La parola alchimia, dal greco chumeia, dall’arabo al-kimiya significa “arte di trasformare i metalli”

I primi esperimenti si svolsero ad Alessandria d’Egitto, uno dei maggiori centri di cultura e scienza dell’antichità, anticamente veniva pratica anche in Cina e in India.

Intorno al 144 a.C. troviamo delle testimonianze scritte, sull’uso dell’alchimia in Cina, quando con un proclama, l’imperatore cinese, decretò che chiunque usasse oro alchemico per stampare monete sarebbe stato condannato a morte.

Al II secolo a.C. risalgono invece i primi riferimenti in India.

In cosa credevano gli alchimisti?

Credevano di poter trasformare, attraverso un processo chiamato trasmutazione, i metalli vili in metalli preziosi con l’aiuto della cosiddetta pietra filosofale.

Tutto si basava sulle teorie del filosofo greco Aristotele che riteneva che in natura tutto fosse soggetto a cambiamenti.

Il primo alchimista di cui si hanno notizie fu Bolos di Mendes, detto anche Democrito, vissuto nei pressi di Alessandria nel 250 a.c.

Alcuni dei suoi scritti esistono ancora e furono scoperti nel 1828 in Egitto; descrivevano vari metodi per creare imitazioni dell’oro.

Lo storico greco Zosimo scrisse, intorno al 300 d.c. un’enciclopedia sull’alchimia di cui esistono ancora alcuni frammenti, da cui si desume che non tutti gli alchimisti erano uomini.

Si parla, infatti, una donna di nome Cleopatra (non la regina egizia) e di una certa Maria l’Ebrea che inventarono vari utensili, alcuni dei quali usati ancora oggi, proprio da lei prenderebbe il nome della cottura detta a bagnomaria.

Dopo che l’Egitto fu conquistato dai Romani, gli alchimisti furono costretti a nascondersi.

Preoccupazione dei romani, era che l’oro alchemico potesse servire per finanziare delle ribellioni ed infatti quando nel 296 d.c. scoppiò una ribellione, l’imperatore Diocleziano ordinò la distruzione di 290 scritti che trattavano la produzione di oro e argento con metodi alchemici.

Nel 642 d.c., quando gli Arabi liberarono Alessandria dal dominio bizantino, si interessarono subito all’alchimia e tradussero dal greco all’arabo molti testi.

Jabir ibn Hayyan, fu l’alchimista arabo più famoso.

L’alchimia raggiunse l’Europa nell’ XI- XII secolo con i crociati che tornavano dalle loro battaglie contro i musulmani.

Robert di Chester fu il primo, nel 1144, a tradurre un testo dall’arabo al latino, improvvisamente un nuovo fervore scientifico si diffuse per tutta l’Europa.

La ricerca era in corso e sarebbe durata secoli.

Iside e l’alchimia

217 pensiero su “ALCHIMIA”
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