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Ok, I lied!

Bristol doesn't really run a course in alchemy. If thats what your after, check out my links! This webpage was constructed as part of a competition on chemistry webpages, run by the chemistry department each year.

Aside from the competition, the main purpose of this site is an introduction for those who don't know much about alchemy, but it may also serve as a starting point for those interested in finding out more about the subject, and an experienced alchemist might just find out something here they didn't know!

The best feature of this site is the interactive Virtual Alchemy Workshop. You will need Flash Media Player to use this, and it may take 3-4 minutes to download (it's about 1 Meg), but its well worth the wait.

Never fear though, I have built a normal html version of the site so if you can't wait, you can dip straight into the wonderful world of alchemy...

Read on, or if you can see the animation below you can visit the Flash Site.

So tell us, what is alchemy then?

Well, many have heard tales of the alchemists who attempt to turn lead into gold. This is true, but it is one of many facets of diverse and fascinating art.

Alchemy was the forerunner to chemistry and in the manipulation of materials, alchemists developed many of the basic techniques used in chemistry and metallurgy today. Much work in alchemy revolved around the search for the elixir of life, and in the process advances in medicine were made.

Alchemy is also highly spiritual. Indeed the alchemist sees very little distinction between the purification and perfection of materials he performs in his laboratory, and that of his own mind body and soul. The alchemist searches for the elixir which will give eternal life, not just externally, but internally. The spirit may leave the body and live on in the afterlife, thus the alchemist becomes immortal. Naturally, alchemists tend to be highly spiritual.

There is a multicultural aspect to alchemy. As we know it, alchemy was developed in the near east first in Egypt, Greece and Arabia before it found its way to Europe. However at the same time and independently, the people of ancient China and India were developing their own alchemy. Despite their separation by culture all these forms of alchemy shared similar attributes; metals being used in preparations to aid the body, the pursuit of the transmutation of metal into gold, and a highly spiritual side, linked closely with the manipulation of materials.