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Alchemy discussion forum > Request for information > Help required > Query in the Voarchadumia: craneis

Query in the Voarchadumia: craneis
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Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 03:16 pm
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Hi All,

I am currently translating Giovanni Agostino Panteo's Voarchadumia and have hit a snag. In one of his numerous attacks on Alchemy he says that you will get nowhere with:

...Oleis latericiis, lini, nitri, sublimati, sulfurisque, cinnabaris, craneis, necnon cum Terris tinctis...

The word I am having problems with is 'craneis'.

http://books.google.com/books?id=yy4PAAAAQAAJ&pg=RA2-PT7&lpg=RA2-PT7&dq=cinnabaris,+craneis&source=bl&ots=4GJA5s6gOJ&sig=5G3QWHVnKWMlzCN4TMLQyd8QjYA&hl=en&ei=tLQKS9_YLoqA4Qbvhe3JCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=cinnabaris%2C%20craneis&f=false

Panteo was not well served by his typesetter at Vivant Gaultherot (I am working from the 1550 Paris edition) and it could be just another typo, but the other editions I have looked at also have 'craneis'. Any suggestions?

Gratia vobis sit,

Paul

Last edited on Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 09:10 pm by Paul Ferguson

Carl Lavoie
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 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 09:57 pm
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Hi Paul,
Moyse Charas, in his influential Pharmacopée royale Galénique et Chymique (1676), praises highly, for a full five or six pages, the extracted volatile oil and ‘Sel de Crâne humain’ : « La meilleure Préparation Chymique que l’on puisse faire du Crane humain est celle de sa distillation ; pour laquelle ayant eu deux ou trois Cranes d’Hommes étranglez, ou morts par quelque autre violence lors qu’ils estoient bien sains, on les mettra dans une grande Cornuë de grez, etc. »

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k57430q.image.f787.tableDesMatieres.langFR

Now, were the remedies made from skulls of criminals such a fad in the mid-XVIth century, you tell me...

 

P. S.: Here is also the latin text, from 1684 :

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k58116k.image.langFR.f169.tableDesMatieres

Last edited on Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 10:49 pm by Carl Lavoie

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 10:38 pm
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Yes Carl, I think you're right. I will assume that 'cranei' was meant.

Thanks for the references. See also 'Names of body parts in English, 1400-1550' By Juhani Norri, which mentions 'tabella cranei' = 'table (hard layers) of the skull'.

It would seem to be a form of what modern chemists call Dippel's Oil:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dippel's_oil

Scientists seem to talk about 'skull oil' but only in an ichthyological context. Nevertheless I will use 'skull oil' which seems to have the right sort of blood-curdling ring to it,

Many thanks again,

Paul

Last edited on Mon Nov 23rd, 2009 10:41 pm by Paul Ferguson

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Tue Nov 24th, 2009 09:07 am
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Carl Lavoie wrote:
Hi Paul,
Moyse Charas, in his influential Pharmacopée royale Galénique et Chymique (1676), praises highly, for a full five or six pages, the extracted volatile oil and ‘Sel de Crâne humain’ : « La meilleure Préparation Chymique que l’on puisse faire du Crane humain est celle de sa distillation ; pour laquelle ayant eu deux ou trois Cranes d’Hommes étranglez, ou morts par quelque autre violence lors qu’ils estoient bien sains, on les mettra dans une grande Cornuë de grez, etc. »

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k57430q.image.f787.tableDesMatieres.langFR

Now, were the remedies made from skulls of criminals such a fad in the mid-XVIth century, you tell me...

 

P. S.: Here is also the latin text, from 1684 :

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k58116k.image.langFR.f169.tableDesMatieres


Thanks for the updated references. Charas recommends this preparation for apoplexy and epilepsy, presumably by simple analogy, but chemically it's just smelling salts.

They were right to go for skulls as bone is very dense there and the ammonium carbonate therefore more heavily concentrated.

Perhaps Adam, as a chemist, can shed light on the purely alchemical use of ammonium carbonate?

adammclean
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 Posted: Wed Nov 25th, 2009 02:56 pm
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Regarding ammonium carbonate, here is part of the entry in Mellor's Inorganic Chemistry.


H. Kopp  said that he was unable to find any references to ammonium carbonate earlier than Geber's Testamentum, where it is possible that this salt was in question when it was said that the incineration ex omnibus rebus etiam ex animalibus, piscibus, et volatilibus, potest fieri sal. The first definite allusion to ammonium carbonate occurs in a work attributed, probably wrongly, to Raymund Lully—namely, the Experimenta, supposed by the scholars to have been written in 1330, whereas Raymund Lully died 1315. Here it was said that the urine of boys between eight and twelve years of age should be allowed to putrefy, and then distilled. The distillation should be repeated many times on the first fractions of each distillate. Finally, a salt was said to be obtained which is very volatile—it was called mercurius animalis or spiritus animalism.  This same sal volatile was mentioned by many of the succeeding alchemists—e.g. J. von Roquetaillade refers to its formation by heating animal matters in a closed vessel: I. Hollandus called it spiritus urinae ; Basil Valentine called it spiritus salis urinae ; A. Sala noted that the spirit of urine can sat. (neutralize) the acids : J. B. van Helmont called it spiritus salis lotii or spiritus salis cruoris ; J. R. Glauber called it spiritus urinae and spiritus volatilis salis armoniaci ; O. Tachen prepared it in a purified condition by distilling sal ammoniac and calcium carbonate ; R. Boyle, and also J. Mayow, prepared it from blood and from urine.


In the seventeenth century it was supposed that the products derived from different sources were different; and all kinds of extravagant recipes were given….  When the alkaline character of spiritus urinae, indicated by A. Sala, had been established, the product was called alcali volatile salts ammoniaci, and this was further abbreviated to ammoniacum, and finally to ammonium. The commercial carbonate of ammonia is the so-called sal volatile, spirit of hartshorn, or sal volatile cornu cervi, and it is a mixture of several ammonium carbonates.


Last edited on Wed Nov 25th, 2009 02:57 pm by adammclean


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