Over the centuries, the evolution of alchemy has seen the overlapping of concepts that have paved the way for modern science. However, science has shown mystical and esoteric connotations for a long time, to the point that even alchemical processes and symbols would acquire abstruse and pretentious meanings, often without any connection with the purely chemical and physical processes. In this second edition, the volume is enriched with contents and images. It introduces the reader to the history of alchemy and its developments over the centuries, starting from the research of Chinese and Indian wisemen and of the first colonizers of Mesopotamia, to continue with the school of Alexandria and the innovative theories of the Ionian philosophers. Moreover, the volume illustrates in detail the birth of the concept of atom - which is at the basis of the conception of matter of the Magna Graecia's philosophers - and the subsequent philosophical vision of the world and of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle. The narration goes further with a broad description of the various contributions to the development of alchemy by Arab and Muslim alchemists, Scholastics and Humanists of the Middle Ages, encyclopaedia writers, modern alchemists, up to the contribution of the last imitators of the “Great Work”, which were active in Europe and especially in the United States and Latin America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
University of Florence, Italy