If you wanted to be at the bleeding edge of technology four thousand years ago, what you needed was an alchemist. The word alchemy itself, is as confused about its origins as we are today, about the origins of alchemy. Alchemy, the word, could be a corruption of an old French word. The French word is derived from Medieval Latin. The Medieval Latin word in question comes from joining up a couple of Arabic words. The Arabs had pinched the words from the Greeks (nice to see we’re not the only ones who do this). We think the Greeks were actually using an Egyptian word. The problem is, after all that, it’s hard to make the Egyptian word mean anything that could be classed as alchemy. Still it does make a good story, I suppose.
The main differences you would notice about your Alchemist, once you had one cornered, was the way they mixed the spiritual in with the practical. I recently came across a reference to using the correct spell with herbal medicine (sorry Google, I can’t remember where). As the commentator pointed out, at a time when temporal divisions consisted of winter, and then the rest of the year, the choice between telling someone to boil the pot gently for four minutes or telling them to recite a spell that took four minutes to say, was pretty much a no-brainer.
With science or magic or whatever, alchemists developed the still and used it to distil everything in sight – including wine.
I marked out these trees when they were the first in flower. I’ve picked a few of their cherries, put them in a jar and covered them in Brandy.
We will see what happens.