Four elements

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A visual of the four elements: earth, air, water, and fire, of pre-18th century classical science.

In science, four elements (TR:3) (LH:2) (TL:5) refers to the Greek science model that all things were comprised of four "roots" (Empedocles, 445BC) or "elements" (Plato, 375BC), which were: earth, air, water, and fire.


In 800BC to 300BC, all the Greeks travelled to Egypt to study in their universities, e.g. Memphis, Heliopolis, Thebes, and Hermopolis (mathematics), wherein they learned a variation of the Heliopolis creation myth, according to which, based on the 150-day annual Nile river flood, the universe existed originally in a state of watery (element #1) void-like darkness, out of which the earth (element #2) rose, in the form of the god Atum, out of which the sun god or fire (element #3) was born, in the form of the bennu bird (phoenix), then Atum created air or Shu (element #4), as shown below:

Pyramid (four elements).png

Eventually the gods Atum and Ra became merged as Atum-Ra, wherein the model became:

Four elements (God labeled).png

The Greeks, starting with Thales, took this basic model of god based elements, and scrubbed out the gods, but kept the elements:

Four elements 2.png

Wherein, Shu becomes air, Nun becomes water, Ra becomes fire, and Geb becomes earth. The development of the Greek alphabet, loosely, albeit not exactly, followed the steps of creation seen in this myth.

Upon return, Thales (575BC), regarded “water” as the primordial element (first principle); Anaximenes (550BC) “air”; Heraclitus (475BC) “fire”; Parmenides (475BC) or the Eleatics “earth”; and eventually Empedocles subsumed all of this to make the four elements and two force model of things.[1]

In 320BC, Aristotle adopted this four element theory, after which it held sway in the minds of people, for about 1,800-years.

92 elements

In c.1750, the four element model began to be upgraded to the 92 elements ordered on a periodic table model.


The following are quotes:

“Nothing ever delighted me so much as the discovery that there were no elements of earth, fire, or water.”
Percy Shelley (1804), reflection on his age 14 encounter with chemistry at Eton College [2]

End matter


  1. Onderwater, Hans. (2012). “Empedocles: World View”,
  2. Rossetti, William R. (1866). A Memoir of Shelley: with Fresh Preface (pg. 8). Shelley Society.

External links

Theta Delta ics T2.jpg