Alchemy is one of the most mysterious and fascinating legacies of the Middle Ages. Rooted in ancient China, India, and Greece, alchemy was practiced most prolifically in Europe from the Late Middle Ages through the Early Modern period. Although most prominent during the Renaissance, when the princes of Europe often had court astrologers and alchemists, it continued to be practiced secretly but perhaps even more broadly through the 18th century.
The central pursuit of alchemy was the discovery of the “philosopher’s stone”, a mysterious substance with various attributes ranging from the transmutation of metals and gems to being the critical ingredient in creating an elixir of life. Although discounted today as a pseudoscience, alchemy continues to be a source of fascination today, influencing popular works like the Harry Potter book series.