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The role of gold in alchemy. Part I

Abstract

Since ancient times and in every culture, gold has been valued for its beauty as well as for its unique physical and chemical properties. Hence it is not surprising that the pseudoscience of alchemy arose almost everywhere from earliest times in an attempt to convert base metals into the ‘king of metals.’. The idea of transmutation was based upon observation of the ubiquitous changes occurring in nature and the application of analogies and correspondences. Its primary theoretical basis lay in the various theories of matter which reduced the bewildering diversity of material substances to several fundamental ‘elements’. Among the most important of these theories were those of the Two Contraries and the Five Elements (the Chinese), the Four Elements (the Greeks), the Sulphur-Mercury Theory (the Arabs) and the Tria Prima (Paracelsus). This review traces the history of alchemy and the role of gold in it. Part I takes us to the time of Paracelsus and the opinions of Robert Boyle on the subject.

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Kauffman, G.B. The role of gold in alchemy. Part I. Gold Bull 18, 31–44 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03214684

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Keywords

  • Base Metal
  • Galena
  • Cinnabar
  • Great Work
  • Sacred Grove