This alembic is pretty old

02 August 2013 - Chemical archeology vacation

alambiek.JPGAlready briefly mentioned in the virtual 2008 chemistry vacation this blog this year actually visited Fortress Sonnenborgh in Utrecht. Here is the report!
Most people visit to see the guns or the astronomical observatory but at the bottom of the fortress is situated the chemical laboratory of Conrad Barchusen, local university professor between 1702 and 1723. Today it is not much to look at: basically a dungeon equipped with an oven. The fortress was already in disuse when Barchusen took over so ideally suited for heating stuff and blowing things up without hurting anyone. Some if the inventory wound up in the cesspit from which an alembic was rescued, now on display (see photo, entry dungeon in the back).

The information display mentioned that even more equipment from the laboratory was uncovered and located in a museum nearby. But which museum and where? The guy at the ticket booth was not much of a help, he did not even know the laboratory existed in the first place ("sorry, I started this job only recently"). The information people in the museum next door were not much help either, this museum does have an archaeological department but the displays are messy to say the least. Lots of stuff displayed in display cases but without any description. Yes ancient looking test tubes are among them (photo below) but these might just as well be Roman. Where did all the Barchusens stuff go? Back into the cesspit?