The Old Ashmolean Museum and Oxford's Seventeenth-Century Chymical Community: A Material Culture Approach To Laboratory Experiments.
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Veronesi, U., & Martinon-Torres, M. (2022). The Old Ashmolean Museum and Oxford's Seventeenth-Century Chymical Community: A Material Culture Approach To Laboratory Experiments.. Ambix https://doi.org/10.1080/00026980.2021.2012314
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, Oxford's chymical community came together in the Ashmolean Museum. Founded in 1683, the institution was part of Oxford University and home to the first official chair of chymistry in the country, with practical teaching directed by Robert Plot in the basement laboratory. The information at our disposal is scarce and Plot did not leave us detailed accounts of his laboratory work. However, a large assemblage of ceramic crucibles and distillation apparatus was recovered from the site where the laboratory once operated, an invaluable material perspective on the experimental agenda of one of the most important chymical laboratories in early modern Europe. The scientific analysis of the materials indicates that the work focused on technological innovation in the fields of glassmaking, specialised pottery, and zinc metallurgy, and shows how the laboratory kept close contact with some renowned artisan-entrepreneurs of the time. We argue that material culture offers an informative perspective on chymical practice in and beyond Oxford. The results provide fresh insight into the Old Ashmolean Museum, an institution that grew out of the Baconian spirit, where doing chymistry meant working at the intersection of artisanal and scholarly worlds.
This study is part of U. Veronesi’s PhD project, generously funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP) scheme (Award ref. 1738300). The initial work on the assemblage was supported by an AHRC Fellowship to M. Martinón-Torres (Award ref. AH/I022228/1).
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00026980.2021.2012314
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/331400
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