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Course, academic year 2012/2013
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History of alchemy and chemistry - MC260P41C
Title: Dějiny alchymie a chemie
Guaranteed by: Department of Physical and Macromolecular Chemistry (31-260)
Faculty: Faculty of Science
Actual: from 2011 to 2013
Semester: winter
E-Credits: 2
Examination process: winter s.:
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:2/0, C [HT]
Capacity: unlimited
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: taught
Language: Czech
Is provided by: MC260P41K
Additional information:
Note: enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: prof. RNDr. Vladimír Karpenko, CSc.
Teacher(s): prof. RNDr. Vladimír Karpenko, CSc.
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Annotation -
Last update: ZUSKOVA (27.01.2003)
History of Alchemy and Chemistry

Ancient crafts with chemical and/or metallurgical basis. Development of alchemy from ancient times in China, India, and Hellenistic world. Alchemy in Arabic world follows and various aspects of alchemy in Latin Europe. Simultaneously development of crafts is compared with alchemical approaches.
Literature - Czech
Last update: ZUSKOVA (27.01.2003)

Gebelein, H.: Alchymie. Magie hmoty, Volvox Globator, Praha 1998.

Vágner, P.: Theatrum chemicum, Paseka, Praha 1995.

Karpenko, V.: Alchymie - dcera omylu, Práce, Praha 1988.

Zýka, J., Karpenko, V.: Prvky očima minulosti, Práce, Praha 1984.

Eliade, M.: Kováři a alchymisté, Argo, Praha 2000.

Salzberg, H. W.: From Caveman to Chemist, Amer. Chem. Soc., Washington, D.C. 1991.

Holmyard, E. J.: Alchemy, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1957, 1968.

Leicester, H. M.: The Historical Background of Chemistry, J. Wiley, New York 1956.

Sherwood Taylor, F.: The Alchemists, Paladin Press, Frogmore 1976.

Read, J.: Prelude to Chemistry, G. Bell, London 1961.

Syllabus -
Last update: ZUSKOVA (27.01.2003)

Interpretation of historical sources. Some ancient crafts: salt production; paints on pottery; cinnabar, indigo, Tyrian purple, Egyptian blue; cosmetics. Wine and beer. Discovery of paper. Embalming in Egypt, history of the term neter. Sumerian terminology.

Myth as the oldest picture of nature, goddess Mother-Earth. Planetary gods. Precious metals and analysis of their purity. Iron and steel metallurgy. Further ancient metals.

Ancient China. Taoism and Confucianism. Five elements, yin and yang. Magic square Lo shu, eight trigrams. Book I Ching. Overview of the history of Chinese alchemy. Ko Hung's encyclopedia. Protochemistry. Late Chinese esotericism. Discovery of black gunpowder.

Ancient and mediaeval India. Vedas, Upanishads. Problem of dating Indian sources. Basic ideas of Indian alchemy, attempt of classification of substances. Tantrism. Mercury as a crucial metal. Practice of Indian alchemy, recipes.

Hellenistic world. Greek natural philosophy, Aristotle, four elements. Ancient Egyptian crafts, papyri Leyden X and Stockholm. Pseudodemokritos. Gnosis and alchemy, ouroboros symbolism. Some Hellenistic alchemists: Mary the Jewess, Zosimos from Panopolis. Laboratory instruments. Classification of substances. Color symbolism. Planets and metals.

Arabic alchemy. An-Nadim's catalogue. Jabir and his school, sulfur-mercury theory. Numerical mysticism in Arabic alchemy and philosophy. Ar-Razi's system of substances. Emerald Table. Ibn Sina. Tracts of Brethren of Purity, origin of metals. Late Arabic authors.

Europe. Mediaeval crafts: Theophilus, Mappae clavicula. History of the discovery of alcohol. Origin of alchemy in Latin Europe, translators, compilers. Albertus Magnus. Peak of alchemy: Arnald from Villanova, Ramon Lull and Pseudolully. Pseudogeber, discoveries of mineral acids. Alchemy and church. Papal decree against alchemists.

European renaissance. General features, development of astronomy and medicine, M. Copernicus, A. Vesalius. Mining and metallurgy: G. Agricola, L. Ercker, V. Biringuccio. Flourish of alchemy in renaissance. Paracelsus, theory tria prima, iatrochemistry; homunculus, Jewish kabbalah. Mysticism: Agrippa from Nettesheim, numerical magic squares.

Alchemy in Bohemia. Johannes Ticinensis, Johann from Laz, Hynek from Poděbrad. Rudolfian era, Bavor the Younger Rodovský, E. Kelley, J. Dee and their works. M. Sendivogius, problem of discovery of oxygen. Mysticians of the 17th century: M. Maier, D. Stolcius; symbolism of renaissance alchemy.

R. Boyle and I. Newton as alchemists. Discovery of phosphorus. J. Becher and the roots of phlogiston theory. Summary of European alchemy. Chemical and/or metallurgical methods of alleged transmutation of metals. Reflection of chemical reactions in the systems of metals. History of the reaction between iron and cupric ions in solution and its influence on alchemy.

Transition between alchemy and chemistry. Pneumatic chemistry, van Helmont, A.-L. Lavoisier, life and work. Summary of the development of terminolgy and symbolism of alchemy and chemistry. First discoveries of elements.

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