Alchemical laboratory tools in the old pharmacies

Apothecary laboratories included a series of instruments and containers that any alchemist would have easily recognized, especially the alembic, retorts and crucibles. Many of the processes were also similar: distillation, fermentation, separation, calcination etc.
Alembic – distillation still consisting of three parts:
-        the cucurbit, a heated pot that contains the liquid to be distilled
-        the ambic, covering the cucurbit like a cap, collecting the vapors and leading them down a descending tube
-        the receiver, holding the condensed distilled liquid
The term comes from Arab (al-anbī), a borrowing from Greek (ambix), meaning cup, beaker. 

Depiction of an alembic in a medieval manuscript

Retorts were also used for distillation and they had the cucurbit and the ambic joined into a single piece. Retorts are in fact spherical bowls with a very long, descending neck.
Retort and receiver

Crucibles are small containers made of metal or refractory materials in which various substances were heating to high temperatures. The term comes from Latin, where crucibulum designated a pot used for melting metal.
Lot of crucibles discovered in the alchemical lab from the Oberstockstall Castle in Austria
Discover more about the links between alchemy, iatrochemistry and pharmacy visiting the "Pharmacy and Alchemy" temporary exhibition on display until the end of 2017 in Cluj-Napoca, at the History of Pharmacy Collection, part of the National History Museum of Transylvania.
Join the Facebook event HERE.

Alembic and retort in the reconstructed laboratory of the History of Pharmacy Collection in Cluj-Napoca

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