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 liquidThe term comes from Arab (al-anbīḳ), 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.