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 Technical Arts Related To Alchemy in Old Egypt

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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: Technical Arts Related To Alchemy in Old Egypt   Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:34 pm

Part 1:

One of the oldest civilizations all over the world was that of ancient Egypt, which emerges from pre-history into the period of more or less precise chronological record at a date perhaps not far removed from 3400 B.C. This highly developed civilization endured for over 3,000 years, during which it spread its influence far and wide; some archaeologists, indeed, claim to see in all other civilizations the signs of an Egyptian origin. However this may be, it is universally agreed that in technical arts Egyptian workers pointed the way to the rest of the world, and it is to them that we must turn for the first discovery of those facts that make chemistry possible.
Of course, our knowledge of the very earliest developments of chemical arts is dependent upon the discovery of products as far as some 3000 years B.C. tin bronzes were made.
Primitive arts that provide data of a chemical nature are those of the metallurgist, the glass-maker, the dyer and the like, many of which reached an astonishingly high level of perfection in ancient Egypt.


Metallurgy in particular was carried on with an elaborate technique and a business organization not unworthy of the modern world, while the systematic exploitation of mines was an important industry employing many thousands of workers. Even as early as 3400 B.C., at the beginning of the historical period, the Egyptians had an intimate knowledge of copper ores and of processes of extracting the metal. During the fourth and subsequent dynasties (i.e. from about 2900 B.C. onwards), metals seem to have been entirely monopolies of the Court, the management of the mines and quarries being entrusted to the highest officials and sometimes even to the sons of the Pharaoh. Whether these exalted personages were themselves professional metallurgists we do not know, but we may at least surmise that the details of metallurgical practice, being of extreme importance to the Crown, were carefully guarded from the vulgar. And when we remember the close association between the Egyptian royal family and the priestly class we appreciate the probable truth of the tradition that chemistry first saw the light in the laboratories of Egyptian priests.

Copper and Iron Extraction.

In addition to copper, which was mined in the eastern desert between the Nile and the Red Sea, iron was known in Egypt from a very early period and came into general use about 800 B.C. According to Lucas, iron appears to have been an Asiatic discovery. It was certainly known in Asia Minor about I300 B.C., for one of the Kings of the Hittites sent Rameses II, the celebrated Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty, an iron sword and a promise of a shipment of the same metal . The Egyptians called iron 'the metal of heaven' or ba-en-pet, which indicates that the first specimens employed were of meteoric origin, the Babylonian name has the same meaning. It was no doubt on account of its rarity that iron was prized so highly by the early Egyptians, while its celestial source would have its fascination. Strange to say, it was not used for decorative, religious or symbolical purposes, which - coupled with the fact that it rusts so readily - may explain why comparatively few iron objects of early dynastic age have been discovered. One which fortunately has survived presents several points of interest: it is an iron tool from the masonry of the great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza, and thus presumably dates from the time when the Pyramid was being built, i.e. about 2900 B.C. This tool was subjected to chemical analysis and was found to contain combined carbon, which suggests that it may have been composed of steel. By 666 B.C. the process of case-hardening was in use for the edges of iron tools, but the story that the Egyptians had some secret means of hardening copper and bronze that has since I been lost is probably without foundation. Desch has shown that a hammered bronze, containing 10.34 per cent. of tin, is considerably harder than copper and keeps a cutting edge much better.
Of the other non-precious metals, tin was used in the manufacture of bronze, and cobalt has been detected as a coloring agent in certain specimens of glass and glaze. Neither metal occurs naturally in Egypt, and it seems probable that supplies of ore were imported from Persia. Lead, though it never found extensive application, was among the earliest metals known, specimens having been found in graves of pre-dynastic times.
Galena (PbS) was mined in Egypt at Gebel Rasas ('Mountain of Lead'), a few miles from the Red Sea coast; and the supply must have been fairly good, for when the district was re-worked from 19I2 to 1915 it produced more than I8,000 tons of ore.
The vast quantities of gold amassed by the Pharaohs were the envy of contemporary and later sovereigns. Though much was imported, received by way of tribute, or captured in warfare, the Egyptian mines themselves were reasonably productive.
Over one hundred ancient gold workings have been discovered in Egypt and the Sudan, though within the limits of Egypt proper there appear to have been gold mines only in the desert valleys to the east of the Nile near Ikoptos, Ombos and Apollinopolis Magna. Of one of these mines - possibly near Apollinopolis - a plan has been found in a papyrus of the fourteenth century B.C., and the remains of no fewer than 1,300 houses for gold-miners are still to be seen in the Wadi Fawakhir, half-way between Koptos and the Red Sea. In one of the treasure chambers of the temple of Rameses III, at Medinet-Habu, are represented eight large bags, seven of which contained gold.
The Egyptian word for gold is nub, which survives in the name Nubia, a country that provided a great deal of the precious metal in ancient days. French Scientist Champollion regarded it as a kind of crucible, while Rossellini and Lepsius preferred to see in it a bag or cloth, with hanging ends, in which the grains of gold were washed - the radiating lines representing the streams of water that ran through. Crivelli has more recently advanced the theory that the gold symbol is the conventional sign for a portable furnace used for the fusion of gold, and that the rays represent the flames, which, 'as can be observed in the use of this type of furnace, are unable to ascend because the wind inclines them horizontally'. In the later dynasties, the Egyptians themselves forgot the original signification of the sign and drew it as a necklace with pendent beads, though Elliot Smith says that this was the primitive form and became the determinative of Hathor, the Egyptian Aphro dite, who was the guardian of the Eastern valleys where gold was found.
The gold mines in Nubia and other parts of the Egyptian empire seem to have been very efficiently designed and controlled, though with a callous disregard for the human element employed.
Alluvial auriferous sand was also treated, a distinction being made between the gold obtained in this way and that extracted from the mines. The latter was called nub-en-set, i.e. 'gold of the mountain', while alluvial gold was named nub-en-mu, i.e. 'gold of the river'. Auriferous sand was placed in a bag made of a fleece with the woolly side inwards; water was then added and the bag vigorously shaken by two men. When the water was poured off, the earthy particles were carried away, leaving the heavier particles of gold adhering to the fleece. There is a picture of this operation on one of the buildings at Thebes.


Mercury (Greek-hydrargyros, liquid silver; latin-argentum vivum, live or quick silver) is stated to have been found in Egyptian tombs of from 1500-1600 B.C.

Metal and Mysticism.

In the early centuries of our era, however, there gradually developed a mysticism among chemical writers due to Egyptian and Chaldean religious magical ideas, and there developed a fanciful relation of the metals as such to the sun and the planets, and as a consequence there arose the believe that it was necessary to confine the number of metals to seven.
Thus Olympidorous-in the 6th century of our era gives the following relation:

Gold.....................the Sun
Silver...................the Moon

Metallurgy was by no means the only art practiced with conspicuous success by the ancient Egyptian craftsmen. Glass was almost certainly the invention, not of the Phoenicians, but of the Egyptians, and was produced on a large scale from a very early date.
Art of Glass Making

This art is of very ancient origin with the Egyptians, as is evident from the glass jars, figures and ornaments discovered in the tombs. The paintings on the tombs have been interpreted as descriptive of the process of glass blowing. These illustrations representing smiths blowing their fires by means of reeds tipped with clay. So can conclude that glass-blowing is apparently of Egyptian origin, at the beginning of our era.
The remains of glass furnaces discovered by Flinders-Petrie at Tel-El-Amarna (1400 B.C.) illustrate the manufacture of rods, beads, and jars or other figures, formed apparently by covering clay cores with glass and later removing the cores.
Egyptian glass articles were of colored glass, often beautifully patterned.
From analyses of ancient Egyptian glass articles, it show that generally the glass was a soda-lime glass with rather soda content as compared with modern soda-lime glass. The given analyses do not differ from those of some soda-lime glasses of modern times. Lead was used in glasses from very ancient times. French scientist analyzed a vase of the Fourth dynasty in Egypt which contained about one quarter lead.
Artificial pearls, made of glass, were manufactured in such numbers that they formed an important article of export trade, and the old legends of enormous emeralds and other precious stones are most reasonably explained on the assumption that the preparation of paste jewelry was widely undertaken.
The earliest glass-works of which the remains have been found date from the eighteenth dynasty, and the oldest dated glass object is a large ball bead bearing the cartouche of Amen-Hotep I, now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. The invention of glass-blowing, as opposed to the older method of glass-molding, is comparatively recent, dating back only to about the beginning of the Christian Era. Sir Flinders Petrie has shown that the relieves at Beni-Hassan, which were formerly supposed to represent glass-blowers are more probably to be interpreted as metal-workers blowing a fire.

Textile and Dyeing Materials.

The begining of the art of weaving and the art of dyeing are lost in antiquity. Mummy cloths of varying degrees of fitness, still evidencing the dyer's skill, are preserved in many museums.
The invention of royal purple was perhaps as early as 1600 B.C. From the painted walls of tombs, temples and other structures which have been protected from exposure to weather, and from the decorated surfaces of pottery, chemical analysis often is able to give us knowledge of the materials used for such purposes.
Thus, the pigments from the tomb of Perneb (at estimated 2650 B.C.) which was presented to Metropolitan Museum of New York City in 1913, were examined by Maximilian Toch. He found that the red pigment proved to be iron oxide, haematite; a yellow consisted of clay containing iron or yellow ochre; a blue color was a finely powdered glass; and a pale blue was a copper carbonate, probably azurite; green were malachite; black was charcoal or boneblack; gray, a limestone mixed with charcoal; and a quantity of pigment remaining in a paint pot used in the decoration, contained a mixture of haematite with limestone and clay. So many analyses results made by known scientists all serve to illustrate the character of the evidence furnished by chemical analysis of surviving samples of the products of early chemical industries.


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PostSubject: Re: Technical Arts Related To Alchemy in Old Egypt   Tue Sep 18, 2007 8:52 am

Part 2:

Earliest Chemical Manuscripts of the Chemical Arts In Egypt
In spite of Egypt is generally recognized as the mother of the chemical and alchemical arts, but unfortunately her monuments and literature have left little of the early records which explain these arts.
Some of these ideas have been transmitted to us through Greek and Roman sources but the character of these sources do not enable us to discriminate between the matter derived from Egypt and the confused interpretation or additions of the early Greek alchemists.

The stories told us that about 290 A.D. the Emperor Diocletian passed a decree compelling the destruction of the works upon alchemical arts and on gold and silver throughout the empire, so that it should not be the makers of gold and silver to amass riches which might enable them to organize revolts against the empire. This decree resulted in the disappearance of a mass of literature which doubtless would have furnished us with much of interest in the early history of chemical arts and ideas.

Discovery of earliest chemical manuscripts
Leyden Papyrus
However, fortunately there have been saved to our times two important Egyptian works on chemical processes; the earliest original sources on such subjects discovered at Thebes (South Egypt), and both formed part of a collection of Egyptian papyrus manuscripts written in Greek and collected in the early years of the nineteenth by Johann d'Anastasy, vice consul of Sweden at Alexandria.
The main part of this collection was sold in 1828 by the collector to the Netherlands government and was deposited in the University of Leyden. In 1885, C. Leemans completed the publication of a critical edition of the texts with Latin translation of a number of these manuscripts, and among these was one of the two works above mentioned.
It is known as the Papyrus X of Leyden.
The French chemist Marcelin Berthelot who was interested in the history of early chemistry, subjected this Papyrus to critical analysis and published a translation of his results into French with extensive notes and commentaries
On the basis of philological and paleography evidence, he concluded its date is about the end of the third century A. D. It is, however, manifestly a copy of a work previously written, as slight errors evidently due to a copyist, are found. That the original is later than the first century A. D. is certain, as there are included in it extracts from the Materia Medica of Dioscorides. The work is a collection of chemical recipes and directions for :

1. Making metallic alloys,
2. Imitations of gold, silver or electrum,
3. Dyeing and other related arts.

In 1913 at Upsala, Otto Lagercrantz published the Greek text with critical commentary and with translation into German of a similar Egyptian papyrus, the " Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis." This work like the Leyden manuscript is a collection of recipes for alloys, metal working, dyeing, imitations of precious stones and similar arts. Investigation developed that this manuscript also came from the Swedish vice consul at Alexandria, d'Anastasy, presented by him to the Swedish Academy of Antiquities of Stockholm. Here it slumbered apparently unnoticed until 1906 when it was transferred to the Victoria Museum at Upsala.
Examination and comparison with the Leyden Papyrus made it evident that the new papyrus was not only identical, but in all probability was in part at least written by the same hand.
Both papyri were in remarkably well preserved condition. Both gave internal evidence of having been copied from other originals. Berthelot has suggested that the Papyrus X had been preserved in the mummy-case of an Egyptian chemist, and Lagercrantz agreed in the opinion and is convinced that the two works were the property of the same person, and that these copies were probably made as deluxe copies for the purpose of being entombed with their former owner in accordance with a common custom of placing in the tomb articles formerly owned or used by the deceased.
The two manuscripts were taken together from an interesting collection of laboratory recipes of the kinds which Diocletian ordered destroyed and which apparently were very generally destroyed. The date ascribed to them is about the time of the decree of Diocletian, and it may be presumed that, in the mummy case, they escaped the execution of that decree.
The laboratory manuals from which these copies were made, were written not for public information but for the guidance of the workers. The recipes themselves are often very detailed directions, but often also were mere hints or suggestions, sometimes elliptical to such an extent as to give no clear idea of the process as carried out.
The Leyden papyrus comprises about seventy-five recipes pertaining to the making of alloys, for soldering metals, for coloring the surfaces of metals, for testing the quality of or purity of metals, or for imitating the precious metals.
There are fifteen recipes for writing in gold or silver or in imitation of gold and silver writing. There are eleven recipes for dyeing stuffs in purple or other colors. The last eleven paragraphs are extracts from the Materia Medica of Dioscorides, relating to the minerals or materials used in the processes involved.
Berthelot notes that the artisan who used these notes while a practical worker in metals, especially the metals used by the jewelers, seemed to be a stranger to the arts of enamels and of artificial gems. It is, therefore, of great interest to discover that the Stockholm papyrus supplements the Leyden recipes in this direction. The Stockholm manuscript contains in all about a hundred and fifty recipes. Of these, only nine deal with metals and alloys, while over sixty relate to dyeing and about seventy to the production of artificial gems. Some ten others deal with the whitening of off-color pearls or the making of artificial pearls.
It has been noticed that there is practically only a duplication of recipes contained in each of the manuscripts, and very similar recipes occur in both. The recipes in both are empirical with no evidences of any occult theories, nor any of that obscurity of language which is so characteristic of the later alchemists.
The parts dealing with the metals are largely concerned with transmutation of gold, silver or electrum from cheaper materials, or with giving an external or superficial color of gold or silver to cheaper metal. There seems to be no self-deception in those matters. On the contrary, there are often claims that the product will answer the usual tests for genuine products, or that they will deceive even the artisans. The vocabulary of materials used is practically that of Dioscorides, with few changes in the meaning of such terms as are used by him, although at times the Latin equivalents of Vitruvius and Pliny have been employed.
There is little to be found in these manuscripts which suggests that there has been any advance in the practical arts as known in the times of Dioscorides and Pliny and which had been less specifically described by them, but the papyri in the more definite and detailed directions they give, throw a very interesting light upon the somewhat limited fields of industrial chemistry, of which they treat.

Examples will best serve to illustrate the character of the recipes and of the knowledge of practical chemistry which underlies them.
The following are some selections of the Papyrus of Leyden, as found in the previously mentioned translation of Berthelot:

Manufacture of asem (eleetrum)

Tin, 12 drachmas; quicksilver, 4 drachmas; earth of Chios, 2 drachmas. To the melted tin add the powdered earth, then add the mereury, stir with an iron, and put it into use.
[This, then, is a tin amalgam intended to give the appearance of asem or silver. The earth of Chios as described by Pliny appears to have been a white clay. Pliny says it was used by women as a cosmetic.]

The doubling (diplosis) of asem

Take refined copper (chalchos) 40 drachmas, asem 8 drachmas, button tin 40 drachmas. The copper is first melted and after two heatings the tin and finally the asem is added. When all is softened, remelt several times and cool by means of the preceding composition. Clean with coupholith (tale or selenite according to Berthelot). The tripling (triplosis) is effected by the same process, the weights being proportioned in conformity with what has been directed above.
[This recipe would yield a pale yellow bronze containing mercury if, as seems probable.]

Purification of tin

Liquid pitch and bitumen, one part of each. Throw it on and melt and stir. Of dry pitch 20 drachmas, bitumen 12 drachmas.
[This is manifestly a process of obtaining an unoxidized clean tin for further use.]

Manufacture of asem

Take soft tin in small pieces, four times purified. Take of it four parts and three parts of pure white Copper (or bronze, "chalchos"), and one part of asem. Melt and after casting, clean several times and make what you will with it. This will be asem of the first quality which will deceive even the artisans.
[Copper was whitened by the ancients sometimes by alloying with arsenic. A recipe in this papyrus gives directions for this whitening of copper.]

Augmentation of gold

To augment gold, take Thracian cadmia, make the mixture with the cadmia in crusts; or cadmia of Gaul misy and sinopian red, equal parts to that of gold. When the gold has been put into the furnace and has become of good color, throw in these two ingredients and removing [the gold] let it cool and the gold will be doubled.
[Cadmia, it will be remembered, is the impure zinc oxide, containing sometimes lead and copper oxides, from the furnaces in which brass was smelted. Misy was the partly oxidized iron or copper pyrites, essentially basic sulphates of iron and copper. Synopian red was haematite. This mixture, assuming the reducing action of the fuel in the furnace, or of any other reducing agent not specified in the recipe would yield an alloy of gold and zinc, with some copper and perhaps some lead.]

To make asem

Carefully purify lead with pitch and bitumen, or tin as well; mix cadmia and litharge in equal parts with the lead. Stir till the mixture becomes solid. It can be used like natural asem.
[Reduction in the furnace must here also be assumed. The soft white alloy so obtained must have been a cheap and poor substitute for electrum or silver.]

Preparation of chrysocolla (solder for gold)

The solder for gold is prepared thus: Copper of Cyprus 4 parts, asem 2 parts, gold 1 part. The copper is melted first, then the asem and finally the gold.
[It will be recalled that the term "chrysocolla" was applied also to malachite, verdigris and copper acetate, all of these being used for soldering gold.]

To determine the purity of tin

Having melted it, place paper (papyrus) underneath it and pour it out.
[If the paper is scorched the tin contains lead.]

To make asem black as obsidian

Asem, 2 parts, lead, 4 parts. Place in an earthen vessel, throw on it a triple weight of native sulphur, and having put into the furnace, melt. After withdrawing from the furnace, beat and make what you will. If you wish to make figured objects of beaten or cast metal, polish and cut it. It does not rust.
[This process yields a metallic mass blackened with sulphides of lead and silver, similar to the black silver bronze as described by Pliny.]
To give objects of copper the appearance of gold, so that neither the feel, nor rubbing on the touchstone can detect it, to serve especially for a ring of fine appearance.
Gold and lead are reduced to a fine powder like flour, 2 parts lead to 1 of gold. When mixed, they are mixed with gum and the ring covered with this mixture and heated. The operation is repeated several times till the article has taken the color. It is difficult to detect because rubbing gives the mark (or "scratch") of a genuine article, and the heat consumes the lead but not the gold.
[This is an interesting process of gold plating by using lead instead of mercury, the lead being oxidized and volatilized in the heating.]

Test for purity of gold

Remelt and heat it. If pure, it keeps its color after heating, and remains like a coin. If it becomes whiter, it contains silver, if it becomes rough and hard, it contains copper and tin, if it softens and blackens it contains lead.

To gild silver in a durable way

Take quicksilver and gold leaf, making to the consistency of wax. Clean the vase with alum, and taking a little of the waxy material spread it on the vase with the polisher and let it stand to fix. Do this five times. Take the vase with a linen cloth so that it be not soiled, and removing it from the coals, prepare ashes, smooth with the polisher and use it as a gold vase. It will stand the test for real gold.
[The recipes for writing with letters of gold vary much according to the material upon which the were to be applied, as also with respect to their relative durability.]

To write in letters of gold

Take quicksilver, pour it into a suitable vase and add gold leaf. When the gold appears dissolved in the quicksilver, shake well, add a little gum, one grain for example, and letting it stand, write in letters of gold.

Cheaper imitations of gold writing were also used as illustrated in the following:
Orpiment of gold color, 20 drachmas; powdered glass, 4 staters; or white of egg, 2 staters; white gum, 20 staters; safran.....
After writing, let it dry and polish with a tooth.
[An animal's tooth used by jewelers for polishing up till now. In other recipes, the yellow or gold color is obtained by sulphur mixed with gum; the "bile of the tortoise," or of the calf, "very bitter," serves also for the color. These may be secret trade names for some substances of different character.]


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PostSubject: Re: Technical Arts Related To Alchemy in Old Egypt   Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:52 pm

Part 3:
Earliest Chemical Manuscripts of the Chemical Arts In Egypt
Dyeing Processes in Leyden and Stockholm Papyri

The processes of dyeing are treated much more fully in the Swedish papyrus than in the Leyden one, and can better be discussed in connection with that work. Here you will find a comparison of dyeing processes in both papyri***:

Leyden papyrus

Preparation of purple: Break in small pieces Phrygian Stone; bring to a boil and having immersed the wool, leave it till becomes cool, then throwing into the vessel one mina of algae, boil and throw in the wool and letting cool, wash it in sea-water to purple coloration. The Phyrygian stone is roasted before breaking.

Stockholm papyrus

Purple - Roast and boil Phrygian stone. Let the wool stay in till cold. Then take it out; put into another vessel orseille (sea-wood or algae) and amranth, one mina of each, boil and let the wool cool in it.

***It is a pretty evidence (as Berthelot said) that the two recipes are practically the same, the one helps us to understand the other.

Phrygian Stone

-It is considered by Berthelot probably to have been an alunite, or basic sulphate of aluminium and potassium.

-While Pliny describes it as a porous stone resembling pumice which is saturated with wine and then calcined at red heat and quenched in sweet wine-the operation is three times repeated.

-Its only use is in dyeing cloths.

-The algae used are manifestly the source of the dyestuff were probably lichens such as were formerly much used and which yield the dyestuff called archil or orseille.

The notes on dyeing form an important part of the Stockholm papyrus, and furnish more specific information as to methods and materials employed than any other source of information as to the dyeing processes in use in Egypt in ancient times.

The recipes are almost exclusively devoted to the dyeing of wool. The colours range from purple and reds to rose, yellow, green and blue, though the greater number of recipes have to do with purple. That term with the ancients, included deep red and even red brown as well as purples proper.

Hints for testing the quality of dyestuffs

-Woad should be heavy and dark blue if good, if light and whitish, it is not good.

Syrian Kermes—crush those which are best colored and lightest, those which are black or spotted with white are bad. Rub up with soda and dissolve the fine colored.

-Rub up the best colored madder and so make the test.Purple colored and fast orseille is purple snail-colored, but the white spotted and the black is not good.

-When you rub up very fine colored orseille, take and hold it in your hand. (A rough color test on the palm of the hand?)
-Alum must be moist and very white, but that which contains saltness is not fit.

-Of "flowers of copper" that fit for use should be either dark blue, a very green leek-color or in general possess a very fine color (Flowers of copper, the flos aeris of Pliny, seems generally to be used for the copper oxide)

Methods For Whitening Pearls

Method 1:

If the pearls have a brownish tint as if smoked, it is directed to make a solution of honey in water, to add fig roots pounded fine, and to boil down the mixture. Spread it on the pearls as and let it harden, then remove it and wipe off with a linen cloth. If the pearls are not yet white, repeat the process.

Method 2:

Mordant or roughen the pearls by letting them stand in the "urine of a young boy" then covering them with "alum" and let what remains of the mordant dry. They are then put into an earthen vessel with "quicksilver" and "fresh bitch's milk". Everything was then heated together, the process being regulated. It was cautioned to apply the fuel externally and to maintain a gentle fire.

Notice: Lippmann suggested that "quicksilver" above mentioned cannot be mercury, but was probably some finely divided substance of pearly or silvery character, calculated to give the pearly luster.

** A curious method given for whitening a pearl is that of causing it to be swallowed by a cock, afterwards killing the cock and recovering the pearl, "when it will be found to be white."

Method of making Artificial Pearls:

One recipe of the Swedish papyrus that gives us the earliest account of methods of making artificial pearls is as follows: Mordant or roughen crystal in the urine of a young boy and powdered alum, then dip it in "quicksilver" and woman's milk.

The word "crystal" often meant with the ancients quartz crystal, but it is very evident that with the authors of these notes the term was used in a more comprehensive sense to include other transparent or translucent stones. This use is very evident in the many recipes for imitation of precious stones, where the processes involve a degree of porosity or absorbent power towards colored solutions not possessed either by quartz crystal or by glass, while certain agates, micas, alabasters or other stones possess this property. In case of the above recipe, it is doubtful whether any such mordanting would in a reasonable time roughen the surface of real quartz crystal adequately. The "quicksilver" here mentioned is evidently the same substance of pearly luster previously referred to.
A more elaborate process for making artificial pearls is the following, suggesting the modern "Roman pearls.": "Take a stone easily pulverized, as glimmer, and pulverize it. Take gum tragacanth and soften it for ten days in cow's milk. When it is softened, dissolve it till it becomes thick like glue. Melt Tyrrhenian wax. Take also the white of an egg and "quicksilver."

There must be two parts of "quicksilver" and three parts of stone, but of all other materials one part each. Mix (the stone and wax), and knead the mixture with the "quicksilver. " Soften the paste in the solution of gum and the contents of the egg.

Mix in this way the whole liquid with the paste. Then make the pearls which you wish according to pattern. The paste will soon be like stone. Make deep round impressions and bore them while moist. Let the pearls solidify and polish them well. Treated as they should be, they will excel the natural. "

Trade Names of Materials used in the Recipes

The use of the trade names for the purpose of concealing the character of the substance used where secrecy seemed desirable was not unknown at that period.

There is a passage in Leyden papyrus concerning this and says that: "Interpretation drawn from the sacred names, which the sacred writers employ for the purpose of putting at fault the curiosity of the vulgar. The plants and other things which they make use of for the images of the gods have been designated by them in such a way that for lack of understanding they perform a vain labor in following a false path. But we have drawn the interpretation of much of the description and hidden meanings."

The secret names in this manuscript which are placed with the real names are thirty-seven in number. They are such names as the later alchemists used extensively: "blood of the serpent," "blood of Hephaistos," "blood of Vesta,""seed of the lion," "seed of Hercules," "bone of the phyasimian," etc.

It is very probable that the term "quicksilver" in the preceding recipe takes its name from a similarity in appearance rather than from the deliberate attempt to mystify, for these recipes are for the artisan himself, not for the public, but it is also possible that some special constituents of these recipes were intentionally so named as to avoid advertising unnecessarily the more valuable secrets of their business.
The "blood of the dragon" for the red resin of the pterocarpusdraco is doubtless a surviving remnant of the fanciful names used for mystification. The Swedish papyrus has a few other names of the same character, though in general its vocabulary is plain and direct. Thus the Greek word for garlic is used to designate human feces, sometimes used in mordanting wool. The manuscript itself gives this translation.
The term "blood of the dove" used in the papyrus, Von Lippmann has identified from other sources as meaning red lead or sometimes cinnabar.


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