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Philosophical stone origins project.
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Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Tue May 13th, 2014 12:12 pm
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Greetings,

I have recently released an unpublished and very early draft of a project investigating the origin of the philosophical stone, and the Greco-Egyptian tradition in general:

https://www.academia.edu/7010015/Nature_Rejoicing_In_Nature_On_the_Origin_of_the_Philosophical_Stone

I am seeking critical feedback on my central hypotheses, and was wondering if anyone on this forum could perhaps help in this regard.

I will attempt to sum up my findings in brief:

A. The earliest recipe I have found for the manufacture of the philosophical stone is that of Zosimos of Panopolis: On Quicklime. In the above paper I quote from the two most scholarly translations of this writing (The Greek copy translated by Mertens, and an Arabic copy translated by Hallum). Zosimos claims that no one before him has openly revealed the manufacture of the stone. Based on this very simple recipe, my conclusion is that the chemical identity of the philosophical stone (of Zosimos) is calcium acetate. I am curious to know if anyone on this forum is able to provide an alternate reading of this recipe or if perhaps I have misinterpreted something along the way?

B. I have also noticed that this recipe appears in a modified form in the Arabic text called Mushaf as-suwar (Tome of Images). This is most likely an adaptation of Zosimean texts by an Islamicate author. My initial findings suggest that this book is an extremely detailed exposition of the operation of Zosimos suggested in On Quicklime. I have studied the Mushaf as-suwar in great detail over the course of the past year, and the book is full of what I consider to be bombshell revelations regarding the Greco-Egyptian tradition. One problem faced is that we do not know how much of the book is authentic material from Zosimos. Some of the content can be authenticated, and some of the content can be proven to be Islamicate interpolation. Then there is a grey area where we do not know if the material is authentic or not.

Here are just a few of the claims made by the Zosimos of the Mushaf as-suwar:

1. Almost all of the ingredients in alchemical recipes of the Greco-Egyptian tradition are contrived. For example, all of the metals of the alchemical work are not actually metals. They are merely symbols that represent 'natures' and the changing states of the 'elixir'. Zosimos is very clear that the goal is not to 'make gold' in any kind of literal sense.

2. All of the operations and recipes of the Greco-Egyptian tradition, which are seemingly completely different, actually refer to different aspects of one central work. Zosimos cites the schools of Democritus, Maria, Isis, Agathodaimon, Ostanes, Hermes, and others as referring to one principal alchemical work.

3. Zosimos claims that craft traditions are used only as analogy. The most common crafts employed are metallurgy, dyeing, glass making, the making of talismans, and medicine. However, Zosimos is clear that none of these crafts represent the true alchemical work - they are merely symbols employed due to certain functional similarities.

We cannot know with certainty whether or not the opinions of the Zosimos of the Mushaf as-suwar actually reflect the true Greco-Egyptian tradition (though they most certainly reflect the opinion of the Islamicate author). However, the possibility is certainly intriguing. If these opinions are true, then much of the scholarly work on the Greco-Egyptian tradition to date is entirely incorrect (as the majority of the interpretations I have seen focus on a more or less literal understanding of the recipes). One of the aims of my paper, given the evidence of the Mushaf as-suwar, is to suggest that a symbolic understanding of these recipes is a possibility (though not a certainty by any means).

I am currently awaiting the release of Matteo Martelli's new book 'The Four Books of Pseudo-Democritus'. The Zosimos of the Mushaf as-suwar claims that all four books are entirely symbolic. He says that even though the books appear to discuss metallurgy (the making of artificial silver and gold) and dyeing (imitating precious stones, making purple dye, etc.) that these crafts are just ruses which hide different aspects of making the philosophical stone. The next step in my research will be to compare the methodology suggested by the Mushaf as-suwar to the scholarly material published by Martelli. I have no idea as yet what the results of this approach will be.

Please understand that my paper referenced above is very preliminary, and will likely undergo major revisions over time. I thought it wise, however, to share my initial findings in the very early stages. Hopefully this will lead to an interesting discussion in any event.

Cheers,
Daniel

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Tue May 13th, 2014 11:21 pm
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Hi Daniel and welcome,

I am not a chemist but this business with calcium acetate sounds very like what Jean Dubuis was up to with, I think, oyster shells.

See, for example:

http://fr.scribd.com/doc/28460379/Mineral-Vol-2


A few years ago a similar procedure was discussed on one of the practical alchemy fora (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/archive/index.php/t-1694.html ). I have summarised what was said there below.

"1. Some sea shells were dissolved in concentrated vinegar.

2. The vinegar was distilled once by freezing and then distilled normally by fire to remove the red colour. The resulting distillate was very approximately 13 degrees Baumé (measured with a wine viscometer). The initial vinegar was 6 degrees Baumé.

3. The calcium acetate was then evaporated over a low fire.

4. Approx. 10 grams of it were dry distilled using a setup similar to tartar distillation.

5. First the phlegm passed [sic]. This phlegm behaved like water (indeed, it is water according to some sources) and had an emetic smell.

6. The condenser then filled with thick white fumes. It condensed to a golden liquid. This had a sweet aroma but the emetic smell from the phlegm was still present because the flask was not replaced.

7. Some of the golden liquid was burned [sic] and became a white watery milk.

The fumes in the condensor are quite mesmerising. The acetone and the oils may be formed when these fumes condense, not when they leave the metal.

According to Becker, calcium acetate yields mostly acetone without the red oil. This acetone can be distilled off. Some use it to extract metals; it then turns red. I think this is mistaken. Acetone self-condenses when heated (digested). The same thing happens with tartar volatile distillates.

Buy commercial acetone (nail-polish remover!) and throw in some drops of concentrated sulfuric acid. You will then get the traditional colour sequence (transparent to yellow to red) in just a few minutes. This is the famous Potable Gold referred to by Bartlett and others. Maybe the metal acts upon it as a catalyst and produces something different, but the acetone and sulfuric acid will show up in distillation tests and CG/MS scans in the same way as in Bartlett's "The way of the crucible".

What products of the acetate process do we need to check?

1) The medicinal qualities of the acetone in accordance with Becker's document. In an issue of the magazine "Ora et Labora" [one of the 1994 issues I think - PF] there is some information on how to proceed with oyster shells.

2) The red oil, which can physically dissolve gold.

3) The stone can be confected if you repeatedly imbibe the Salt with fresh Mercury in
the same way that you make a plant-stone."


I think I am right in saying that calcium acetate is unique among the actetates in that all the others reduce to acetic acid whereas calcium actetate reduces to acetone?

Maybe some of the chemists on here can comment on this procedure (Alexander? Johann?)

On a general point I think you need to look at the work of some of the non-academic practical alchemists like the guys above as well as the strictly academic sources.

I dare say you are already familiar with the discussion about Zosimus that took place years ago on Adam's previous forum:

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/a-archive_dec02.html

Search on that page for "19 Dec 2002"

Good luck with your research anyway. I hope the above is some use and not a red herring,


Paul

Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Wed May 14th, 2014 03:12 am
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
Hi Daniel and welcome,

A few years ago a similar procedure was discussed on one of the practical alchemy fora (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/archive/index.php/t-1694.html ).
"According to Becker, calcium acetate yields mostly acetone without the red oil."

I think I am right in saying that calcium acetate is unique among the actetates in that all the others reduce to acetic acid whereas calcium actetate reduces to acetone?

Maybe some of the chemists on here can comment on this procedure (Alexander? Johann?)

On a general point I think you need to look at the work of some of the non-academic practical alchemists like the guys above as well as the strictly academic sources.

I dare say you are already familiar with the discussion about Zosimus that took place years ago on Adam's previous forum:

http://www.alchemywebsite.com/a-archive_dec02.html

Paul


Thank you so much for the reply Paul,

I am working from the English translation of Becker that is commonly available on the Internet. The PDF is under copyright of 'Frater Parush' but I'm guessing this is a pseudonym. Assuming this translation is accurate, and perhaps the German speaking members could verify this, Becker absolutely states that the red oil comes from a distillation of calcium acetate. The post you reference contradicts the translation I have before me (and that was cited in my paper). I'm not sure why this person claimed otherwise, unless the English translation is somehow faulty.

To say that calcium acetate is unique in producing acetone from a distillation would be wholly inaccurate according to the GC/MS tests of Bartlett (Appendix II A - The Way of the Crucible). However, acetone is just one piece of an extremely complex puzzle. (And you are correct that acetic acid is a component of some of these distillations, according to Bartlett). I have sent a copy of my paper directly to Bartlett, and am looking forward to see what he has to say. He seems to be one of the only people who has done any serious investigation into the byproducts of acetate distillations (and someone please enlighten me if there are others!).

I have done a fair amount of research into the acetate path in general, and the European texts that appear to reference it (Becker even makes the bold claim that Basil Valentine was talking about the acetate path, but covered it with a path involving vitriol!). Though I have left out that discussion for now, it is an area that I plan to expand upon in the future. I would certainly love to hear from practicing alchemists on the matter. (And I will certainly replicate these procedures myself as soon as the opportunity arises - such is not easily possible within the confines of a New York City apartment).

Regarding the discussion of December '02 that you cite, I am familiar with the references cited (Mertens probably being the most important of any to date). Adam mentioned particularly 'On the Letter Omega'. Here is a quote from Jackson's translation: "What he calls the great and wonderful letter Omega heads the section on apparatus for the liquid of sulphur...". This water of sulfur is an extremely important element discussed within the Mushaf as-suwar and all throughout the Greco-Egyptian tradition. I quote quite a few passages referring to this water in my paper. My hypothesis suggests that this 'water of sulfur' actually contains no elemental sulfur (sulfur being a contrived name), but is rather strong vinegar (which "burns" the male nature). To extend this suggestion: Omega = ocean = Saturn/Kronos = lead = The female nature = vinegar.

Cheers,
Daniel

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Wed May 14th, 2014 03:48 am
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There would seem to be another English translation of the Becker, by Leone Muller:

http://ramsdigital.com/mobile/toc/DASACETONE.html


The dry distillation of calcium acetate to acetone was first reported by Friedel in 1858:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jlac.18581080124/abstract

Last edited on Wed May 14th, 2014 03:59 am by Paul Ferguson

Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Wed May 14th, 2014 11:01 am
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Paul Ferguson wrote:
There would seem to be another English translation of the Becker, by Leone Muller:
http://ramsdigital.com/mobile/toc/DASACETONE.html

The dry distillation of calcium acetate to acetone was first reported by Friedel in 1858:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jlac.18581080124/abstract


I have the RAMS collection on order now, and I will compare the translations as soon as that arrives.

A couple more papers to add:

"Distillation of Acetate of Lime"
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ie50179a013

The paper casually mentions a few of the byproducts of calcium acetate distillation, but the focus is on acetone production.

"The Formation of Acetone from Acetates"
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed026p275

A comparison of acetone production from calcium acetate vs. sodium acetate (calcium acetate produces higher yields). The introduction paragraph says the following:

"One of the earliest reports on obtaining acetone from acetates of the alkali metals was from the work of Boyle, who noticed that the heating of potassium acetate formed a liquid. In 1732 Boerhaave showed that the liquid was not alcohol, and in 1805 Trommsdorff pointed out that the liquid obtained by heating potassium or sodium acetate "stands between alcohol and ether." Chenevix, in 1809, found that any of the acetate salts formed the same liquid (I). (The constitution of the compound, which we now know as acetone, was later shown by Williamson.)"

Last edited on Wed May 14th, 2014 01:47 pm by Daniel_Burnham

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Wed May 14th, 2014 02:29 pm
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Hi Daniel,

As you will know, Becker's original German text is at Adam's website here:

http://www.levity.com/alchemy/acetone.html

I assume the relevant passage is section 8, which reads:

8) Aceton aus essigsaurem Kalk.
(Poterii Opp. p. 612.)
Die Korallen werden in destillirtem Essig aufgelöst, die Auflösung wird abgedampft und das trockene Salz in eine beschlagene Retorte gegeben. Mit schwachem Feuer wird erst das Phlegma entfernt, dann bei verändertem Recipienten der Spiritus mit einer geringen Menge eines rothen Oels, beide sehr wohlriechend und höchst roth, destillirt.
Quercetanus erhielt aus ein Pfund des Korallensalzes 6 Unzen Spiritus.
Bei einem 1841 hier angestellten Versuche, Aceton aus essigsaurem Kalk zu bereiten, wurde ein Präparat erhalten, welches sich anders wie das aus essigsaurem Natron verhielt. Es roch nicht so gewürzhaft, sondern ähnlich dem Holzessig, der Geschmack war nicht so fein, das empyreumatische Oel schmeckte brandig und roch stärker; es wurde deshalb nicht zum arzeneilichen Gebrauche angewandt.
Ueber das chemische Verhalten des Acetons habe ich folgende Beobachtung gemacht. Im November 1861 fand ich in der Apotheke noch einen Rest aus früherer Zeit von Spiritus Aceti oleosus von einigen Unzen. Er war gelblich gefärbt, und hatte seinen vollen Geruch. Eine Probe davon mit Schwefelsäure versetzt, wurde sogleich dunkelroth, während bei reinem Aceton aus einer chemischen Fabrik die Färbung viel später eintrat. Ich setzte das mit einem geriebenen Glasstöpsel versehene Glas auf den Hinterofen. Nach 14 Tagen war ein Theil verdunstet, und hatte sich ein rubinrothes Oel auf die Oberfläche abgeschieden. Der Geruch desselben war wie Aceton, der Geschmack bitter und lange anhaltend; es färbte Lakmuspapier zinnoberroth, während reines Aceton nach einigen Minuten nur eine schwach saure Reaction zeigte.
Ich liess eine halbe Unze reines Aceton zusetzen, wodurch das Oel sich sogleich auflöste. Ich setzte das Glas, noch mit Gyps [Gips] verwahrt, wieder auf den Hinterofen. Nach einiger Zeit hatte sich unter Lockerung des Gypses und theilweiser Verflüchtigung der Flüssigkeit das rubinrothe Oel wieder gebildet, und hat sich, vom Ofen weggesetzt, seitdem erhalten. Beim Vermischen einiger Tropfen mit Wasser, scheidet es sich schnell aus, und setzt sich zu Boden, doch ist der Geschmack des Wassers bitter wie das Oel und der Geruch wie Aceton.

Here's my own translation:

8) Acetone from calcium acetate.
(Petrus Poterius, Works, p. 612)

The corals are dissolved in distilled vinegar. The solution is then evaporated and the dry salt transferred to a luted retort. First the phlegma is removed with a low heat. In a replacement receptacle the spirit is then distilled along with a small quantity of a red oil; both are very fragrant and a deep red in colour.

Joseph du Chesne obtained 6 oz of spirit from a pound of Sal coralliorum.

In an experiment performed here in 1841 to prepare acetone from calcium acetate a preparation was obtained that was different from that obtained from sodium acetate. The odour was not as spicy, but was similar to that of pyroligneous acid, while the taste was not so refined. The empyreumatic oil had a burning taste and a stronger smell: it was not therefore thought to be suitable for pharmaceutical use.

I have made the following observation regarding the chemical behaviour of acetone. In November 1861 I found, in the pharmacy, a several-ounce residue of Spiritus Aceti oleosus [rectified wine spirit] dating from an earlier period. It was yellowish and had a ripe odour. A sample of this spirit was mixed with sulfuric acid. It immediately turned a dark red, whereas in the case of pure acetone obtained from a chemical-works this colouration would occur much later. I then put the receptacle, provided with a ground-glass stopper, onto the rear-oven. After 14 days a portion had evaporated and a ruby-red oil had been deposited on the surface. Its odour was like that of acetone, while its taste was bitter and persistent. It turned litmus-paper vermilion, whereas pure acetone has only displayed a weak acidic reaction after a few minutes.

I then added half an ounce of pure acetone. This caused the oil to solubilise immediately. I then put the receptacle, still surrounded with gypsum, back onto the rear-oven again. After some time the ruby-red oil had formed once more, under relaxation of the gypsum and partial evaporation of the liquid. The oil still retained its character even after it was removed from the oven. When some drops of the oil were mixed with water the oil separated out rapidly and formed a deposit, yet the taste of the water was as bitter as the oil itself and its taste was that of acetone.

Hope this is some help,

Paul

Last edited on Wed May 14th, 2014 08:32 pm by Paul Ferguson

Daniel_Burnham
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 Posted: Thu May 15th, 2014 12:00 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote:

"In a replacement receptacle the spirit is then distilled along with a small quantity of a red oil; both are very fragrant and a deep red in colour."


Thank you,

This seems to confirm that Becker did distill the 'red oil' from calcium acetate.

Though Bartlett did not analyze the distillate of calcium acetate in his book, his analysis of sodium acetate also reported a "thick, blood red oil with a strong aromatic odor" (Way of the Crucible, p. 296).

If there are any practicing chemists/alchemists on the forum who could easily perform a canonical distillation of calcium acetate, I would more than happily compensate any time and material costs for the endeavor - if only to confirm Becker's results. (By canonical, I mean calcium acetate formed from natural sources: roasted eggshells, natural wine vinegar. Factory produced quicklime and factory made vinegar may be lacking in some secondary components - It would be nice to perform the experiment as Zosimos would have.)

Cheers,
Daniel

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Thu May 15th, 2014 12:29 pm
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"Calcium acetate when heated at a temperature of about 380° C. decomposes, giving acetone and a residue of calcium carbonate, but at the same time the accompanying calcium salts present as impurities also react and acetaldehyde and various higher ketones are formed together with the condensation products. In addition other impurities (such as dumasin) and tar-like bodies are formed."

http://tinyurl.com/qb3xfdu


I also thought I read somewhere that artificial Oil of Rue (real thing pictured) had been obtained from this process. I wonder to what extent the use of vinegar would affect the colour of any liquid obtained?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruta_graveolens

Attached Image (viewed 503 times):

401px-RutaGraveolensEssentialOil.png

Last edited on Thu May 15th, 2014 12:37 pm by Paul Ferguson

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Fri May 16th, 2014 03:52 pm
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Several metallic acetates produce acetone, in varying proportions to other stuff coming off.  The key point is, I think, that reactions take place in the vapour phase, thus I have produced complex benzene related products from iron acetate, which if you carry out the reaction in a more modern setup don't really occur.

I'm planning a full investigation later this year when (if) I get time, including chemical analysis of the products. 

The recipe the OP refers to is Authentic Memoirs number 13, but using lime and vinegar seems possible, although Mertens translates it as alabastre, and it seems that name could apply to calcium carbonate or calcium sulphide, the question is whether you have burnt them beforehand to produce lime. 

It is also worth noting that one of the recipes for a divine water involves the use of eggs, both yolk, white and shell, meaning that calcium and sulphur are intimately united.  But his suggested temperature of distillation is dodgy, being rather low to expect many results, as I found. 

I also think that Zosimos was referring to metals, the simple point being that actual historians and archaeologists reckon that the term "gold" as used back then was applied both to what we now call the metal gold, and to anything else that was also gold coloured.  Thus the confusion.  Yet some of the colours and reactions suggested require metal, usually silver or copper or lead.  I need to do some more experiments with the 4 metal alloy too. 

Finally, the 4 books of pseudo-democritus translation is available free to members of the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry, but I have no idea whether you can buy it separate from membership, you could try asking them on their website, http://www.ambix.org

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Fri May 16th, 2014 03:55 pm
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That distillation book, Paul, is a good find, I've been looking for such a text for a while, because a lot of earlier distillation books (Have you discovered the wealth of 19th century chemistry books available through archive.org?) don't have the detail and many 20th century ones do, but of other processes not that of making acetone from a variety of salts.  There's not been much published on the matter either. 

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 Posted: Fri May 16th, 2014 04:05 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
That distillation book, Paul, is a good find, I've been looking for such a text for a while, because a lot of earlier distillation books (Have you discovered the wealth of 19th century chemistry books available through archive.org?) don't have the detail and many 20th century ones do, but of other processes not that of making acetone from a variety of salts.  There's not been much published on the matter either. 


Yes, archive.org is also very good and has Sydney Young's book on Fractional Distillation:

https://archive.org/details/fractionaldisti00youngoog

ETA: sorry, this would appear to be the same book under a different title!

Last edited on Fri May 16th, 2014 04:34 pm by Paul Ferguson

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 Posted: Sat May 17th, 2014 08:33 am
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
The recipe the OP refers to is Authentic Memoirs number 13, but using lime and vinegar seems possible, although Mertens translates it as alabastre, and it seems that name could apply to calcium carbonate or calcium sulphide, the question is whether you have burnt them beforehand to produce lime.

Zosimos very clearly describes a roasting operation for the calcium carbonate prior to its introduction to the vinegar. Although I point out that the reaction with vinegar is quite similar with regard to calcium carbonate vs. calcium oxide (perhaps going with the oxide form leads to different secondary reactions). If alabaster/alabastrun is a code for something else, it is in any case being roasted first. However, I make the argument against this because Zosimos states outright that no one has explained the process openly before him (nor anyone since, apparently).

It is also worth noting that one of the recipes for a divine water involves the use of eggs, both yolk, white and shell, meaning that calcium and sulphur are intimately united.  But his suggested temperature of distillation is dodgy, being rather low to expect many results, as I found.

Do you have a source for this?

I also think that Zosimos was referring to metals, the simple point being that actual historians and archaeologists reckon that the term "gold" as used back then was applied both to what we now call the metal gold, and to anything else that was also gold coloured.  Thus the confusion.  Yet some of the colours and reactions suggested require metal, usually silver or copper or lead.  I need to do some more experiments with the 4 metal alloy too.

Referring to metals where exactly? Also keep in mind the admonition of Zosimos: The components of the stone are found in the dunghills and can be bought cheaply at the market. Certainly metals do not fit this description in any sense (however, eggshells might very well be found in the trash, and vinegar and eggs might be bought cheaply).

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Sat May 17th, 2014 08:58 am
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Authentic memoir 9 contains the recipe for treatment of eggs.  I've carried it out as well as I can, and the problem is that if you try to distill it all at a low enough temperature you don't get much coming over, because oddly enough you need the heat to vaporise water etc.

It is also entirely likely that Zosimos was not writing accurately himself, as well as the fact that there seems to have been some variety in alchemical practise in the period anyway, so several different things would have been regarded as the stone.  However the dunghill thing makes me wonder if hens nested on dunghills sometimes because of the warmth, which would, as it were, kill two birds with one stone in understanding that phrase you refer to. 

As for metals, I mean especially gold or silver, I don't recall Zosimos referring to metals per se, but I am not good at languages (we desperately need a proper English translation of the Authentic memoirs).  Anyway, number 5 mentions something along the lines of "Whoever comprehends this posesses gold and silver". 
Number 2, in part 4, uses a "copper without shadow", which is a substance familiar to us from pseudo-Democritus. 

I agree that calcium acetate is a likely 'stone', but it is surely not the only one, even if Zosimos favoured it above all others. 

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 Posted: Sat May 17th, 2014 12:26 pm
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Looking again at Zosimus III.xxix.4

The Greek (transliterated) says:
"Alabastron ton panu leukotaton lithon ton egkephalon ton hōs ozon echonta hōs thermēn. Touton labōn, leiōson kai taricheuson oxei."

Which I translate as:
"Alabaster [???] is certainly the whitest stone, the stone that is located in the head, the one that is like a bough [or branch] having heat [aflame?]. Take this, triturate it and pickle it in vinegar made from cheap wine."

I don't have the Mertens translation, but Berthelot translates this passage as:
"L'alabastron est la pierre la plus blanche, la pierre encéphale, celle qui est comme une paillante brûlante. Prends-la, pulvérise et fais macérer dans la vinaigre."

i.e.
"Alabaster [???] is the whitest stone, the encephalous stone, which is like a burning spangle. Take it, pulverise it and macerate it in vinegar."


"Alabastron" is a problem, as strictly speaking it means a box made of alabaster for putting ointments in rather than the material it's made of. Also the whole phrase in the Greek is in the accusative although the sentence doesn't have a subject.

"The origin of the word alabaster is in Middle English, through Old French alabastre, in turn derived from the Latin alabaster and that from Greek ἀλάβαστρος (alabastros) or ἀλάβαστος (alabastos). The latter was a term used to identify a vase made of alabaster. This name may derive further from the Ancient Egyptian word a-labaste, which refers to vessels of the Egyptian goddess Bast. She was represented as a lioness and frequently depicted as such in figures placed atop these alabaster vessels. Other suggestions include derivation from the town of Alabastron in Egypt."
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabaster )

Maybe we could persuade Jenny Rampling to include the Authentic Memoirs in the SHAC Sources of Chemistry series? I agree we need an English translation. The French have two :?

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 Posted: Sat May 17th, 2014 12:45 pm
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Ah, but it says in Mertens,  "Prenant donc la pierre d'albatre, grillez un jour et une nuit: vous obtenez de la chaux" which is about burning it for a day and a night (no mention of temperature though, you certainly don't need a day and night if you have a good enough furnace, but thats an interesting question by itself)


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