What is it about?

An overview of the history of chemistry from earliest times until 1661. Both theoretical and practical aspects are covered. Contributions from early civilisations are discussed: Early Man, Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, China, India, Arabia, Europe. Robert Boyle published his Sceptical Chymist in 1661, when he was just 34. This work set off a new wave of thinking about chemical phenomena - it played a key role in the evolution of chemistry as an independent branch of science. The most recent work in this field has been included in the references.

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Why is it important?

Unique features include: A suggested history of events which led to the discovery of gunpowder by the Chinese, the introduction of the Polish alchemist Sendivogius as a key figure in the evolution of ideas (via nitre - potassium nitrate) concerning our understanding of air and its role in natural processes.


This is most important since it is an up to date, and easily accessible treatment of a broad topic - the early history of chemistry. Its purpose is to give the reader a good understanding of how chemistry has evolved, which is also interesting and easy to follow.

Dr Zbigniew Andrew szydlo
Highgate School

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The beginnings of chemistry: from ancient times until 1661, Pure and Applied Chemistry, April 2022, De Gruyter, DOI: 10.1515/pac-2022-0203.
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