Monday, September 13, 2010

The Stone of Secrets

The tombstone of alchemist Nicholas Flamel (ca. 1333-1418), Paris. The stone is decorated with alchemical symbols, the meaning of which is much debated among contemporary alchemists. By the seventeenth century it was widely rumored that Flamel had developed an "elixir of life" that made him immortal, and you can still find discussion on alchemical websites of whether Flamel might still be alive. In The Hunchback of Notre Dame Victor Hugo wrote that amateur archaeologists had repeatedly dug up the site of Flamel's house looking for the Philosopher's Stone, but I can't find any confirmation of this, and a house said to be Flamel's is still standing.

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