Term: chemistry (n)
Literally meaning: "chymia: the art of pouring or alloying together"
Origin* Anc Greek
χυμεία/khymeia/chymia (=cast together) > χύμα/chyma (=loose) or χυμός/chymos (=fluid, liquid) > χέειν/chein(=pour)
(-ery)>(-ry)(=word forming names denoting “art of”)>(-arius)(lat)
Chemistry is the scientific discipline that deals with the matter composition and characteristics as also with transformation of the matter.
The origin of the word is controversial. The most acceptable theory is the derivation from Arabic word al-kimia that is more likely to be derived by Greek “chymia”.
Another etymological theory supports the origin from “Kem(e)”(=black) the koptic name of Egypt due to the black colored soil in Nile valley. It is hypothesized that when Egypt was occupied by the Arabs in the 7th Century,the “al” was added to “chemia” (=the black land). The first author that mention Egypt as Chem was Plutarch in his treatise Ιsis and Osiris who observe that in the sacred dialect of the Egypt was “chemia” as the blac of eye.
Until 18th cen the term was written with “Υ” or “Ι” (corresponds to Greek “Υ”and only in English spelling the “Υ” replaced by “Ε” as by Andreas Libeau (Libanius) (1550-1616), French physician Nicola Lemery (1645-1715) and Lavoisier in his book "Opuscules physiques et chymiques". .
Chemistry vs Alchemia
About c. 4,000 BCE a refined copper smelting and solid glass beads were manufactured in Egypt. Theritically Aristotls’s (4th cen BC) in order to explain many of the actions of nature and how matter is made up of the four elements (proto hylo) of nature - Fire, Earth, Air and Water asserted that any substance can convert from one to another. In opposite to this theory Leucippus, and his follower Democritus of Abdera (460? - 360 BC) in the same period stated that matter is composed by invisible tiny particles that move around and he called them “atoma”=uncuttable. He claimed that these particles couldn’t be changed but they differ to size and shape creating different forms of matter. In China and India believed in cinnabar a compound of mercury and sulfur. Mercury had the principle of yin and sulfur of yan and are the investor of gunpowder and paper (202BC). As many ancient Greek treatises were destroyed from the Library of Alexandria by Christians in 3rd cen AD the only translated texts were from Greek to Arabic and with this way The Aristotls’ concept transformed via Arabs to the conception of alchemists for conversion of any metal to gold. In addition the Arabs believed that metals are made up of mercury and sulfur in varying proportions. Jabir ibn Hayyan (721–815), a royal alchemist in Baghdad who is known in West as Geber (Al-Geber->Algebra) mentioned that important compounds as corrosive sublimate (mercuric chloride), red oxide of mercury (mercuric oxide), and silver nitrate grew in the Earth. So, the gold production required the purification of these ingredients. In the Mathesis of astrologist Julius Firmicious meternus ,in 4th cen AC who stated that if a person is born under the sign of Mercury he devoted himself to the scinece of astronomy and if under Saturn to the science of alchemy “Si fuerit haec domus, Saturn, dabit scientiam Alchemiae (or Chemiae in ceratin manuscripts). And this art was known as “Hermetic Art “ or “Sacred Art”
The West first learned about alchemy in the 12th cen as they copied and translated Arabic texts into Latin. Medieval science was still dominated by the ideas of Aristotle. In 17th cen the Fench chemist Lavoisier stated that the Aristotels theory is mistaken and matter neither destroyed neither nor created but it only coverted to one form from another (law of conservation of matter).
Alchemists many times were made no distinction between pure chemistry and spiritual philosophy . In 1662, Robert Boyle (1627–1691) the father of modern chemistry, tates that the volume of a gas decreases as the pressure on it increases, and vice versa. Boyle claiming to have changed gold into mercury by means of “quicksilver,” the ingredients of which he did not reveal. Boyle used his 1661 text The Sceptical Chymist to explain his hypothesis and to dismiss Aristotle’s four-elements theory. By the late 18th century, the field of chemistry had fully separated from traditional alchemy while remaining focused on questions relating to the composition of matter. It was Mendeleev who demonstrated that the elements could be arranged in a periodic — regular and recurring — relationship to each other based on their atomic weights and who created a periodic table that could accurately predict the properties of elements that had yet to be discovered. Mendeleev’s table is still used today.
a) Theophrastus (Θεόφραστος, c. 371 – c. 287 BC) On Stones (Περὶ λίθων)(Classification of Rocks based on their hardness and behavior when heated and hardness.
b) Bolus of Mendes ( Βῶλος ὁ Μενδήσιος,3rd century BC) wrote for natural medical remedies from some resources of nature
c) “Egypt, moreover, which has the blackest of soils, they call by the same name as the black portion of the eye, “Chemia”, and compare it to a heart; for it is warm and moist and is enclosed by the southern portions of the inhabited world and adjoins them, like the heart in a man's left side.” Plutarch(100AD), On Isis and Osiris (pg. 83)
d) Morris, Richard. The Last Sorcerers: The Path from Alchemy to the periodic Table. Washington, D.C.: Joseph Henry Press. 2003.