First Advisor

Richard Beyler

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in History and University Honors




Alchemy -- History, Medieval science, Pseudoscience




Alchemy is one of the longest lived ideas and practices in intellectual history and one of the most habitually misunderstood. Until the 1950's historians of science considered alchemy to be pseudoscience or a facet of magic. Since then historians of alchemy have produced a considerable body of work that is mostly concerned with making corrections and establishing the scientific character of alchemy. Alchemists made significant contributions to chemistry, theology, and medicine. Alchemy itself influenced art, literature, and pop culture. The current literature on alchemy lacks one component, a study of the source of alchemy’s association with magic and relegation to pseudoscience. This research endeavors to contribute to the growing body of research on the history of alchemy by addressing this void. This research concludes that alchemy’s association with the supernatural and pseudoscientific occurred during the process of its translation and transmission from Latin to Arabic in the high medieval period.


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