From an early period the Egyptians possessed thereputation of being skillful workers in metals and, according to Greekwriters, they were conversant with their transmutation, employingquicksilver in the process of separating gold and silver from the nativematrix. The resulting oxide was supposed to possess marvelous powers,and it was thought that there resided within in the individualities ofthe various metals, that in it their various substances wereincorporated. This black powder was mystically identified with theunderworld form of the god Osiris, and consequently was credited withmagical properties. Thus there grew up in Egypt the belief thatmagical powers existed in fluxes and alloys. Probably such a beliefexisted throughout Europe in connection with the bronze-working castesof its several races. Its was probably in the Byzantium of the fourthcentury, however, that alchemical science received embryonic form. There is little doubt that Egyptian tradition, filtering throughAlexandrian Hellenic sources was the foundation upon which the infantscience was built, and this is borne out by the circumstance that theart was attributed to Hermes Trismegistus and supposed to be containedin its entirety in his works. The Arabs, after their conquest of Egypt in the seventh century,carried on the researches of the Alexandrian school, and through theirinstrumentality the art was brought to Morocco and thus in the eighthcentury to Spain, where it flourished exceedingly. Indeed, Spain fromthe ninth to the eleventh century became the repository of alchemicscience, and the colleges of Seville, Cordova and Granada were thecenters from which this science radiated throughout Europe. The first practical alchemist may be said to have been the ArbianGeber, who flourished 720-750. From his "Summa Perfectionis", we may bejustified in assuming that alchemical science was already matured in hisday, and that he drew his inspirations from a still older unbroken lineof adepts. He was followed by Avicenna, Mesna and Rhasis, and in Franceby Alain of Lisle, Arnold de Villanova and Jean de Meung the troubadour;in England by Roger Bacon and in Spain itself by Raymond Lully. Later,in French alchemy the most illustrious names are those of Flamel (b. ca.1330), and Bernard Trevisan (b. ca. 1460) after which the center of ofinterest changes to Germany and in some measure to England, in whichcountries Paracelsus, Khunrath (ca. 1550), Maier (ca. 1568), Norton,Dalton, Charnock, and Fludd kept the alchemical flame burning brightly. It is surprising how little alteration we find throughout the periodbetween the seventh and the seventeenth centuries, the heyday ofalchemy, in the theory and practice of the art. The same sentiments andprocesses are found expressed in the later alchemical authorities as inthe earliest, and a wonderful unanimity as regards the basic canons ofthe great art is evinced by the hermetic students of the time. On theintroduction of chemistry as a practical art, alchemical science fellinto desuetude and disrepute, owing chiefly to the number of charlatanspracticing it, and by the beginning of the eighteenth century, as aschool, it may be said to have become defunct. Here and there, however,a solitary student of the art lingered, and in the department of thisarticle "Modern Alchemy" will demonstrate that the science has to agrate extent revived during modern times, although it has never beenquite extinct.