About this item
Building upon sustained scholarly and popular interest in both alchemy and pre-modern medicine, this volume reveals how physicians practiced alchemy and alchemists produced medicaments. It shows how, besides sharing knowledge, physicians and alchemists engaged in fierce polemics, adapted one another’s techniques, and united against common foes. Whether appropriating medical knowledge or defining themselves in opposition to it, alchemical practitioners engaged continually with the practice, theory, and language of medicine.
Adopting a longue durée approach to explore these connections, the sixteen essays in this collection each address a key topic in the history of alchemy and medicine, written by a subject specialist – in many cases, the leading authority on that topic. While European traditions provide the core of the volume, contributors also discuss Greco-Roman Egypt, medieval Islam, the Ottoman Empire, and the East Indies; accommodating Greek, Arabic, Latin, and vernacular traditions. Examination of these themes and contexts furthers our understanding of issues central to the history of science and medicine: the relationship between court and city, print and manuscript, and theoretical and practical knowledge; the circulation of "secrets" literature; the role of chemical medicine in courts and universities; and the material and economic context of alchemy.