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Author: Primitive Method

Descriptions of Brass and Zinc in Mappae Clavicula

Descriptions of Brass and Zinc in Mappae Clavicula

The history of brass is complex, and it defies popular ideas about metallurgy – assuming that alloys are made by melting metals together. Metallic zinc was little known in Europe until the early modern period, but its alloy with copper – brass – was in high demand in antiquity and the middle ages. Recipes typically call for powdered minerals or furnace accretions that (unknown to the ancients) contained zinc, and use a “cementation” process to combine the metals – very different to…

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Book Review – “Mappae Clavicula, A little key to the world of medieval techniques” – translated by C. S. Smith and J. G. Hawthorne

Book Review – “Mappae Clavicula, A little key to the world of medieval techniques” – translated by C. S. Smith and J. G. Hawthorne

Book Review – “Mappae Clavicula, A little key to the world of medieval techniques” – translated by C. S. Smith and J. G. Hawthorne Mappae Clavicula is part of a thread that runs through the history of craft and chemistry. The thread is only visible occassionally, and we can only find it because it is a textual tradition. That might seem overly poetic, but it’s an apt description for a document whose name is (confusingly) translated as “The Small Key…

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