‘On the nature of stuff’ shows that the ability to control fire and temperature led to the first chemical technologies: the production of pottery from fired clays and tempers, metals, glass, and bitumen products. It goes on to describe the early speculation of matter by Greek philosophers, such as Empedocles and Aristotle, before discussing the history of alchemy in Europe and the Muslim empire. The same synonyms were often used for different substances resulting in confusion and secrecy. It was Isaac Newton (1642–1727) who compiled an index chemicus in an attempt to make sense of alchemical language and allegory. The demise of alchemy, the move from chymistry to chemistry, and the rise of modern chemistry are also considered.