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Mary the Jewess

Maria the Jewess[1] probably lived in the third century A.D.[2] She was an early practitioner of alchemy in the West. Several sources equate Maria the Jewess to Miriam, Moses' sister, or to Mary Magdalene. The Bain-marie is attributed to her. Also attributed to her are the invention of the alchemical apparatus known as the kerotakis and the tribikos.

The cryptic alchemical precept: "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth." has been attributed to Maria Prophetissa and was called the Axiom of Maria. Psychologist Carl Jung used this as a metaphor for the process of wholeness and individuation.

The most concrete mention of her name in the context of alchemy is by Zosimos of Panopolis, who wrote in the 4th century the oldest alchemy books known.[3]

She perfected the 3-armed distillation chamber or still. In her writings, she recommends that the copper or bronze used to create the tubes be the thickness of a frying-pan, and the joint between these tubes and the still-head be sealed with flour-paste. She is also credited with the invention of the water-bath or bain-marie.[4]


  1. ^ Or Maria Prophetissima, Maria Prophetissa, Mary Prophetissa, Miriam the Prophetess
  2. ^ Chemical History Tour, Picturing Chemistry from Alchemy to Modern Molecular Science Adele Droblas Greenberg Wiley-Interscience 2000 ISBN 0-471-35408-2
  3. ^ José María de Jaime Lorén. 2003. Epónimos científicos. Baño María. María La Judía. Universidad Cardenal Herrera-CEU. (Moncada, Valencia).
  4. ^ E.J. Holmyard, Alchemy, 1957 (New York: Dover, 1990), pp. 48f
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Mary_the_Jewess". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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