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Engraving of Geber (or Jabir), Arabian alchemist

Engraving of Geber (or Jabir), Arabian alchemist

H407/0165

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SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Geber. Engraving of Geber (721-815), Arabian alchemist. His Arabic name was Jabir ibn Hayyan. Geber's most influential theory was that the four elements (water, air, fire and earth) could be combined to form two different solid substances, mercury and sulphur. Mercury was the idealised metal, sulphur the ideal of combustibility; from a mixture of them any substance could be made, including gold. The substance which could perform this transmutation was the 'al-iksir', which was written in latin as 'elixir'. He also published accurate descriptions of chemical experiments. Geber's reputation was such that many medieval alchemists wrote their own work under his name.

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