(c. 721—815) Arab chemist

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(c.721–c.815) Arabian alchemist

Geber seems to have spent his life among the political uncertainties of the decline of the Umayyad dynasty. His father was executed for his part in a plot to oust the caliph and Geber, who was born in Tus (now in Iran), was sent to southern Arabia. He became a courtier to Harun al-Rashid (of Arabian Nights fame) but fell out of favor in 803 and left Baghdad for Kufah, where he probably remained for the rest of his life. He was a Sufi as well as being connected with the Isma'ilite sect.

A large number of works carry his name, which is now usually taken to refer to a corpus as a whole without implying actual authorship by one individual. The most important works are The 112 Books, The 70 Books, The 10 Books of Rectification, and The Books of the Balances. Geber believed that everything is composed of a combination of earth, water, fire, and air. These elements combined to form mercury and sulfur from which he believed all metals are formed, a view that continued until Robert Boyle. He further held that if the right proportions of each were combined they would produce gold. Geber's theory was of considerable influence on alchemy and the early development of chemistry.

Geber is regarded as the father of Arabian chemistry. In the 14th century his name was adopted by an anonymous Spanish alchemist to add authority to his work.

Subjects: Science and Mathematics — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).

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