Alchemy. It is thought that the ideas behind alchemy started as early as 300 AD and lasted right up until around the 12th century AD.
The idea behind alchemy was to turn base metals into gold (trans-mutate the base metals) and although it was not good chemistry, some of the methods and techniques used were ultimately used at a later date in ‘real’ chemistry.
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The alchemists had a major problem though – they could not turn the base metals into gold! It was rumoured that the ‘philosophers stone’ was needed. As the plague took hold of Europe in the 14th century it was also thought that alchemy could develop medicines (the elixir of life) to improve health and ultimately provide eternal youth.
Famous alchemists included Isaac Newton.