Marco Beretta

Scientific uses of wax in Antiquity

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As a natural product of the bees, wax was regarded by the ancients as a perfect synthesis between "physis" and "techne". The article briefly explores the role of wax among ancient authors of scientific texts. It shows that the manufacturing of anatomical wax models became relatively common within the Greek practice of medical and magical "ex-voto", and that wax also inspired philosophers and rational physicians. Wax was also used by Greek and Roman authors to perform experiments, in pharmacological remedies and in alchemical recipes. This variety of uses obliges us to reassess the traditional historiography vision which sharply separates the ancient world of natural sciences from that of the technical arts and crafts.

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