© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Genesis of the world of the elements between the celestial world of light and the chaotic underworld, inspired by engravings in Athanasius Kircher's (1602-1680) 'Mundus Subterraneus', published 1665-1678. Kircher showed a subterranean central fire linked directly to volcanoes and underground waters feeding the superterrestrial seas. Johann Joachim Becher (1635-1682) describes it thus: 'Earth thickens and attracts, water breaks down and purifies, air makes fluide and dries, fire divides and completes'. Illustration from Becher's 'Tripus Hermeticus Fatidicus' ('The Prophetical Hermetic Tripod'), published in Frankfurt in 1689.