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Alchemical Symbols of the Elements

Alphabetical Index

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Gold - Alchemical Symbol

Gold - Alchemical Symbol

Todd Helmenstine
The word alchemy comes from the Arabian al-kimia, referring to the preparation of 'Elixir' or the 'Stone' by the Egyptians. The Arabic kimia, in turn, comes from the Coptic khem, which referred to the fertile black Nile delta soil and also to the dark mystery of the primordial First Matter (the Khem). Do you recognize the origin of the word 'chemistry'?

Although single symbols are presented here, there were often many symbols for an element. For a time, the astronomical symbols of the planets were used to denote the elements. However, as alchemists came to be persecuted, particularly in medieval times, secret symbols were invented. This led to a great deal of confusion, so you will find some overlap of symbols. The symbols were in common use through the 17th century; some are still in use today.

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