Learn About Alchemy
Alchemy evolved as a science separately in Ancient Egypt, China and India. Arabs brought the practice to Europe during the 8th century. Although most people are only aware of alchemists’ efforts to turn base metals into gold, the ancient discipline is multi-faceted and includes philosophical and spiritual aspects. Other well-known interests of the Alchemists were the creation of an “elixir of life” and a universal solvent.
While many of alchemy’s more fanciful goals were never realized, it is due to its practioners that gunpowder was invented, as well as other chemical processes, such as ore testing and refining, metalworking, leather tanning, and the production of ink, dyes and paints.
There are many texts devoted to alchemy. A major one is the Mutus Liber. The late 17th-century French book was “wordless,” containing only symbols that claimed to be a guide to making the Philosopher’s Stone. The Philosopher’s Stone was thought to magnify the alchemist’s knowledge and was necessary to transforming metals, creating the elixir of life and making a universal solvent.
Eventually, practioners of alchemy split into two groups, those who focused on discovering new compounds and their reactions and those who concentrated on the search for immortality. Before this split in the 16th century, alchemy was considered a serious science in Europe and included Sir Isaac Newton among its practioners.
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Gold was first discovered thousands of years ago in its natural state, in streams, which lead to mining all over the world. Its brilliance, natural beauty, great malleability and resistance to tarnish made it enjoyable to work with. Gold gave rise to the concept of money itself. Today gold is used for jewelry fabrication, industrial application, and medical uses, by governments and central banks and by private investors.
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