Study of the traces of nature in herbal deposits of a thousand-year-old Alembic glass analyzed and processed by the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS). - Journal of Research on Archaeometry
year 6, Issue 1 (2020)                   JRA 2020, 6(1): 119-135 | Back to browse issues page

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Hosseinian Yeganeh N, Shishegar A, Emami M, Nejad Ebrahimi S. Study of the traces of nature in herbal deposits of a thousand-year-old Alembic glass analyzed and processed by the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer (GC-MS).. JRA. 2020; 6 (1) :119-135
1- Islamic Azad University, Central Tehran Branch ,
2- Archaeological Research (ICAR), Tehran
3- University of Isfahan
4- Shahid Beheshti University
Abstract:   (798 Views)
During the Islamic periods, the containers characterized by narrow or pear-shaped glass-body with a round bottom and long drainage pipe or tube were known, but rarely have been studied. There are three different hypotheses for applications of such containers. A cupping glass(Shakh-i hajamat) for phlebotomize in medicine, “Alembic” for chemical or alchemical experiments, or containers for pharmaceuticals and the production of cosmetics and perfumes which has been used for making the materials and transfer them through tubes, or perfume containers as particular container for cosmetics. It seems that if the container is placed from the opening on a surface, then its pipe is wholly bent in the opposite direction of the body. Where it is taller than the body, it could be used or applied as a cupping glass for phlebotomize in medicine or as a container for materials in medications, cosmetics and perfumery. If the pipe is entirely straight and perpendicular to the body or slightly curved, it could be used for all three applications mentioned above. In Islamic periods, the Arabic word of KIMIA (elixir) was synonymous with alchemy and chemistry in the viewpoint of technology and therefore, includes a variety of processes, including distillation of herbs and medicinal oils, perfumes and rosewater, and fragrant oils and other substances. Some of tools and equipment used for alchemy have been made of glass like the distiller. There have been many pacts for using these kinds of container in the Islamic literature written by Abu Musa Jaber Ibn Hayyan (Around 721 to 815 AD) and Abū Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyā al-Rāzī (865 to 923 AD) who were known as the greatest scientists in the history of chemistry and chemical technology in the Islamic world. Their scientific and practical works have had a great impact on the scientists and researchers of the next generations, both Muslims and Europeans. Many methods, such as distillation and all kinds of basic related tools, such as Cucurbit (qar’a) and Alembic (al-inbīq) have been attributed to Jabir Ibn Hayyan. However, al-Razi in his book, Kitab al-asrar or Secret of alchemy, among the tools and devices for chemical processing (Tadbir) and distillation (Taqtir), has mentioned to them and studied the Cucurbit and Alembic with an outlet pipe, a distilled liquid container, recipient (qabila) and a blind Alembic (without an outlet pipe) (anbiq al'aemaa). As a matter of fact, the chemical composition of materials inside such containers discovered in Iran has not yet been studied, while it is a critical issue for the characterization and application of these containers. For the first time, one of such containers with a long and straight tube which was kept in the Glassware and Ceramic Museum of Iran has been analyzed and processed by the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) technique. The analysis of chemical compounds detected in this container revealed that it had been exposed to essential, and natural oils for a long time. The GC-MS analysis of the washing solution led to the identification of 22 substances, where the main identified compounds were: thymol, carvacrol, p-cymene and γ-terpinene, fatty acids (palmitic acid and stearic acid), and a significant number of substances of the waxes groups. Thymol and carvacrol are the main substances of natural essential oils of Thyme, Savory and Marjoram. Also, the findings of this research have proved the contact of the above-mentioned container with natural essential oils, especially thyme. The ingredients found in this container could be recognizable in many distillates. So, it can suggest that the container has been used as an Alembic for distillation and extraction of vegetable and volatile oil substances in pharmacy, cosmetics and perfumes. More analysis in the future on the contaminated materials within such containers can give more clues and advantages for clarifying the more possible application of these containers.
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Technical Note: Original Research | Subject: Archaeometry
Received: 2020/04/18 | Accepted: 2020/06/17 | Published: 2020/06/30 | ePublished: 2020/06/30

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