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Periodic Table: Historical Aspects

  1. Dennis H. Rouvray

Published Online: 15 DEC 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9781119951438.eibc0266

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry

How to Cite

Rouvray, D. H. 2011. Periodic Table: Historical Aspects. Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 DEC 2011


The periodic table effectively embodies a summary of the entire realm of chemistry. Because of this, the table is one of the most important classifications of the natural world. However, the table could not be constructed before the concept of the chemical element had been clarified in the mid-seventeenth century. Additionally, an ordering of the elements was not possible until a method had been devised of associating a number with each element, that is, the atomic weight or, nowadays, the atomic number. The periodic table evolved gradually over half a century, starting with the ordered triads of elements of Döbereiner in 1817 and culminating in the publication of the 63-element table of Mendeleev in 1869. After its appearance, the table was confronted with several problems, including the accommodation of the noble gases, allowance for the existence of elemental isotopes, and the placement of the lanthanide and actinide elements. In spite of many such challenges, the periodic table has stood the test of time and is now widely viewed as one of the greatest achievements of the human intellect.


  • periodic table;
  • chemical elements;
  • atomic number;
  • history;
  • classification;
  • Mendeleev;
  • periodicity