The query of how one can create life doesn’t simply return to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, when the eponymous character used forbidden science to create life. Medieval scientists tried for hundreds of years to create miniature synthetic individuals utilizing human semen combined with different substances and implanted in an animal womb!
The homunculus is first referred to in alchemical writings of the 16 th century. It’s possible, nevertheless, that this idea is older than these writings. The concept miniature fully-formed individuals could be created has been traced to the early Middle Ages (400 to 1000 AD), and is partly based mostly on the Aristotelian perception that the sperm is larger than the ovum in its contribution to the manufacturing of offspring.
The homunculus is a diminutive humanoid creature believed to be created by way of magical alchemical means. nineteenth century engraving of Homunculus from Goethe’s Faust half II ( public domain ).
The primary identified account of the manufacturing of the homunculus is claimed to be present in an undated Arabic work referred to as the E book of the Cow , purportedly written by the Greek thinker Plato himself.
The supplies required for the creation of the homunculus embody human semen, a cow or ewe and animal blood, while the method contains the substitute insemination of the cow / ewe, smearing the inseminated animal’s genitals with the blood of one other animal, and feeding it completely on the blood of one other animal.
The pregnant animal would finally give delivery to an unformed substance, which might then be locations in a powder made from floor sunstone (a mystical phosphorescent elixir), sulphur, magnet, inexperienced tutia (a sulphate of iron) and the sap of a white willow. When the blob begins rising human pores and skin, it will be required to be positioned in a big glass or lead container for 3 days. After that, it needs to be fed with the blood of its decapitated mom for seven days earlier than turning into a fully-formed homunculus.
The 16 th century alchemist, Philip von Hohenheim, identified additionally as Paracelsus, gives a distinct recipe for creating the homunculus in his work, De Natura Rerum . This recipe makes use of a horse because the surrogate mom of the homunculus, and the semen of a person is left contained in the animal’s womb to putrefy for forty days, earlier than just a little man is born.
Quite than utilizing the homunculus to acquire supernatural powers as some scientists hoped, Paracelsus stated the homunculus should be “educated with the best care and zeal, till it grows up and begins to show intelligence.” Paracelsus additionally claims that the process for making the homunculus is likely one of the biggest secrets and techniques revealed by God to mortals, maybe suggesting that the creation of synthetic life is divine knowledge that could be utilized by human beings.
Learn extra: Alchemical Recipe for a Homunculus: Sperm + Rotting Meat = Mini Artificial Human
Prime picture: Medieval alchemists believed they may create a mini synthetic human. Supply: lidiia / Adobe Inventory
By Caleb Strom and Wu Mingren