The ancient art of Alchemy is at the heart of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The mysterious Stone in question had been made by Nicolas Flamel, and taken in secret to Hogwarts. What readers of the Harry Potter stories may not have realised is that Flamel was a real person, a wealthy landlord (and reputed alchemist) who lived in medieval Paris, where he died in 1418.
The Age-Old Chemical Work
According to legend, Nicolas Flamel had discovered a rare manuscript that explained how to make the Philosopher’s Stone. This book claims to be a translation of that lost text, and is attributed to the Rabbi Abraham Eleazar. In this picture, a serpent and a crowned dragon form a circle, head-to-tail. This symbolises the unification of ‘primary matter’ with the ‘universal spirit’, essential in the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Book of the Seven Climes
The Book of the Seven Climes was written by the alchemist Abū al-Qāsim al-‘Irāqī, and is the earliest study to focus on alchemical illustration. According to al-‘Irāqī, this image depicts a complex alchemical process. In reality, it reproduces an ancient monument erected in memory of King Amenemhat II, who ruled Egypt nearly 4,000 years ago.