Sulfur, chemical symbol S, has beeen known since antiquity, and its occurrence in the natural state in Sicily insured its availability to the early Mediterranean civilizations. Homer mentioned its medicinal properties about 900 BC, and the fumes of burning sulfur (sulfur dioxide, SO2) have long been used for bleaching textiles and for fumigation.
The name can be traced to the Sanskrit word sulveni which was the basis of the Roman word sulphurium. It is also known as brimstone from the German word Brennstein meaning burning stone. To the alchemist sulfur, along with mercury, was an essential ingredient of all metals, and it was not until the work of the French chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier in the late eighteenth century that it was classified as a chemical element.