|Modern chemistry did not
emerge until the 18th century but it has to be admitted that applied,
or technical, chemistry is timeless and has prehistoric roots.
Once fire was controlled, the inevitable cooking science of gastronomy can
be argued to be the first science. Evidence exists that copper was
being smelted in the Chalcolithic and early Bronze ages (2200 to 700 BC)
in Britain and Europe. This was followed by the metallurgical
arts, the making of pottery, paints and perfumes. There is evidence
of these in the recorded writings of the Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations.
The seven basic metals gave their names to the days of the week. Au,
Ag, Fe, Hg, Sn, Cu and Pb were all known to ancient peoples because they
either occur naturally in the free state or can easily be isolated from minerals
that contain them. For the same reason sulphur (brimstone) and carbon
(charcoal) were widely known and used, as were the pigments, orpiment and
stibnite (sulphides of arsenic and antimony), salt and alum (potassium aluminum
sulphate) which was used as a mordant for vegetable dyes and as an astringent.
The ancient associations of metals and the heavens.
|Pre-Socratic philosophers of the 6th century BC conjectured that the everyday substances of this material world were generated from some one primary matter. Both Plato (527-347 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC) both wrote of this prime matter as a featureless quality-less stuff, rather like potter's clay onto which the various qualities and properties of hotness, coldness, dryness and moistness could be impressed to form the four elements that Empedocles (430 BC) postulated.||