Bibliography B: Alchemy etc.


POISSON, A.: Théories et symboles des alchimistes; le grand-œuvre (Paris 1891).

An explanation of alchemical terminology and symbolism, and a study of the basic premises of alchemical work, with bibliography.

READ, John : Prelude to Chemistry, an outline of alchemy, its literature and relationships (London 1936).

A wide-ranging study of practical alchemy.

TAYLOR, F.S.: The Alchemists, founders of modern chemistry (London 1951).

He takes a sound historical perspective on the subject.

ANIANE, Maurice : Notes sur l’alchimie, ‘yoga’ cosmologique de la chrétienté médiévale;

IN : MASUI, J.(éd.): Yoga, science de l’homme intégral (Paris 1953) pp.243-273.

His thoughts on spiritual alchemy.

ALLEAU, René : Aspects de l’alchimie traditionnelle (Paris 1953).

A consommé of interesting observations, flavoursome but insubstantial.

HOLMYARD, E. John : Alchemy (Harmondsworth, Middlesex 1957).

An historical survey of practical alchemy.

SHEPPARD, H.J.: Colour Symbolism in the Alchemical Work;

IN : Scientia, vol.99 (Asso, Como 1964) pp.232-236.

Thoughts on what different colours at different stages may signify.

MULTHAUF, Robert P.: The Origins of Chemistry (London 1966).

A comprehensive and judicious history from antiquity to the 17th century.

BURCKHARDT, Titus (tr. STODDART, W.): Alchemy, science of the cosmos, science of the soul (London 1967).

This work is full of understanding and gives a thoughtful perspective on the metaphysical and spiritual interpretations of alchemy, with a short bibliography.

ELIADE, M. (tr. CORRIN, S.): The Forge and the Crucible (New York 1971).

It looks at the prehistory of alchemy, as well as at its Chinese, Indian and Western forms (with a bibliography).

MERKUR, Daniel : The Study of Spiritual Alchemy, Mysticism, Gold-making and Esoteric Hermeneutics;

IN : Ambix, vol.37 (Cambridge 1990) pp.35-45.

A survey of attitudes to alchemy in the last two centuries.

LINDEN, Stanton J. (ed.): The Alchemy Reader: from Hermes Trismegistus to Isaac Newton (Cambridge 2003).

This collection of English translations, – mainly of late classical Greek, or late medieval Latin, alchemical works, – has helpful introductory notes and a bibliography.



BERTHELOT, Marcellin Pierre : La Chimie au Moyen Age (Paris 1893) 3 vols.

Vol.1 is interested in Latin alchemy, and vol.2 (with the help of R. Duval) in Syrian alchemy.  Volume 3, written with O. Houdas, has Arabic texts and French translations of the books of Krates, al-Habīb and Ostanes, and the following books, ascribed to Jābir, of: Royalty, Mercy, Balances, Concentration, and Eastern and Western Mercury, plus the Little Book of Mercy and some other extracts.

STAPLETON, H. & AZO, R.: Alchemical Equipment in the 11th Century A.D.;

IN : Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol.1 (Calcutta 1905-07) pp.47-70.

English translation of a Persian description, from the ‘Ainu-s-San‘ah.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: Arabic Chemistry;

IN : Science Progress, new ser., vol.17 (London 1922-23) pp.252-261.

His introduction to Arabic practical chemistry includes an English translation of part of Jābir’s Book of Properties.

STAPLETON, H.E. & AZO, R.F. & HUSAIN, M.H.: Chemistry in ‘Irāq and Persia in the Tenth Century A.D.;

IN : Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol.8 (Calcutta 1922-29) pp.315-417.

Arabic texts and English translations of extracts from the writings of al-Rāzī, and al-Khwarizmī, with a study of al-Rāzī’s life, works, sources and methods.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: An Alchemical Tract ascribed to Mary the Copt;

IN : Archeion, Archivio di storia della scienza, vol.8 (Roma 1927) pp.161-167.

English translation of a very short Arabic work.

FŰCK, J.W.: The Arabic Literature on Alchemy according to An-Nadīm;

IN : Ambix, vol.4 (London 1949-51) pp.81-144.

English translation, with study, of the discourse on alchemy in the Fihrist.

CORBIN, H.: Le “Livre du Glorieux” de Jābir ibn Hayyān;

IN : Eranos-Jahrbuch, vol.18 (Zűrich 1950) pp.47-114.

A French translation, with a commentary, of an obscure Jābirian, probably Ismā‘īlī book, which is hardly alchemical.

RYDING, Karin C.: Islamic Alchemy according to al-Khwarizmi;

IN : Ambix, vol.41 (Cambridge 1994) pp.121-134.

A new English translation of the chapter on alchemy in al-Khwarizmī.



BLOCHET, E.: Etudes sur le gnosticisme musulman:

IN : Rivista degli studi orientali, vol.2 (Roma 1908-9) pp.717-756; vol.3 (1910) pp.177-203; & vol.4 ( 1911-12) pp.47-79 + pp. 267-300.

Harranian, Egyptian and Persian influences on Hermetic developments.

STAPLETON, H.E. & AZO, R.F.: An Alchemical Compilation of the 13th Century A.D.;

IN : Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol.3 (Calcutta 1910-14) no.2 (= pp.57-94).

The texts, with an English introduction, of Arabic alchemical works.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: Arabic Chemistry;

IN : Nature, vol.110 (London July-Dec.1922) pp.573-574.

Short notes on al-Jildakī, Morienus, Abu’l-Qāsim and Ibn Umail.

RUSKA, J.: Die Alchemie des Avicenna;

IN : Isis, vol.21 (Brugge 1934) pp.14-51.

Pseudo-Avicennan works in Arabic and Latin.

HEYM, G.: Al-Rāzī and Alchemy;

IN : Ambix, vol.1 (London 1937-38) pp.184-191.

An introduction to Islam’s most famous practical alchemist.

MADKOUR, Ibrahim : Avicenne et l’alchimie;

IN : Millénaire d’Avicenne = Revue du Caire, vol.27, no.141 (Cairo 1951) pp.120-9.

Ibn Sīnā’s objections to alchemy.

STAPLETON, H.E.: The Antiquity of Alchemy;

IN : Ambix, vol.5 (1953-56) pp.1-43.

Connections between Persia, Harrān and Jābirian alchemy.

PLESSNER, M.: Hermes Trismegistus and Arab Science;

IN : Studia Islamica, vol.2 (Paris 1954) pp.45-59.

Arabic accounts of Hermes and a preliminary inspection of Arabic Hermetica.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: Alchemy in Medieval Islam;

IN : Endeavour, vol.14 (London 1955) pp.117-125.

A short notice on each important figure, with a lengthier notice on Jābir.

HAMARNEH, Sami K.: Arabic – Islamic Alchemy – Three Intertwined Stages;

IN: Ambix, vol.29 (Cambridge 1982) pp.74-87.

His three stages are: 1. Attempts to transmute metals; 2. Retreat into religious metaphor, on the failure of such transmutation; 3. Iatrochemistry, in which elixirs are sought in drugs rather than stones (his examples here come from the 17th century).

FERRARIO, Gabriele : An Arabic Dictionary of Technical Terms: MS Sprenger 1908 of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (fols.3r – 6r);

IN: Ambix, vol.56 (Leeds 2009) pp.36-48.

He deals with the dating and ascription of the Arabic original of the Latin Liber de Aluminibus et Salibus and gives the dictionary’s lists of the many Arabic alchemical terms for gold, silver, mercury and sulphur.



HOLMYARD, E.J.: The Identity of Geber;

IN : Nature, vol.111 (CXI) (London Jan.-June 1923) pp.191-193.

That Latin Geber is Arabic Jābir, who may, however, be several people.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: The Present Position of the Geber Problem;

IN : Science Progress (in the Twentieth Century), new ser., vol.19 (London 1924-25) pp.415-426.

More information on Jābir, Ja‘far and Islamic alchemy’s early development.

RUSKA, J.: The History of the Jābir Problem;

IN : Islamic Culture, vol.11 (XI) (Hyderabad 1937) pp.303-312.

That many of the Arabic works attributed to Jābir were written by others; and that some of the Geber works were not translations but original Latin works.

KRAUS, P.: Les dignitaires de la hiérarchie religieuse selon Gābir ibn Hayyān;

IN : Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, vol.41 (Cairo 1942) pp.83-97.

A commentary on the 55 celestial figures in the Kitāb al-hamsīn.

KRAUS, Paul : Jābir ibn Hayyān, contribution à l’histoire des idées scientifiques dans l’Islam (Mémoires de l’Institut d’Egypte, nos. 44-45) (Cairo 1942-43).

Vol. 1 gives brief notes on the contents of all known Jābirian works (with bibliog.); vol. 2 deals with the possible Greek sources for their scientific knowledge.

(Please note that vol.2 was published in 1942; and that vol.1 was published in the following year, 1943.)

KARPENKO, Vladimír : Between Magic and Science: Numerical Magic Squares;

IN : Ambix, vol.40 (Cambridge 1993) pp.121-128.

A brief look at their use in Arabic (particularly Jābirian) and Latin works.



HOLMYARD, E.J.: Maslama al-Majrītī and the Rutbatu’l-Hakīm;

IN : Isis, vol.6 (Brussel/Bruxelles 1924) pp.293-305.

The book’s contents, and the question of its date and authorship.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: Abu’l-Qāsim al-Irāqī;

IN : Isis, vol.8 (Brussel/Bruxelles 1926) pp.403-426.

Information about a 13th-century alchemist.

STAPLETON, H.E. & HUSAIN, M.H. : Arabic Source of Zadith’s “Tabula Chemica”;

IN : Nature, vol.127 (London Jan-June 1931) p.926.

They reveal that the Tabula Chemica and the Letter of the Sun to the Crescent Moon are translations from the work of Ibn Umail.

STAPLETON, H.E. & HUSAIN, M.H. & TURĀB ‘ALĪ, M.: Three Arabic Treatises on Alchemy by Muhammad bin Umail (10th century A.D.);

IN : Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol.12 (Calcutta 1933) no.1, pp.1-213.

This article contains the Arabic text of the Mā’ al-Waraqī, the Latin text of its (partial) translation, the Tabula Chemica, extracts translated into English from it, as well as the Arabic text of the Qasīdat al-Nūnīyah, and a study of Ibn Umail’s writings.

STAPLETON, H.E. & LEWIS, G.L. & TAYLOR, F.S. : The Sayings of Hermes quoted in the Mā’al-Waraqī of Ibn Umail;

IN : Ambix, vol.3 (London 1948-49) pp.69-90.

Extracts translated into English and compared to Greek Hermetic writings.

MOUREAU, Sébastien : Some Considerations concerning the Alchemy of the De anima in arte alchemiae of Pseudo-Avicenna;

IN : Ambix, vol.56 (Leeds 2009) pp.49-56.

He provides a probable dating and provenance for its Arabic original – in the Andalus  in the 12th century C.E. – and an approximate date for its Latin translation (between 1226 and 1235) and a summary of its content.



KARPINSKI, Louis C.: Robert of Chester’s Latin Translation of the Algebra of Al-Khowarizmi (University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, vol.XI, Contributions to the History of Science, no.1) (New York 1915).

The Arabic text and an English translation, with an introduction to Robert.

THORNDIKE, Lynn : History of Magic and Experimental Science during the first 13 centuries of our era (New York 1923) 2 vols.

Vol.1: up to 11th century; vol.2: 12th & 13th centuries.  The author’s taste for interesting information and picturesque detail makes this a refreshing read (+bibliog.).

STEELE, Robert : Practical Chemistry in the XIIth Century;

IN : Isis, vol.12 (Brugge 1929) pp.10-46.

He gives the Latin text, with an English introduction, of the De Aluminibus et Salibus, attributed to Rhazes (al-Rāzī), one of the earliest alchemical works translated into Latin.  His article contains a useful Latin-English alchemical vocabulary list.

GANZENMŰLLER, W. (tr. PETIT-DUTAILLIS, G.): L’alchimie au moyen-âge (Paris 1947?).

Interesting, but devoid of references (with bibliography).

GANZENMŰLLER, W.: Eine alchemistische Handschrift aus der zweiten Hälfte des 12. Jahrhunderts;

IN : Sudhoffs Archiv fűr Geschichte der Medizin und der Naturwissenschaften, vol.39 (Wiesbaden 1955) pp.43-52.

Latin text, with German translation, of the Alchamia.

DODWELL, C.R. (ed. & tr.): THEOPHILUS: De Diversis Artibus: The Various Arts (Edinburgh 1961).

The Latin text, with an English translation and commentary (+ bibliography).

MONOD-HERZEN, G.E.: L’alchimie méditerranéenne, ses origines et son but (Paris 1962).

A general history of alchemy, with a particular history of the Emerald Table.

BURNETT, Charles : The astrologer’s assay of the alchemist: early references to alchemy in Arabic and Latin texts;

IN : Ambix, vol.39 (Cambridge 1992) pp.103-109.

The occurrence of the term ‘alchemy’ in 12th-century astrological texts.

ABRAHAM, Lyndy : A Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery (Cambridge 1998).

A useful reference work, which gives definitions and illustrations of alchemical terms, with a long but unclassified bibliography.

VINCIGUERRA, Antony : The Ars alchemie: the First Latin Text on Practical Alchemy;

IN : Ambix, vol.56 (Leeds 2009) pp.57-67.

This is the study of a 13th-century work, which is thought to be the first Latin alchemical text that is not a translation from Arabic.



NAU, F.: Une ancienne traduction latine du Bélinous arabe (Apollonius de Tyana):

IN : Revue de l’Orient Chrétien, sér.2, vol.2 (Paris 1907) pp.99-106.

A description of the Liber de Secretis Naturae, translated by Hugo Sanctallensis, and the Latin text of his version of the Emerald Table.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: The Emerald Table;

IN : Nature, vol.112 (London July-Dec.1923) pp.525-6.

An early Arabic version of part of the Emerald Table, translated into English.

RUSKA, Julius F.: Tabula Smaragdina, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der hermetischen Literatur (Heidelberg 1926).

The medieval history of this work, its versions and its Hermetic background.

SINGER, Dorothy W. & STEELE, Robert : The Emerald Table;

IN : Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, vol.21 (London 1927-28) part 1, pp.485-501.

Latin text, with an English introduction, of the Liber Hermetis de Alchimia (or: de Arte Alkimiae) which contains a version of the Emerald Table.



RUSKA, Julius : Arabische Alchemisten 1. Chālid ibn Jazīd ibn Mu‘āwija (Heidelberger Akten der Von-Portheim Stiftung, no.6: Arbeiten aus dem Institut fűr Geschichte der Naturwissenschaft, no.1) (Heidelberg 1924).

Khālid in history, legend and literature, with a particular study of the Liber de Compositione Alchymiae.

HOLMYARD, E.J.: A Romance of Chemistry;

IN : Chemistry and Industry Review, vol.3, being part of the Journal of the Society of Chemical Industry, vol.44 (London 1925) pp.75-77, pp.105-108, pp.136-137, pp.272-276, pp.300-301, & pp.327-328.

A serialised edition of a 17th-century English translation of the Liber de Compositione Alchymiae.

STAVENHAGEN, Lee : The Original Text of the Latin Morienus;

IN : Ambix, vol.17 (Cambridge 1970) pp.1-12.

A textual study of the De Compositione Alchymiae manuscripts.

STAVENHAGEN, Lee : A Testament of Alchemy, being the revelations of Morienus, ancient adept and hermit of Jerusalem to Khalid ibn Yazid ibn Mu‘awiyya, King of the Arabs, of the divine secrets of the magisterium and accomplishment of the alchemical art (Hanover, New Hampshire 1974).

The Latin text, based on the best early versions, an English translation and a commentary, detailing all the problems of provenance, dating and variation.



RUSKA, Julius F.: Turba Philosophorum, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Alchemie (Berlin 1931).

A thorough history of the work and a German translation.

PLESSNER, M.: The Place of the Turba Philosophorum in the Development of Alchemy;

IN : Isis, vol.45 (Cambridge, Mass. 1954) pp.331-338.

New light on the dating and purpose of the original Arabic version.

WAITE, A.E. (tr.): Turba Philosophorum (London 1970).

This English translation was originally published in 1896.



COMFORT, W.W. (tr.): CHRÉTIEN de TROYES: Arthurian Romances (London 1914).

An English translation of Erec et Enide, Cligés, Yvain and Lancelot.

TOPSFIELD, L.T.: Chrétien de Troyes: a study of the Arthurian romances (Cambridge 1981).

An illuminating study of all of his romances, their literary merit and their deeper moral significance (with bibliography).

POLAK, Lucie: Chrétien de Troyes: Cligés (Critical Guides to French Texts, no.23) (London 1982).

A study of the background, contents and quality of the book (+ bibliography).

DUBOST, Francis: Le Chevalier au Lion: une ‘conjointure’ signifiante;

IN ; Le Moyen Age: Revue d’Histoire et de Philologie, vol.90 (Bruxelles 1984) pp.195-222.

From an analysis of the structure of the romance, the writer sees many pairings of opposites and concludes that the lion has to play an interestingly feminised role.

HUNT, Tony: Chrétien de Troyes: Yvain (Le Chevalier au Lion) (Critical Guides to French Texts, no.55) (London 1986).

A study of the background, techniques and meanings of this story (+ bibliog.).

KIBLER, William W. (tr.): CHRÉTIEN DE TROYES: Arthurian Romances (London 1991).

English translations of all five romances, including the Perceval, with introduction and bibliography.  The Erec et Enide was translated by C.W.Carroll.

LUTTRELL, Claude & GREGORY, Stewart (ed.): CHRÉTIEN de TROYES: Cligés (Arthurian Studies, no.28) (Cambridge 1993).

The Old French text, with introduction, notes, glossaries and bibliography.



MACRAY, W.D.: Catalogus Codicum MSS Bibliothecae Bodleianae 9: Catalogus Codicum MSS Kenelmi Digby (Oxford 1883).

HASKINS, C.H.: Studies in the History of Medieval Science (2nd edition: Cambridge, Mass. 1927).

SARTON, G.: Introduction to the History of Science (Baltimore 1927-1948).

Bibliothèque Nationale: Catalogue général des manuscrits latins, vol.3 (nos. 2693-3013A) & vol.4 (nos.3014-3277).

KRISTELLER, P.O. (ed.): Catalogus translationum et commentariorum: Medieval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries, vol.1 (Washington, D.C. 1960).

DAUZAT, A. & ROSTAING, C. : Dictionnaire étymologique des noms de lieu en France (Paris 1963). 


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