The Panopolis Project

Critical Forays into the Hellenistic-Egyptian Alchemical World

THE PANOPOLIS PROJECT is a new series of peer-reviewed studies focusing on the Egyptian and Hellenistic sources of the Byzantine, Islamicate, and European alchemical traditions. The principle purpose of this project is to provide translations of material previously unavailable in English, along with commentaries and dedicated studies.

The project takes its name from the birthplace of Zosimos of Panopolis, one of the most significant Egyptian alchemists from the Hellenistic period. Panopolis, the ninth nome of Upper Egypt, was originally known as Khent-min among the Pharaohs, Khemmis and Panopolis among the Greeks, and Akhmim among the Copts and Arabs. Panopolis thus alludes to an extremely rich nexus of historical and religious influences running through Egyptian, Greek, Hellenistic, Coptic, and Islamicate  cultures—all of which impinge upon the history of alchemy. Given that Zosimos himself also encompasses a wide range of esoteric practices—from Hermetic, Gnostic, and apocryphal Judaic soteriologies, to operative alchemical practices proper, we thus enter a genuinely invigorating environment for investigating the origins and early development of alchemy.

While the project is not meant to limit itself to Zosimos exclusively, nor to Hellenistic alchemy alone, the figure of Zosimos alerts us to the presence of what we might call a ‘Panopolitan’ alchemical tradition, with its roots deep in the black earth of Upper Egypt—a southern Egyptian counterpart to the more famous centre of Alexandria in the North. Under the shadows of the divine temples, and extending down into Islamic times through figures such as Dhu ’l-Nun, Panopolis remained a long-standing nucleus for a uniquely Egyptian Hermetic tradition.

Volume 1. Lexicon of Goldmaking:
A Key to the Graeco-Egyptian Alchemical Corpus

Edited, with translation and commentary by

Aaron Cheak, PhD
D E A Burnham
Kyle Fraser, PhD

The first volume of the Panopolis Project is a translation of the Lexikon kata stoicheion tēs chrysopoiias (The Alphabetical Lexicon of Goldmaking).