Four Elements. Classical elements typically refer to the concepts of earth, water, air, fire, and aether, which were proposed to explain the nature and complexity of all matter in terms of simpler substances.
   Ancient cultures in Persia, Greece, Babylonia, Japan, Tibet, and India had similar lists, sometimes referring in local languages to air as wind and the fifth element as void. The Chinese Wu Xing system lists Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, though these are described more as energies or transitions rather than as types of material.
   These different cultures and even individual philosophers had widely varying explanations concerning their attributes and how they related to observable phenomena as well as cosmology. Sometimes these theories overlapped with mythology and were personified in deities.
   Some of these interpretations included atomism, but other interpretations considered the elements to be divisible into infinitely small pieces without changing their nature. While the classification of the material world in ancient Indian, Hellenistic Egypt, and ancient Greece into Air, Earth, Fire and Water was more philosophical, during the Islamic Golden Age medieval middle eastern scientists used practical, experimental observation to classify materials.
   In Europe, the Ancient Greek system of Aristotle evolved slightly into the medieval system, which for the first time in Europe became su
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