The idea of distillation was not fixed until comparatively recently. The technology developed in numerous cultures, at different times, and came to mean different things to different craftsmen. For example, around 2500 years ago Greek sailors boiled sea water to get a drink. Around 2100 years ago, following the same process to get spirit from wine was common. The Greeks used a container with a small mouth, covered by a bowl.
Later, a tube and a vessel at the bottom to catch the spirit were added, giving us something similar to the stills we know today. Alchemists in Alexandria has several different still types by the 1st century A.D, using them as much as part of a ritual as for the elements they produced. In fact, the fire and spirit of distillation, the mystic and chemical, remained entwined for centuries – it was the Persians and the Arabs who began to move the process towards a science, using large, elaborate stills to experiment in the 9th and 10th centuries. Although these early chemists apparently succeeded in distilling spirits, they too were on a quest for the elixir of life.