From Gods to men: A historical overview of the discovery of the chemical elements
Pellón González, Inés
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Estudios Geológicos-Madrid 70(2) : (2014) // Article ID e015
To achieve the apparently simple Periodic Table of the Elements has implied tremendous efforts over thousands of years. In this paper we present a brief history of the discovery of the chemical elements from prehistory to the present day, revealing the controversies that arose on the way and claiming the important work performed by alchemists in the advancement of knowledge. This is especially important if we consider that alchemy had a period of existence of many thousands of years, while the "Chemistry", officially established as a science in the eighteenth century, has operated as such for only a few hundred years. Even so, if we consider the progress of discovery and isolation of chemical elements throughout history, it can be observed that the number of elements identified is achieved mainly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, reflecting the development of instrumental techniques, that facilitated this task.