CHYMIA. Science and Nature in Early Modern Europe (1450-1750)
International Conference. El Escorial (Madrid), September 2008


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Conference Report and Pictures
By José Rodríguez

From 7-12 September 2008 the María Cristina Royal University Centre hosted the Chymia Conference, the world's biggest conference on history of alchemy and early chemistry, with about 200 people attending over the six days. The conference attracted people of many countries, including Mexico, Czech Republic, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Japan, Taiwan, Italy, Poland, Portugal, France and many from the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain.

As an international event, it brought together the world’s leading authorities, so it was an extraordinary opportunity to meet and network with scholars interested or working in history of alchemy and related fields. The conference combined all the opportunities of a professional meeting, with the added attraction of been hearing and presenting new and innovative research, engaging in vigorous debate, and interacting with like-minded people who share research interests.

For me, it was a rewarding scientific and social experience. I could meet old friends and eminent professors I have been admiring. It kept me entertained with the huge diversity of topics and I could learn about everything, from forgotten documents to the most recent research into famous alchemists (Michael Sendivogius, George Ripley, John of Rupescissa, Isaac Newton, Isaac Hollandus, etc.).

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The last day, many of the attendees posed for a group photo on the central courtyard of the University College.


A very necessary coffe break. Here you can see Rosa Maria Stoops (University of Montevallo), Manuel Castillo (Universidad de Sevilla) and many others.


Another coffe break with Didier Kahn (CNRS, CELLF 17e-18e), Sébastien Moureau (Université catholique de Louvain) and many others.


Here you can see Adam McLean (, Lawrence Principe (Johns Hopkins University) and Bruce Moran (University of Nevada, Reno) discussing the lectures in small groups while enjoying a cup of tea.


A small group of spanish attendees: María Luz López Terrada (CSIC-Valencia), Mar Rey (Madrid) and Marcos Martinón (University College London)


Lauren Kassell (University of Cambridge) and Tara Nummedal (Brown University)


Antonio Barreda (Colgate University, Hamilton), Bruce Moran and Vera Keller (Princeton University) were discussing some questions in the conference main room.


María Tausiet (CSIC Madrid) was talking about a well-documented and hitherto unknown inquisitorial process against a spanish alchemist.


William Eamon (University of New Mexico) spoke about the Italian alchemists in the Court of Philip II. He also spread his wisdom in infornal talks with young researchers


Alice Poust (Bucknell University)


John Slater (University of Colorado at Boulder) and Willian Newman (Indiana University)


The French-speaking “troop” at San Lorenzo de El Escorial: Luc Peterschmitt (Université Charles-de-Gaulle, Lille 3), Hiro Hirai (Ghent University), Rémi Franckowiak (Université Charles-de-Gaulle, Lille 3), Didier Kahn (CNRS, CELLF 17e-18e) and Sébastien Moureau (Université catholique de Louvain)


Jennifer Rampling (Cambridge University) was speaking about George Ripley's Compound of Alchemy and the metaphor of the twelve-gated castle.


Annelies van Gijsen (Antwerp University/Ghent University) presented her research project about the alchemical texts ascribed to Isaac Hollandus


José Rodríguez (Azogue Journal) explained his theory about the origin of the alchemical corpus attributed to the medieval physician Arnau de Vilanova


Miguel López (conference Chair) and Marcos Martinón


Manuel Castillo and Mar Rey, two members of the new Spanish Society for the History of Alchemy


Vera Keller, Rafal T. Prinke (Akademia Wychowania Fizycznego, Poznan) and David Brafman (Getty Research Institute)


Miguel López and Pamela H. Smith (Columbia University)


Some of the contributors in an authentic tapas bar, an oasis of good conversation, food and drink. Here you can find some people not yet mentioned: Peter J. Forshaw (Birkbeck, University of London) and Gabriele Ferrario (Università “Ca’ Foscari”, Venezia)


Sébastien Moureau, Miguel López and Gabriele Ferrario


Lawrence Principe, Maria Portuondo (Johns Hopkins University), Mar Rey and Miguel López in a place called "Philip II's Chair". From here there is a magnificent view of the huge building set against the backdrop of the Sierra de Guadarrama.


Wellcome dinner. It consists of typical spanish foods and drinks. Here you can see Jaime carving the Iberic ham into fresh and thin slices


Quique and Rita (conference assistants), Hiro Hirai, Sébastien Moureau, Didier Kahn, Miguel López, Benjamin Fauré (Toulouse), Luc Peterschmitt, Antonio Clericuzio (Università di Cassino) and Raimon Arola (Universitat de Barcelona) with his wife Lluisa Vert, in “El Chorrillo” restaurant (Palazuelos de Eresma, Segovia)


M.E. Warlick (University of Denver) and Rafal T. Prinke



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Conference supported by Real Centro Universitario Escorial-María Cristina

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