The History of Alchemy Essay


Alchemy is an ancient practice that Egyptians and Babylonians attempted for centuries. Still, it was not until Greek philosophers began to experiment with this technique that we had a fundamental understanding of alchemy. The Greeks believed that all matter in the universe consisted of four essential elements: earth, water, air, and fire. As you might have guessed from their name, these were earthy substances such as minerals, liquids like water or mercury, gasses like oxygen or sulfur dioxide, and finally, things on fire such as iron ore or coal. They concluded that changing one type of element into another – say water into gas – could change anything else in existence into those same types.

Alchemy is an ancient photo scientific practice and philosophical tradition that transmutes an element into another, commonly defined as the art of transformation. Thus, alchemy can be regarded as both science and philosophy. In essence, alchemy is considered the mother of chemistry. Generally, alchemy is part of historical science, which is involved with human involvement with nature to harness nature’s power for human needs and wants. Alchemists revolved around the idea that characters had secrets.That Alchemists could reveal through experimentations and laboratory tastings, and examination.

For the most part, alchemists were limited in knowledge regarding the properties and nature of the elements. However, the works of ancient alchemists laid the foundation of contemporary laboratory techniques and advanced significant findings into many secrets of the heart with regards to finding cures for multiple ailments. This ancient practice was practiced across Egypt, Europe, and Asia. Scientifically, alchemy is primarily about elements and how one piece can be transformed into another. While ancient alchemist processes were thought to be magic, the reality is that, unlike magic, alchemy can be explained through science and reasoning. Probably, in seeking nature’s secrets, ancient alchemists were searching for a connection with supernatural beings.

Similarly, a great deal of astrological work was at play in alchemy works. With this regard, alchemy was mainly considered magic and later alchemists as sorcerers in the witch hunt era. The primary purpose of scientific alchemy was to transform base metals into gold, though other variations appeared in subsequent years.  Alchemy also involves the development of immortality elixir, the development of panacea that can cure any disease, and the creation of alkahest that is a universal solvent. Alchemy covers several traditions, though symbolic language and cryptic penchants make it extremely difficult to trace their mutual influences and relationship. In this light, it is possible to differentiate at least three significant dimensions of alchemy which were largely independent in the initial stages. These include; the Chinese alchemy that mainly revolved around china and Chinese cultural influences; Western alchemy that occurred around the Mediterranean and has shifted in years from the Islamic world, Medieval Europe, and Greco-Roman Egypt.

Nonetheless, alchemy first originated in Egypt. In ancient Egypt, Alchemy was closely linked with the fertility of the River Nile. Probably in the 4th century, alchemy was deployed in mummification procedures. After Christians invaded Egypt much of alchemy were lost though, Greek assimilated alchemy in their practices including medicine. Alchemy appeared in Europe around the 8th century, when Muslims transmitted the knowledge on alchemical to Spain. While Europeans, Egyptians, and Muslims were interested in alchemy because of the elixir of life, the main focus was utilizing alchemy to creating gold from diverse substances. Hence, the pursuit of transforming other metals into gold was the pursuit of transmutation and perfection of the human spirit. One famous Islamic alchemist was Jabir ibn Hayyan who envisioned alchemy in creating a human being in the laboratory.

He extracted anesthetic elements from herbs and also introduced the rudimentary features we know today in chemistry. In China, alchemy was closely linked to yang, yin, and Taoism philosophy and beliefs. Chinese alchemy aimed to discover the elixir of life in the early years of practice and not transform metals into gold. However, in years to follow, transmutation of other metals to gold was picked. Apart from medicine, Chinese alchemists incorporated exercise techniques to enhance one’s life, the alchemical practice of yoga that was probably shared in India. One contribution that stood out from Chinese alchemists was gun powder or black powder that revolutionized warfare. This was an alchemical invention, yet the initial aim was medicine and not war.

In conclusion, Alchemy has been practiced for centuries, but what exactly is it? It’s a process of turning something ordinary into something valuable. This article looked at the history and science behind this ancient practice to better understand how we can apply its principles in our own lives today.