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June 2006
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Subject: ACADEMY: New book on alchemy
From: Jean-Yves Artero
Date: 12 June 2006

Jacob Wamberg, Professor of Art History at the University of Aarhus,
Denmark, just published a collection of essays entitled:

Art & Alchemy (Museum Tusculanum Press, 2006, ISBN 87-635-0267-4).

Here is an excerpt of the contents:

Askel Haaning, The philosophical nature or eraly Western alchemy:
the formative period c. 1150-1350,

Sally Metzler, Artists, alchemists and mannerists in courtly Prague,

Peter Forshaw, Alchemy in the Amphitheatre: some considerations
of the alchemical content of the engravings in Heinrich Khunrath's
Amphitheatre of eternal wisdom (1609),

Lloyd DeWitt and Laurence M. Principe, Alchemy and its images
in the Eddlemann and Fisher collections at the Chemical Heritage

Jane Russell Corbett, Convention and change in seventeenth century
depictions of alchemists.

Truly yours,


Subject: ACADEMY: New book on alchemy
From: Michal Pober
Date: 12 June 2006

I would like to commend to your attention a newly published book
in the Weiser Concise Guide Series:

ALCHEMY: A Guide to Its Theory and Practice
by Brian Cotnoir
First published in 2006 by Red Wheel/Weiser, llc York Beach, ME

In just 124 small, succinct and profusely illustrated pages Brian,
who has been studying alchemy for 30 years, lays out clearly
precisely and systematically the principles and practice of Alchemy.
The information is concrete, precise and specific; it is simultaneously
a practical manual, an inspirational tract and a page-turner.
Compelling reading for anyone interested in Alchemy, it also comes
with recommendations from Adam McLean and Stanislas Klossowski
de Rola.

With best regards,

Michal Pober

Subject: ACADEMY: An Esoteric Quest in Central Europe
From: Michal Pober
Date: 12 June 2006

Dear Academy,

I would like to commend to your attention a Conference taking place
in the Czech Lands and in Weimar from 31st August - 8th September.
Entitled "An Esoteric Quest in Central Europe - From Renaissance
Bohemia to Goethe's Weimar", it is organised by the New York Open
Center and Co-sponsored with the Alchemy Museum in Kutna Hora
and the Lumen Foundation.

It is the third in a series of conferences in the Czech Lands; the
first took place in Cesky Krumlov in 1995, the second in Prague in 1997.

This is a peripatetic event, starting in Kutna Hora with many
Alchemical topics, followed by a sojourn at an active Monastery
near Marianske Lazne [Marienbad] where we will pick up the trail
of Goethe and his many sojourns in Bohemia and follow him to Weimar.

Included in the programme are many stellar presenters, International
and Czech, including some members of this Academy, plus Music,
Poetry and an opportunity to "take the waters" at Marienbad.

Full information can be found at:

Clicking on "An Esoteric Quest" accesses a full programme in
PDF format which can be viewed on-line or downloaded.

All registration is being conducted through the Open Center who
can also be contacted by phone or e-mail:
Andrea Lomanto at 1-212 219 2527 x 101 or

I would also be happy to respond personally to any questions
regarding the Conference and hope to meet some of you there!

With best regards,

Michal Pober

Subject: ACADEMY: Diocletian's Edict against alchemy
From: Farshid Kazemi
Date: 21 June 2006

Dear Adam,

As far as I know this is first mentioned by Gibbon in his 'The Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire'. This is what Gibbon says:

He supresses books of alchymy.
He caused a diligent inquiry to be made "for all the ancient books which
treated of the admirable art of making gold and silver, and without pity
committed them to the flames; apprehensive, as we are assured, lest the
opulence of the Egyptians should inspire them with confidence to rebel
against the empire." But if Diocletian had been convinced of the
reality of that valuable art, far from extinguishing the memory, he
would have converted the operation of it to the benefit of the public
revenue. It is much more likely that his good sense discovered to him the
folly of such magnificent pretensions, and that he was desirous of
preserving the reason and fortunes of his subjects from the mischievous pursuit.

Gibbon in his footnote gives this as his source: John Antioch. in Excerp.
Valesian, p. 834. Suidas in Diocletian

As you may very well know there are four people with that name, though I
would imagine it is likely to be John of Antioch the chronicler.

One of the astute friends on this list long ago had made a mention of it in one
of their threads. I will paste that here below:


Thu Mar 07 09:17:04 1996
Subject: 0402 alchemy and heresy
From: Vic Stevens

Christians weren't the first to attempt legislating alchemy out of existence.
Diocletian, the Roman emperor from AD 284-305, known as a great
[conservative] reformer, and, ironically, the last 'great' persecutor of the
Christians, had a stab at ridding the world of alchemists.

Following is footnote 12, p 117, from "A Study of Chinese Alchemy",
by Obed S. Johnson, 1928.

"The report that Greeks in Egypt were practicing alchemy, received official
notice in the year 290 of our era, when the emperor Diocletian issued an
edict commanding that diligent inquiry should be made "for all the ancient
books which treated of the admirable art of making gold and silver," and
that, without pity, such books should be committed to the flames."
Cf. Gibbon, E.: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire, vol. I, pp. 427, 428., Cf. Encyclopedia Britannica,
eleventh edition, vol. I, p. 519. (end of footnote).

This quote has been taken out of context, I don't know the impetus behind
Diocletian's edict. What I do know of Diocletian's reign, his attempt at
snuffing alchemy may have been aligned with his financial reforms, including
taxation, and wage and price fixing -- an attempt at staving off inflation
that was later revoked.


With kind regards,

Farshid Kazemi

Subject: ACADEMY: Diocletian's Edict against alchemy
From: Rafal T. Prinke
Date: 21 June 2006

Adam McLean wrote:

>Regarding the story that Diocletian in 290 A.D. gave an edict
>that the ancient books of Chemia dealing with gold and silver
>should be burnt, I would like some references.

It seems the reference is Suidas (a Byzantine lexicographer),
the relevant fragment being quoted by Hopkins, _Alchemy -
Child of Greek Philosophy_, Appendix II, p. 246. In a footnote
on p. 9 he gives 3 references "concerning the reliability of
this story" (Lippman, Berthelot and Hammer-Jensen).
Interestingly, Hopkins dates the "decree" to the year 292,
while Multhauf in _Origins..._ says the decree "was issued"
in 296 (p. 103).

Best regards,

Subject: ACADEMY: Diocletian's Edict against alchemy
From: Ross Sinclair Caldwell
Date: 21 June 2006

Rafal T. Prinke wrote

> It seems the reference is Suidas (a Byzantine lexicographer),
>the relevant fragment being quoted by Hopkins, _Alchemy -
>Child of Greek Philosophy_, Appendix II, p. 246.

The Suda is on-line with original text, translations and notes at
"Suda On Line: Byzantine Lexicography"

The reference to Diocletian's edict concerning the "XHMEIA" is there:
the URL is too long to post, but put "Diocletian" in the "look for"
field brings it up as the fifth entry.

The Greek font may prove uncooperative, and you may need to
download one (provided by them).

Ross G.R. Caldwell

Subject: ACADEMY: Diocletian's Edict against alchemy
From: Mark Clarke
Date: 26 June 2006

Chronicled in John of Antioch's life of Constantine Porphyrogenitus
(seventh century). The original Greek quotation is reproduced in
Berthelot (1885) p. 72 n.3. It is confirmed by Suidas, Zosimas, and
others, and similar destruction is described among the acts of
St Procopius (Brehaut (1912) pp. 5054). "He also sought out the
books written by the ancients on the chemistry of gold and silver
and consigned to them to the flames so that there should no longer
be any wealth arising from among the Egyptians from such crafysmanship..."
[Hunt 1976 p.30, citing the Suidas Lexicon, Ada Adler (ed.),
Leipzig, 1931, vol. II p.104] See, for the background to this,
Hunt 1976 pp. 27ff.

Berthelot, M. (1885) Les Origines de l'Alchimie, Paris: Georges Steinheil.
Brehaut, E. (1912) 'An Encyclopedist of the Dark Ages: Isidore of
Seville', Studies in History Economics and Public Law48, 1274.
Hunt, L. (1976) "The oldest metallurgical handbook: recipes of a
fourth century goldsmith" Gold Bulletin 9 pp. 24-31, [discusses ms. 1340]

I have not personally seen the Adler 1931 edition.

Mark Clarke

Subject: ACADEMY: Gold Bulletin - Some articles on gold
From: Adam McLean
Date: 27 June 2006

In following up a reference in Mark Clarke's recent posting,
I came across a small cache of interesting articles on gold,
prviously published in the Gold Bulletin, and which are now
online. The Kauffman articles are well known, but there are
others of relevance to alchemy.

Gold Metallurgy in the Twelfth Century

Gold Technology in Ancient Egypt

Gold and the Atomic Theories of the Seventeenth Century

Ancient Egyptian Gold Refining

Bartholomaeus Anglicus on Gold

The Gold Metallurgy of Issac Newton

The True Story of Purple of Cassius

Gold in Medicine

Assaying in Antiquity

The Role of Gold in Alchemy, Part I

The Role of Gold in Alchemy, Part II

The Role of Gold in Alchemy, Part III

August Strindberg, Goldmaker

Gold Powder: Its Preparation and Application as Described in Ancient Sanskrit Texts

Corinthian Bronze and the Gold of the Alchemists

China's Ancient Gold Drugs