In the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, the Arabo-Islamic world acquired a massive amount of knowledge from the antique and late antique traditions. In order to reconstruct the historical circumstances in which this transfer of knowledge took place, we are often forced to rely on the narratives that frequently accompany technical texts. The frame tale attached to The Treasure of Alexander (Ḏaḫīrat al-Iskandar) is a complex narrative that glues together an anthology of technical texts in ten chapters. Its alchemical section contains, among other things, instructions for preparing four different ‘sharp waters’, characterized by an increasing degree of intensity. Such ‘waters’—possibly acid and corrosive substances—were supposed to be used in the treatment and dyeing of different minerals and metals. This paper offers a critical edition and English translation of the passages dealing with the four ‘waters’ and their role in different alchemical procedures in The Treasure of Alexander. Special attention is paid to those textual clues that may link the contents of The Treasure to the Graeco-Egyptian alchemical tradition of ‘divine water’.

Alchemical Waters Run Deep: The Four Waters and Their Use in The Treasure of Alexander

lucia raggetti
2022

Abstract

In the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, the Arabo-Islamic world acquired a massive amount of knowledge from the antique and late antique traditions. In order to reconstruct the historical circumstances in which this transfer of knowledge took place, we are often forced to rely on the narratives that frequently accompany technical texts. The frame tale attached to The Treasure of Alexander (Ḏaḫīrat al-Iskandar) is a complex narrative that glues together an anthology of technical texts in ten chapters. Its alchemical section contains, among other things, instructions for preparing four different ‘sharp waters’, characterized by an increasing degree of intensity. Such ‘waters’—possibly acid and corrosive substances—were supposed to be used in the treatment and dyeing of different minerals and metals. This paper offers a critical edition and English translation of the passages dealing with the four ‘waters’ and their role in different alchemical procedures in The Treasure of Alexander. Special attention is paid to those textual clues that may link the contents of The Treasure to the Graeco-Egyptian alchemical tradition of ‘divine water’.
lucia raggetti
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/902293
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