Antimony and its compounds have been known from times immemorial. Some scholars say that metallic antimony was used in South Babylon for making vessels about 3400 years B.C. but in antiquity antimony was mainly used for making cosmetics such as rouge and black paint for eye brows. In Egypt, however, antimony was apparently unknown or almost unknown. This is borne out by finds from Egyptian burial sites, particularly, by painted mummies.
In antiquity antimony was confused with lead. It was only in alchemical literature of the Renaissance period that antimony was given a sufficiently accurate description. For example, G. Agricola clearly pointed out that antimony is a metal different from other metals. Basilius Valentinus devoted to antimony a whole treatise, Triumphal Carraige of Antimonium, in which he described the uses of antimony and its compounds.
There are several interpretations of the Latin name of antimony antimonium. Most likely it originates from the Greek word antimonos, which means “an enemy of solitude”, and underlines simultaneous occurrence of antimony and other minerals.