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Mercury was found in Egyptian tombs that date from 1500 BC. In China and Tibet, mercury use was thought to prolong life, heal fractures, and maintain generally good health, although it is now known that exposure to mercury leads to serious adverse health effects. One of China's emperors, Qín Shǐ Huáng Dì — allegedly buried in a tomb that contained rivers of flowing mercury on a model of the land he ruled, representative of the rivers of China — was killed by drinking a mercury and powdered jade mixture formulated by Qin alchemists (causing liver failure, mercury poisoning, and brain death) who intended to give him eternal life. The ancient Greeks used mercury in ointments; the ancient Egyptians and the Romans used it in cosmetics which sometimes deformed the face. In Lamanai, once a major city of the Maya civilization, a pool of mercury was found under a marker in a Mesoamerican ballcourt. By 500 BC mercury was used to make amalgams (Medieval Latin amalgama, "alloy of mercury") with other metals. Alchemists thought of mercury as the First Matter from which all metals were formed. They believed that different metals could be produced by varying the quality and quantity of sulfur contained within the mercury. The purest of these was gold, and mercury was called for in attempts at the transmutation of base (or impure) metals into gold, which was the goal of many alchemists. Hg is the modern chemical symbol for mercury. It comes from hydrargyrum, a Latinized form of the Greek word Ύδραργυρος (hydrargyros), which is a compound word meaning "water-silver" (hydr- = water, argyros = silver) — since it is liquid like water and shiny like silver. The element was named after the Roman god Mercury, known for speed and mobility. It is associated with the planet Mercury; the astrological symbol for the planet is also one of the alchemical symbols for the metal; the Indian word for alchemy is Rasavātam which means "the way of mercury". Mercury is the only metal for which the alchemical planetary name became the common name. The mines in Almadén (Spain), Monte Amiata (Italy), and Idrija (now Slovenia) dominated the mercury production from the opening of the mine in Almadén 2500 years ago until new deposits were found at the end of the 19th century. Source: Wikipedia
Source:Basic Chemistry 3rd edition
Mercury and its compounds have been used in medicine, although they are much less common today than they once were, now that the toxic effects of mercury and its compounds are more widely understood. The element mercury is an ingredient in dental amalgams. Thiomersal (called Thimerosal in the United States) is an organic compound...