Antimony


Antimony in the form of its natural sulfide was known to the ancients and was used by them as cosmetic and medicine. The Old Testament refers to its use by Jezebel as a cosmetic for the eyes. The early Egyptian women also adorned their eyes with antimony sulfide as evidenced by its presence amongst the articles discovered in the ancient tombs.

Pliny in his writings during the 1st century a.D. describes seven remedies that can be obtained from the use of stibium (antimony sulfide). Metallic antimony was mentioned in the early works of Dioscorides written in the 1st century a.D.

The art of producing metallic antimony was well known by the 17th century. Basil Valentine described its preparation in his work "Triumphal Chariot of Antimony" probably written in 1350 a.D. but published in 1604. Libavius in 1615 described the use of iron to reduce stibnite directly to metallic antimony. Lemery in this book "Cours de Chemie" published in 1675 also describes methods for its preparation. There is no doubt that the metal was well known to the artisans of the Middle Ages.

The name antimony was obtained from the Latin term antimonium which first appeared in a Latin translation of the work by Ceber.