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Lead and Tin in Arabic Alchemy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 May 2002

Bassam I. El-Eswed
P.O. Box 520626, Amman 11152, Jordan


The present article is devoted to two issues. The first is the identification of lead and tin in medieval Arabic alchemy. The second is the investigation of whether Arabic alchemists differentiate between these problematic substances or not. These two issues are investigated in the light of a comparison which is made between the facts that are stated about the two problematic substances in the original Arabic alchemical works and those stated in modern chemical literature. It is proved that Arabic alchemists made a sharp distinction between lead and tin. Also, it becomes clear that these two metals were used in a satisfactory purity in the era of medieval Arabic alchemy. As a consequence of the present study, some conclusions are drawn about the existence of some categories of ‘derivatives’ of fusible bodies in Arabic alchemy which are degenerate to modern categories of oxides, carbonates, etc.

Research Article
© 2002 Cambridge University Press

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