Course: Science Subtest II
Lesson: Structure and Properties of Matter
Topic: Introduction      Page 6 of 8  

History of Chemistry

The word chemistry comes from the Egyptian word keme, meaning earth. The recognition of chemistry as distinct from alchemy [ ] is usually marked as the starting point of the history of chemistry. This critical distinction was first made by Robert Boyle in his work The Sceptical Chymist (1661).

Both chemistry and alchemy are concerned with the nature of matter and the transformation of matter. In contrast to alchemists, however, chemists apply the scientific method to their observations of the natural world. It wasn't until Robert Boyle's distinction and scientific foundation of chemistry that chemistry was established as a legitimate scientific field of study.

For more on how the history of chemistry relates to other fields, see Lesson 5, Topic 2: The History of Thermodynamics.

Learn more about the history of chemistry: