from different libraries. Levity -

The golden path of transformation
The great work of alchemy. Article format: PDF

The Alchemy Web Site and Virtual Library
Over 90 megabytes of online information on alchemy with all its pages. Levity -

Alchemy and its great masterpiece, the Philosopher's Stone
Text by Max Retschlag 1934. Levity - [engl.]

The seven Hermetic Principles
Theories of alchemy

The seven Hermetic Principles
Overview of the theories of alchemy

The Twelve Keys of Basil Valentinus
Thus our ancestors opened the doors to the clock-old stone, and the inexplicable fountain of all health was invented. Online text. Levity -

A brief history of alchemy
Ariella Beatrice von Rabenhorst. Given to Kranichfeld in the year 1002 - Format: PDF

History of electricity and electrochemistry. Ulm University

Francis Bacon - The making of gold
From: Sylva Sylvarum. Historical online text. Levity -

Secret symbols of the Rosicrucians
Secret figures of the Rosicrucians, from the 16th and 17th centuries. Levity -

History of alchemy
Review article - Format: PDF

Stories of alchemical transmutations
Text collection in English. Levity -

Joannes Agricola - Treatise on Gold
Commentaries, notes, and observations regarding, the chymicak medicine of Johannes Poppius. Historical online text. Levity -

Othmer MS 2 Alchemical miscellany
Various alchemical texts, also in other languages ​​- [Eng.]

Sendivogius - The new chemical light
A Treatise Concerning Sulfur. Historical online text. Levity -

Tabula Smaragdina Hermetis
Commentaries on the Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians of the 16th and 17th Centuries. Text, illustration -

The alchemical process of transformation - Format: PDF

From the alchemical symbol to the element "symbol" of modern chemistry
A contribution to understanding chemical sign language - Format: PDF

Lecture notes and lecture materials

Lecture notes Inorganic Chemistry. University of Baytruth

Journals, specialist journals

Alchemy Journal
... is a free email magazine devoted to the ancient art of transformation -

The Journal of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry -

International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry -


Updated on 19.02.2020.

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