From alchemy to chemistry
Alchemy is a branch of knowledge that developed in western civilizations and in eastern ones such as India and China. Western alchemy was born in Alexandria of Egypt in the Hellenistic age as a technique for working and refining metals and imitating precious stones. It later became an elaborate corpus of practical methods and mystical and philosophical concepts.
Alchemy as a science arose and flourished in the Byzantine, Islamic, and Roman civilizations, reaching its apogee in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries with Roger Bacon, Arnold of Villanova, Jean de Roquetaillade (Rupescissa), and the presumably spurious writings of Ramon Lully.
In the Renaissance, alchemy took on a strongly symbolic character. It gradually became a rigid, ritualized body of knowledge, exerting a widespread influence until the early eighteenth century. Thanks to Paracelsus, alchemy shifted its focus toward the preparation of medicines, stimulating a new form of medical chemistry, also known as iatrochemistry. Alchemy continued on its path throughout the modern age, while chemistry progressively broke away to become a separate science.
Last update 18/feb/2008