Alchemy and chemistry in medieval Islam
Alchemy and chemistry in Islam refers to the study of both traditional alchemy and early practical chemistry by scholars in the medieval Islamic world. The word alchemy was derived from the Arabic word كيمياء or kīmiyāʾ. and may derive from the ancient Egyptian word kemi, meaning black. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the focus of alchemical development moved to the Caliphate and the Islamic civilization. Much more is known about Islamic alchemy. In considering Islamic sciences as a distinct, local practice, it is important to define words such as "Arabic," "Islamic," "alchemy," and "chemistry." In order to gain a better grasp on the concepts discussed in this article, it is important to come to an understanding of what these terms mean historically. This may help to clear up any misconceptions regarding the possible differences between alchemy and early chemistry in the context of medieval times; as A. I. Sabra writes in his article entitled, "Situating Arabic Science: Location versus Essence," "the term Arabic science denotes the scientific activities of individuals who lived in a region that extended chronologically from the eighth century A.
D. to the beginning of the modern era, geographically from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa to the Indus valley and from southern Arabia to the Caspian Sea - that is, the region covered for most of that period by what we call Islamic civilization, in which the results of the activities referred to were for the most part expressed in the Arabic language." This definition of Arabic science provides a sense that there are many distinguishing factors to contrast with science of the Western hemisphere regarding physical location and language, though there are several similarities in the goals pursued by scientists of the Middle Ages, in the origins of thinking from which both were derived. Lawrence Principe describes the relationship between alchemy and chemistry in his article entitled, "Alchemy Restored," in which he states, "The search for metallic transmutation — what we call "alchemy" but, more termed "Chrysopoeia" — was ordinarily viewed in the late seventeenth century as synonymous with or as a subset of chemistry."
He therefore proposes that the early spelling of chemistry as "chymistry" refers to a unified science including both alchemy and early chemistry. Principe goes on to argue that, "ll their chymical activities were unified by a common focus on the analysis, synthesis and production of material substances." Therefore, there is not a defined contrast between the two fields until the early 18th century. Though Principe's discussion is centered on the Western practice of alchemy and chemistry, this argument is supported in the context of Islamic science as well when considering the similarity in methodology and Aristotelian inspirations, as noted in other sections of this article; this distinction between alchemy and early chemistry is one that lies predominately in semantics, though with an understanding of previous uses of the words, we can better understand the historical lack of distinct connotations regarding the terms despite their altered connotations in modern contexts. The transmission of these sciences throughout the Eastern and Western hemispheres is important to understand when distinguishing the sciences of both regions.
The beginnings of cultural and scientific diffusion of information between the Western and Eastern societies began with the successful conquests of Alexander the Great. By establishing territory throughout the East, Alexander the Great allowed greater communication between the two hemispheres that would continue throughout history. A thousand years those Asian territories conquered by Alexander the Great, such as Iraq and Iran, became a center of religious movements with a focus on Christianity and Zoroastrianism, which all involve sacred texts as a basis, thus encouraging literacy and the spread of ideas. Aristotelian logic was soon included in the curriculum a center for higher education in Nisibis, located east of the Persian border, was used to enhance the philosophical discussion of theology taking place at the time; the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, became an important source of "theology, morality and cosmology," in what Lindberg describes as "the centerpiece of Islamic education."
After the death of Muhammed in 632, Islam was extended throughout the Arabian peninsula, Persia, Syria and Israel by means of military conquest, solidifying the region as a predominately Muslim one. While the expansion of the Islamic empire was an important factor in diminishing political barriers between such areas, there was still a wide range of religions and philosophies that could move and be translated throughout the regions; this development made way for contributions to be made on behalf of the East towards the Western conception of sciences such as alchemy. While this transmission of information and practices allowed for the further development of the field, though both were inspired by Aristotelian logic and Hellenic philosophies, as well as by mystical aspects it is important to note that cultural and religious boundaries remained; the mystical and religious elements discussed in the article distinguished Islamic alchemy from that of its Western counterpart, given that the West had predominately Christian ideals on which to base their beliefs and results, while the Islamic tradition differed greatly.
While the motives differed in some ways, as did the calculations, the practice and
Hippocrates of Kos known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is referred to as the "Father of Medicine" in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field as the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine; this intellectual school revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece, establishing it as a discipline distinct from other fields with which it had traditionally been associated, thus establishing medicine as a profession. However, the achievements of the writers of the Corpus, the practitioners of Hippocratic medicine and the actions of Hippocrates himself were commingled. Hippocrates is portrayed as the paragon of the ancient physician, credited with coining the Hippocratic Oath, still relevant and in use today, he is credited with advancing the systematic study of clinical medicine, summing up the medical knowledge of previous schools, prescribing practices for physicians through the Hippocratic Corpus and other works.
Historians agree. Soranus of Ephesus, a 2nd-century Greek physician, was Hippocrates' first biographer and is the source of most personal information about him. Biographies are in the Suda of the 10th century AD, in the works of John Tzetzes, Aristotle's "Politics", which date from the 4th century BC. Soranus wrote that Hippocrates' father was Heraclides, a physician, his mother was Praxitela, daughter of Tizane; the two sons of Hippocrates and Draco, his son-in-law, were his students. According to Galen, a physician, Polybus was Hippocrates' true successor, while Thessalus and Draco each had a son named Hippocrates. Soranus said that Hippocrates learned medicine from his father and grandfather, studied other subjects with Democritus and Gorgias. Hippocrates was trained at the asklepieion of Kos, took lessons from the Thracian physician Herodicus of Selymbria. Plato mentions Hippocrates in two of his dialogues: in Protagoras, Plato describes Hippocrates as "Hippocrates of Kos, the Asclepiad". Hippocrates taught and practiced medicine throughout his life, traveling at least as far as Thessaly and the Sea of Marmara.
Several different accounts of his death exist. He died in Larissa, at the age of 83, 85 or 90, though some say he lived to be well over 100. Hippocrates is credited with being the first person to believe that diseases were caused not because of superstition and gods. Hippocrates was credited by the disciples of Pythagoras of allying medicine, he separated the discipline of medicine from religion and arguing that disease was not a punishment inflicted by the gods but rather the product of environmental factors and living habits. Indeed there is not a single mention of a mystical illness in the entirety of the Hippocratic Corpus. However, Hippocrates did work with many convictions that were based on what is now known to be incorrect anatomy and physiology, such as Humorism. Ancient Greek schools of medicine were split on; the Knidian school of medicine focused on diagnosis. Medicine at the time of Hippocrates knew nothing of human anatomy and physiology because of the Greek taboo forbidding the dissection of humans.
The Knidian school failed to distinguish when one disease caused many possible series of symptoms. The Hippocratic school or Koan school achieved greater success by applying general diagnoses and passive treatments, its focus was on patient prognosis, not diagnosis. It could treat diseases and allowed for a great development in clinical practice. Hippocratic medicine and its philosophy are far removed from that of modern medicine. Now, the physician focuses on specific diagnosis and specialized treatment, both of which were espoused by the Knidian school; this shift in medical thought since Hippocrates' day has caused serious criticism over the past two millennia, with the passivity of Hippocratic treatment being the subject of strong denunciations. Another important concept in Hippocratic medicine was that of a crisis, a point in the progression of disease at which either the illness would begin to triumph and the patient would succumb to death, or the opposite would occur and natural processes would make the patient recover.
After a crisis, a relapse might follow, another deciding crisis. According to this doctrine, crises tend to occur on critical days, which were supposed to be a fixed time after the contraction of a disease. If a crisis occurred on a day far from a critical day, a relapse might be expected. Galen believed that this idea originated with Hippocrates, though it is possible that it predated him. Hippocratic medicine was passive; the therapeutic approach was based on "the healing power of nature". According to this doctrine, the body contains within itself the power to re-balance the four humours and heal itself. Hippocratic therapy focused on easing this natural process. To this end, Hippocrates believed "rest and immobilization
Astrology in medieval Islam
The medieval Muslims took a keen interest in the study of astrology: because they considered the celestial bodies to be essential because the dwellers of desert-regions travelled at night, relied upon knowledge of the constellations for guidance in their journeys. After the advent of Islam, the Muslims needed to determine the time of the prayers, the direction of the Kaaba, the correct orientation of the mosque, all of which helped give a religious impetus to the study of astronomy and contributed towards the belief that the heavenly bodies were influential upon terrestrial affairs as well as the human condition; the science dealing with such influences was termed astrology, a discipline contained within the field of astronomy. The principles of these studies were rooted in Arabian, Babylonian and Indian traditions and both were developed by the Arabs following their establishment of a magnificent observatory and library of astronomical and astrological texts at Baghdad in the 8th century.
Throughout the medieval period the practical application of astrology was subject to deep philosophical debate by Muslim religious scholars and scientists. Astrological prognostications required a fair amount of exact scientific expertise and the quest for such knowledge within this era helped to provide the incentive for the study and development of astronomy. Medieval Islamic astrology and astronomy continued Hellenistic and Roman era traditions based on Ptolemy's Almagest. Centres of learning in medicine and astronomy/astrology were set up in Baghdad and Damascus, the Caliph Al-Mansur of Baghdad established a major observatory and library in the city, making it the world's astronomical centre. During this time knowledge of astronomy was increased, the astrolabe was invented by Al Fazari. Many modern star names are derived from their Persian names. Albumasur or Abu Ma'shar was one of the most influential Islamic astrologers, his treatise Introductorium in Astronomiam spoke of how'"only by observing the great diversity of planetary motions can we comprehend the unnumbered varieties of change in this world".
The Introductorium was one of the first books to find its way in translation through Spain and into Europe in the Middle Ages, was influential in the revival of astrology and astronomy there. Persians combined the disciplines of medicine and astrology by linking the curative properties of herbs with specific zodiac signs and planets. Mars, for instance, was considered hot and dry and so ruled plants with a hot or pungent taste, like hellebore, tobacco or mustard; these beliefs were adopted by European herbalists like Culpeper right up until the development of modern medicine. The Persians developed a system, by which the difference between the ascendant and each planet of the zodiac was calculated; this new position became a'part' of some kind. For example, the'part of fortune' is found by taking the difference between the sun and the ascendant and adding it to the moon. If the'part' thus calculated was in the 10th House in Libra, for instance, it suggested that money could be made from some kind of partnership.
The calendar introduced by Omar Khayyám Neyshabouri, based on the classical zodiac, remains in effect in Afghanistan and Iran as the official Persian calendar. The Almagest, together with the original contributions of 9th to 10th century Persian astronomy such as the astrolabe, was introduced to Christian Europe beginning in the 11th century, by contact with Islamic Spain. Another notable Persian astrologer and astronomer was Qutb al-Din al Shirazi born in Shiraz, he wrote critiques of Ptolemy's Almagest and produced two prominent works on astronomy:'The Limit of Accomplishment Concerning Knowledge of the Heavens' in 1281 and'The Royal Present' in 1284, both of which commented upon and improved on Ptolemy's work in the field of planetary motion. Al-Shirazi was the first person to give the correct scientific explanation for the formation of a rainbow. Ulugh Beyg was a fifteenth-century Timurid Sultan and a mathematician and astronomer, he built an observatory in 1428 and produced the first original star map since Ptolemy, which corrected the position of many stars and included many new ones.
Some of the principles of astrology were refuted by several medieval Islamic astronomers such as Al-Farabi, Ibn al-Haytham, Abu Rayhan al-Biruni and Averroes. Their reasons for refuting astrology were due to both scientific and religious reasons; however these refutations concerned the judicial branches of astrology rather than the natural principles of it. For example, Avicenna's refutation of astrology revealed support for its overarching principles, he stated that it was true that each planet had some influence on the earth, but his argument was the difficulty of astrologers being able to determine the exact effect of it. In essence, Avicenna did not refute astrology, but denied man’s limited capacity to be able to know the precise effects of the stars on the sublunar matter. With that, he did not refute the essential dogma of astrology, but only refuted our ability to understand it. Another Damascene scientist Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya, in his Miftah Dar al-Sa'adah, used empirical arguments in astronomy in order to refute the judicial practice of astrology, most aligned to divination
The Near East is a geographical term that encompasses a transcontinental region centered on Western Asia and Egypt. Despite having varying definitions within different academic circles, the term was applied to the maximum extent of the Ottoman Empire; the term has fallen into disuse in English and has been replaced by the terms Middle East, which includes Egypt, West Asia, which includes the Transcaucasus. According to the National Geographic Society, the terms Near East and Middle East denote the same territories and are "generally accepted as comprising the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Palestinian territories and Turkey"; as of 1997, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations defined the region but included Afghanistan. At the beginning of the 19th century the Ottoman Empire included all of the Balkan Peninsula south to the southern edge of the Hungarian Plain, but by 1914 had lost all of it except Constantinople and Eastern Thrace to the rise of nationalist Balkan states, which saw the independence of Greece, the Danubian Principalities and Bulgaria.
Up until 1912, the Ottomans retained a band of territory including Albania and Southern Thrace, which were lost in the two Balkan Wars of 1912–13. The Ottoman Empire, believed to be about to collapse, was portrayed in the press as the "sick man of Europe"; the Balkan states, with the partial exception of Bosnia and Albania, were Christian, as was the majority of Lebanon. Starting in 1894, the Ottomans struck at the Armenians on the explicit grounds that they were a non-Muslim people and as such were a potential threat to the Muslim empire within which they resided; the Hamidian Massacres aroused the indignation of the entire Christian world. In the United States the now aging Julia Ward Howe, author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, leaped into the war of words and joined the Red Cross. Relations of minorities within the Ottoman Empire and the disposition of former Ottoman lands became known as the "Eastern Question", as the Ottomans were on the east of Europe, it now became relevant to define the east of the eastern question.
In about the middle of the 19th century Near East came into use to describe that part of the east closest to Europe. The term Far East appeared contemporaneously meaning Japan, Korea and Vietnam. Near East applied to what had been known as the Levant, in the jurisdiction of the Ottoman Porte, or government; those who used the term had little choice about its meaning. They could not set foot on most of the shores of the southern and central Mediterranean from the Gulf of Sidra to Albania without permits from the Ottoman Empire; some regions beyond the Ottoman Porte were included. One was North Africa west of Egypt, it was occupied by piratical kingdoms of the Barbary Coast, de facto-independent since the 18th century part of the empire at its apogee. Iran was included because it could not be reached except through the Ottoman Empire or neighboring Russia. In the 1890s the term tended to focus on the conflicts in Armenia; the demise of "the sick man of Europe" left considerable confusion as to what was to be meant by "Near East".
It is now used only in historical contexts, to describe the countries of Western Asia from the Mediterranean to Iran. There is, in short, no universally-understood fixed inventory of nations, languages or historical assets defined to be in it; the geographical terms Near East and Far East referring to areas of the globe in or contiguous to the former British Empire and the neighboring colonies of the Dutch, Portuguese and Germans, fit together as a pair based on the opposites of far and near, suggesting that they were innovated together. They appear together in the journals of the mid-19th century. Both terms were used before with local British and American meanings: the near or far east of a field, village or shire. There was a linguistic predisposition to use such terms; the Romans had used them in near Gaul / far Gaul, near Spain / far others. Before them the Greeks had the habit, which appears in Linear B, the oldest known script of Europe, referring to the near province and the far province of the kingdom of Pylos.
These terms were given with reference to a geographic feature, such as a mountain range or a river. Ptolemy's Geography divided Asia on a similar basis. In the north is "Scythia this side of the Himalayas" and "Scythia beyond the Himalayas". To the south is "India on this side of the Ganges" and "India beyond the Ganges". Asia began on the coast of Anatolia. Beyond the Ganges and Himalayas were Serica and Serae and some other identifiable far eastern locations known to the voyagers and geographers but not to the general European public. By the time of John Seller's Atlas Maritima of 1670, "India Beyond the Ganges" had become "the East Indies" including China, southeast Asia and the islands of the Pacific in a map, every bit as distorted as Ptolemy's, despite the lapse of 1,500 years; that "east" in turn was only an English translation of Latin Oriens and Orientalis, "the land of the rising Sun", used since Roman times for "east". The world map of Jodocus Hondius of 1590 labels all of Asia from the Caspian to the Pacific as India Orientalis, shortly to appear in translation as the East Indies.
Elizabeth I of England interested in trade with the east, collaborated with English merchants to form the first trading companies to the far-flung regions, using their own jargon. Their goals were to obtain trading concessio
Western esotericism called esotericism and sometimes the Western mystery tradition, is a term under which scholars have categorised a wide range of loosely related ideas and movements which have developed within Western society. These ideas and currents are united by the fact that they are distinct both from orthodox Judeo-Christian religion and from Enlightenment rationalism. Esotericism has pervaded various forms of Western philosophy, pseudoscience, art and music, continuing to affect intellectual ideas and popular culture; the idea of grouping a wide range of Western traditions and philosophies together under the category, now termed esotericism developed in Europe during the late seventeenth century. Various academics have debated how to define Western esotericism, with a number of different options proposed. One scholarly model adopts its definition of "esotericism" from certain esotericist schools of thought themselves, treating "esotericism" as a perennialist hidden, inner tradition.
A second perspective sees esotericism as a category that encompasses movements which embrace an "enchanted" world-view in the face of increasing disenchantment. A third views Western esotericism as a category encompassing all of Western culture's "rejected knowledge", accepted neither by the scientific establishment nor by orthodox religious authorities; the earliest traditions which analysis would label as forms of Western esotericism emerged in the Eastern Mediterranean during Late Antiquity, where Hermetism and Neoplatonism developed as schools of thought distinct from what became mainstream Christianity. Renaissance Europe saw increasing interest in many of these older ideas, with various intellectuals combining "pagan" philosophies with the Kabbalah and Christian philosophy, resulting in the emergence of esoteric movements like Christian theosophy; the seventeenth century saw the development of initiatory societies professing esoteric knowledge such as Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, while the Age of Enlightenment of the eighteenth century led to the development of new forms of esoteric thought.
The nineteenth century saw the emergence of new trends of esoteric thought that have come to be known as occultism. Prominent groups in this century included the Theosophical Society and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Modern Paganism developed within occultism, includes religious movements such as Wicca. Esoteric ideas permeated the counterculture of the 1960s and cultural tendencies, from which emerged the New Age phenomenon in the 1970s. Although the idea that these varying movements could be categorised together under the rubric of "Western esotericism" developed in the late eighteenth century, these esoteric currents were ignored as a subject of academic enquiry; the academic study of Western esotericism only emerged in the late twentieth-century, pioneered by scholars like Frances Yates and Antoine Faivre. Esoteric ideas have meanwhile exerted an influence in popular culture, appearing in art, literature and music; the concept of the "esoteric" originated in the second century AD with the coining of the Ancient Greek adjective esôterikós.
The term "esotericism" thus came into use in the wake of the Age of Enlightenment and of its critique of institutionalised religion, during which time alternative religious groups began to disassociate themselves from the dominant Christianity in Western Europe. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the term "esotericism" came to be seen as something, distinct from Christianity, which had formed a subculture, at odds with the Christian mainstream from at least the time of the Renaissance; the French occultist and ceremonial magician Eliphas Lévi popularized the term in the 1850s, Theosophist Alfred Percy Sinnett introduced it into the English language in his book Esoteric Buddhism. Lévi introduced the term l'occultisme, a notion that he developed against the background of contemporary socialist and Catholic discourses. "Esotericism" and "occultism" were employed as synonyms until scholars distinguished the concepts. The concept of "Western esotericism" is a modern scholarly construct rather than a pre-existing, self-defined tradition of thought.
In the late seventeenth century, several European Christian thinkers presented the argument that certain traditions of Western philosophy and thought could be categorised together, thus establishing the category, now called "Western esotericism". The first to do so was de: Ehregott Daniel Colberg, a German Lutheran who wrote Platonisch-Hermetisches Christianity. A hostile critic of various currents of Western thought that had emerged since the Renaissance—among them Paracelsianism and Christian theosophy—in his book he labelled all of these traditions under the category of "Platonic–Hermetic Christianity", arguing that they were heretical to what he saw as true Christianity. Despite his hostile attitude toward these traditions of thought, he was the first to connect these disparate philosophies and study them under one rubric recognising that these ideas linked back to earlier philosophies from late antiquity. In Europe during the eighteenth century, amid the Age of Enlightenment, these esoteric traditions came to be categorised under the labels of "superstition", "magic", "the occult", terms which were used interchangeably.
Andalusia is an autonomous community in southern Spain. It is the most populous, the second largest autonomous community in the country; the Andalusian autonomous community is recognised as a "historical nationality". The territory is divided into eight provinces: Almería, Cádiz, Córdoba, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville, its capital is the city of Seville. Andalusia is located in the south of the Iberian peninsula, in south-western Europe south of the autonomous communities of Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha. Andalusia is the only European region with both Atlantic coastlines; the small British overseas territory of Gibraltar shares a three-quarter-mile land border with the Andalusian province of Cádiz at the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar. The main mountain ranges of Andalusia are the Sierra Morena and the Baetic System, consisting of the Subbaetic and Penibaetic Mountains, separated by the Intrabaetic Basin. In the north, the Sierra Morena separates Andalusia from the plains of Extremadura and Castile–La Mancha on Spain's Meseta Central.
To the south the geographic subregion of Upper Andalusia lies within the Baetic System, while Lower Andalusia is in the Baetic Depression of the valley of the Guadalquivir. The name "Andalusia" is derived from the Arabic word Al-Andalus; the toponym al-Andalus is first attested by inscriptions on coins minted in 716 by the new Muslim government of Iberia. These coins, called dinars, were inscribed in both Arabic; the etymology of the name "al-Andalus" has traditionally been derived from the name of the Vandals. Halm in 1989 derived the name from a Gothic term, *landahlauts, in 2002, Bossong suggested its derivation from a pre-Roman substrate; the region's history and culture have been influenced by the native Iberians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Jews, Muslim Moors and the Castilian and other Christian North Iberian nationalities who reconquered and settled the area in the latter phases of the Reconquista. Andalusia has been a agricultural region, compared to the rest of Spain and the rest of Europe.
However, the growth of the community in the sectors of industry and services was above average in Spain and higher than many communities in the Eurozone. The region has a strong identity. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are or Andalusian in origin; these include flamenco and, to a lesser extent and Hispano-Moorish architectural styles, both of which are prevalent in other regions of Spain. Andalusia's hinterland is the hottest area of Europe, with cities like Córdoba and Seville averaging above 36 °C in summer high temperatures. Late evening temperatures can sometimes stay around 35 °C until close to midnight, with daytime highs of over 40 °C common. Seville has the highest average annual temperature in mainland Spain and mainland Europe followed by Almería, its present form is derived from the Arabic name for Muslim Iberia, "Al-Andalus". However, the etymology of the name "Al-Andalus" is disputed, the extent of Iberian territory encompassed by the name has changed over the centuries.
The Spanish place name Andalucía was introduced into the Spanish languages in the 13th century under the form el Andalucía. The name was adopted to refer to those territories still under Moorish rule, south of Castilla Nueva and Valencia, corresponding with the former Roman province hitherto called Baetica in Latin sources; this was a Castilianization of Al-Andalusiya, the adjectival form of the Arabic language al-Andalus, the name given by the Arabs to all of the Iberian territories under Muslim rule from 711 to 1492. The etymology of al-Andalus is itself somewhat debated, but in fact it entered the Arabic language before this area came under Muslim rule. Like the Arabic term al-Andalus, in historical contexts the Spanish term Andalucía or the English term Andalusia do not refer to the exact territory designated by these terms today; the term referred to territories under Muslim control. In the Estoria de España of Alfonso X of Castile, written in the second half of the 13th century, the term Andalucía is used with three different meanings: As a literal translation of the Arabic al-Ándalus when Arabic texts are quoted.
To designate the territories the Christians had regained by that time in the Guadalquivir valley and in the Kingdoms of Granada and Murcia. In a document from 1253, Alfonso X styled himself León y de toda Andalucía. To designate the territories the Christians had regained by that time in the Guadalquivir valley but not the Kingdom of Granada; this was the most common significance in Early modern period. From an administrative point of view, Granada remained separate for many years after the completion of the Reconquista due, above all, to its emblematic character as the last territory regained, as the seat of the important Real Chancillería de Granada, a court of last resort. Stil
Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae Boswellia sacra, B. carterii, B. frereana, B. serrata, B. papyrifera. The word is from Old French franc encens. There are five main species of Boswellia. Resin from each of the five is available in various grades; the resin is hand-sorted for quality. The English word frankincense derives from the Old French expression franc encens, meaning "high-quality incense"; the word franc in Old French meant "noble" or "pure". A popular folk etymology suggests a connection with the Franks, who reintroduced the spice to Western Europe during the Middle Ages, but the word itself comes from the expression. Frankincense is tapped from the scraggly but hardy trees by striping and letting the exuded resin bleed out and harden; the hardened streaks of resin are called tears. Several species and varieties of frankincense trees each produce a different type of resin. Differences in soil and climate create more diversity of the resin within the same species.
Boswellia sacra trees are considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so unforgiving that they sometimes grow out of solid rock. The initial means of attachment to the rock is unknown, but is accomplished by a bulbous disk-like swelling of the trunk; this growth prevents violent storms from detaching the tree. This feature is absent in trees that grow in rocky soil or gravel; the trees start producing resin at about eight to 10 years old. Tapping is done two to three times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene and diterpene content. Speaking, the more opaque resins are the best quality. Fine resin is produced in Somalia. Recent studies indicate that frankincense tree populations are declining due to over-exploitation. Tapped trees produce seeds that germinate at only 16% while seeds of trees that had not been tapped germinate at more than 80%. In addition, burning and attacks by the longhorn beetle have reduced the tree population.
Conversion of frankincense woodlands to agriculture is a major threat. These are some of the chemical compounds present in frankincense: acid resin, soluble in alcohol and having the formula C20H32O4 gum 30–36% 3-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid alpha-boswellic acid 4-O-methyl-glucuronic acid incensole acetate, C21H34O3 phellandrene -cis- and -trans-olibanic acidsSee the following references for a comprehensive overview of the chemical compounds in different frankincense species. Frankincense has been traded on the Arabian Peninsula for more than 6,000 years. Frankincense was one of the consecrated incenses described in the Torah and Talmud used in ketoret ceremonies, an important component of the services in the Temple in Jerusalem, it was offered on a specialized incense altar in the time when the Tabernacle was located in the First and Second Temples. It is mentioned in the Book of Exodus 30:34, which calls it לבונה, similar to לבן, lavan,'white', it was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary, was used as an accompaniment of the meal-offering.
It was mentioned as a commodity in trade from Sheba. When burnt it emitted a fragrant odor, the incense was a symbol of the Divine name and an emblem of prayer, it was associated with myrrh. A specially "pure" kind, lebhonah zakkah, was presented with the showbread. Frankincense received numerous mentions in the New Testament. Together with gold and myrrh, it was made an offering to the infant Jesus. Frankincense was reintroduced to Europe by Frankish Crusaders, although its name refers to its quality, not to the Franks themselves. Though it is better known as "frankincense" to westerners, the resin is known as olibanum, or in Arabic al-lubān, a reference to the milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree; the Greek historian Herodotus was familiar with frankincense and knew it was harvested from trees in southern Arabia. He reported that the gum was dangerous to harvest because of venomous snakes that lived in the trees, he goes on to describe the method used by the Arabs to get around this problem, that being the burning of the gum of the styrax tree whose smoke would drive the snakes away.
Theophrastus mentions the resin. Southern Arabia was a major exporter of frankincense in antiquity, with some of it being traded as far as China; the 13th-century Chinese writer and customs inspector Zhao Rugua wrote on the origin of frankincense, of its being traded to China: "Ruxiang or xunluxiang comes from the three Dashi countries of Murbat and Dhofar, from the depths of the remotest mountains. The tree which yields this drug may be compared to the pine tree, its trunk is notched with a hatchet, upon which the resin flows out, when hardened, turns into incense, gathered and made into lumps. It is transported on elephants to the Das