Khem was an ancient name for the land of Egypt; and both the words alchemy and chemistry are derived from it. Egypt, because of the color of its fertile soil, was called "the black empire" and is referred to in the Old Testament as "the land of darkness." Alchemy has long been known as "the black art, " not in the sense of evil but in the sense of that darkness which has always enshrouded its secret processes.
The Chaldeans, Phœnicians, and Babylonians were familiar with the principles of alchemy, as were many early Asian races. It was practiced in Greece and Rome; was the master science of the Egyptians. According to the fragmentary writings of those early peoples, alchemy was to them no speculative art.