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Geber, Islamic alchemist

Geber, Islamic alchemist

H407/0333

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Credit

SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Geber (c.722-c.815), Islamic Spanish alchemist, teaching chemistry. Geber is a Latinised form. His full Arabic name is Jabir ibn Hayyan. Geber is sometimes known as the Father of Chemistry, as he was instrumental in turning it from a mystical practice (alchemy) into a science. He insisted on mastery of practical chemistry, and invented much of the equipment still used in laboratories today. Although he worked on the alchemist's goal of turning base metals into gold, he did so in a scientific manner. His writings included work on furnaces, crystallisation and distillation. He also described common compounds and substances, including acids, bases and salts. Here, he is pictured teaching at the school at Edessa in Mesopotamia (now Sanliurfa in Turkey). Engraving from the 1883 edition of Vies des Savants Illustres.

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