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Lecture #4 in "The History of Magic for English Learners"

Ted Hand

on 16 August 2013

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Transcript of Alchemy

Maria the Prophetess - "bain marie" or alchemical bath heats metals evenly
Zosimos - Hermetic priest, texts include a "Vision"
Alchemy in Late Antiquity
*Translation of Greek Manuscripts into Arabic
*Khalid ibn Yazid (d.704)
*Emerald Tablet of Hermes
*Jabir Ibn Hayyan (d.815)
*Sulfur/Mercury school of matter theory
Alchemy in the Arabic World
Michael Maier's Atalanta Fugiens
Multimedia - fugues, images, poetry
Dense allegory -- not just about chemical operations but also about transmutation of the soul?
16th-17th Century: Emblems+Artisans
13th Century:
Geber - Translation/reworking of texts from Jabir ibn Hayyan's school
origins of corpuscular matter theory?
R.Bacon--artificial gold better than natural.
Power over nature?
Alchemy in Medieval Europe
Empiricism vs. Authority
"Let the patient be your book."
Weight and Measure:
"The dose makes the Poison"
Using Alchemy to make medicines.
Emphasis on separation
Added third principle "salt" to Jabir's Sulpher-Mercury theory of matter.
"Paracelsians" built on his "bold" legacy and invented a whole mythical figure.
Vitalism vs. Mechanism, "Archeus"
Local knowledge - German Cures
Alchemical Processes
Distillation (making purified alcohol)
Separation - "Solve et Coagula"
Calcination - reduction by burning
Ablution - purification by washing
Coloration - adding a dye or tincture
Exaltation - raising to more perfect state
Fulmination - preparation of explosive
Fixation - make a volatile substance solid
Fumigation - exposure to corrosive smoke
Further Reading
*Alchemy not considered science because it was "practical" knowledge.
*Alchemy was dangerous: fire, exposure to toxic chemicals, legal trouble, financial risk

Alchemical Lab
Lawrence Principe
The Secrets of Alchemy
William R. Newman
Promethean Ambitions
Bruce Moran
Distilling Knowledge
Art of Transmutation
Origins of Chemistry?
Really just Spiritual?
Full transcript