(see Sulphur). Pure specimens are difficult to obtain. It is very soluble in cold water, a large fall of temperature accompanying solution.
Ammonium sulphide, (NH4)2S, is obtained, in the form of micaceous crystals, by passing sulphuretted hydrogen mixed with a slight excess of ammonia through a well-cooled vessel; the hydrosulphide NH4·HS is formed at the same time. It dissolves readily in water, but is probably partially dissociated in solution. The hydrosulphide NH4·HS can be obtained as a white solid, by mixing well-cooled ammonia with a slight excess of sulphuretted hydrogen. According to W. P. Bloxam (Jour. of Chem. Soc., 1895, lxvii. p. 283), if sulphuretted hydrogen is passed into strong aqueous ammonia at ordinary temperature, the compound (NH4)2S·2NH4HS is obtained, which, on cooling to 0° C. and passing more sulphuretted hydrogen, forms the compound (NH4)2S·12NH4HS. An ice-cold solution of this substance kept at 0° C. and having sulphuretted hydrogen continually passed through it gives the hydrosulphide. Several complex polysulphides of ammonium have been isolated, for details of which see Bloxam’s paper quoted above. Compounds are known which may be looked upon as derived from ammonia by the replacement of its hydrogen by the sulpho-group (HSO3); thus potassium ammon-trisulphonate, N(SO3K)3·2H2O, is obtained as a crystalline precipitate on the addition of excess of potassium sulphite to a solution of potassium nitrite, KNO2 + 3K2SO3 + 2H2O = N(SO3K)3 + 4KHO. It can be recrystallized by solution in alkalies. On boiling with water, it is converted, first into the disulphonate NH(SO3K)2 thus, N(SO3K)3 + H2O = NH(SO3K)2 + KHSO4, and ultimately into the monosulphonate NH2·SO3K. The disulphonate is more readily obtained by moistening the nitrilosulphonate with dilute sulphuric acid and letting it stand for twenty-four hours, after which it is recrystallized from dilute ammonia. It forms monosymmetric crystals which by boiling with water yield amidosulphonic acid. (See also E. Divers, Jour. of Chem. Soc., 1892, lxi. p. 943.) Amidosulphoiric acid crystallizes in prisms, slightly soluble in water, and is a stable compound.
Ammonia and ammonium salts can be readily detected, in very minute traces, by the addition of Nessler’s solution, which gives a distinct yellow coloration in the presence of the least trace of ammonia or ammonium salts. Larger quantities can be detected by warming the salts with a caustic alkali or with quicklime, when the characteristic smell of ammonia will be at once apparent. The amount of ammonia in ammonium salts can be estimated quantitatively by distillation of the salts with sodium or potassium hydroxide, the ammonia evolved being absorbed in a known volume of standard sulphuric acid and the excess of acid then determined volumetrically; or the ammonia may be absorbed in hydrochloric acid and the ammonium chloride so formed precipitated as ammonium chlorplatinate, (NH4)2PtCl6.
AMMONIACUM, or Gum Ammoniac, a gum-resin exuded from the stem of a perennial herb (Dorema ammoniacum), natural order Umbelliferae. The plant grows to the height of 8 or 9 ft., and its whole stem is pervaded with a milky juice, which oozes out on an incision being made at any part. This juice quickly hardens into round tears, forming the “tear ammoniacum” of commerce. “Lump ammoniacum,” the other form in which the substance is met with, consists of aggregations of tears, frequently incorporating fragments of the plant itself, as well as other foreign bodies. Ammoniacum has a faintly fetid, unpleasant odour, which becomes more distinct on heating; externally it possesses a reddish-yellow appearance, and when the tears or lumps are freshly fractured they exhibit a waxy lustre. It is chiefly collected in central Persia, and comes to the European market by way of Bombay. Ammoniacum is closely related to asafetida and galbanum (from which, however, it differs in yielding no umbelliferone) both in regard to the plant which yields it and its therapeutical effects. Internally it is used in conjunction with squills in bronchial affections; and in asthma and chronic colds it is found useful, but it has no advantages over a number of other substances of more constant and active properties (Sir Thomas Fraser). Only the “tear ammoniacum” is official.
African ammoniacum is the product of a plant said to be Ferula tingitana, which grows in North Africa; it is a dark coloured gum-resin, possessed of a very weak odour and a persistent acrid taste.
AMMONITES, or the “children of Ammon,” a people of east Palestine who, like the Moabites, traced their origin to Lot, the nephew of the patriarch Abraham, and must have been regarded, therefore, as closely related to the Israelites and Edomites. Both the Ammonites and Moabites are sometimes spoken of under the common name of the children of Lot (Deut. ii. 19; Ps. lxxxiii. 8); and the whole history shows that they preserved throughout the course of their national existence a sense of the closest brotherhood. According to the traditions, the original territory of the two tribes was the country lying immediately on the east of the Dead Sea, and of the lower half of the Jordan, having the Jabbok for its northern boundary; and of this tract the Ammonites laid claim to the northern portion between the Arnon and the Jabbok, out of which they had expelled the Zamzummim (Judg. xi. 13; Deut. ii. 20 sqq.; cf. Gen. xiv. 5), though apparently it had been held, in part at least, conjointly with the Moabites, or perhaps under their supremacy (Num. xxi. 26, xxii. 1; Josh. xiii. 32). From this their original territory they had been in their turn expelled by Sihon, king of the Amorites, who was said to have been found by the Israelites, after their deliverance from Egypt, in possession of both Gilead and Bashan, that is, of the whole country on the left bank of the Jordan, lying to the north of the Arnon (Num. xxi. 13). By this invasion, as the Moabites were driven to the south of the Arnon, which formed their northern boundary from that time, so the Ammonites were driven out of Gilead across the upper waters of the Jabbok where it flows from south to north, which henceforth continued to be their western boundary (Num. xxi. 24; Deut. ii. 37, iii. 16). The other limits of the Ammonitis, or country of the Ammonites (Άμμανῖτες χῶρα, 2 Mac. iv. 26), there are no means of exactly defining. On the south it probably adjoined the land of Moab; on the north it may have met that of the king of Geshur (Josh. xii. 5); and on the east it probably melted away into the desert peopled by Amalekites and other nomadic races.
The chief city of the country, called Rabbah, or Rabbath of the children of Ammon, i.e. the metropolis of the Ammonites (Deut. iii. 11), and Rabbathammana by the later Greeks (Polyb, v. 7. 4), whose name was changed into Philadelphia by Ptolemy Philadelphus, a large and strong city with an acropolis, was situated on both sides of a branch of the Jabbok, bearing at the present day the name of Nahr ‘Ammān, the river of Ammon, whence the designation “city of waters” (2 Sam. xii. 27; see Survey of E. Pal (Pal. Explor. Fund), pp. 19 sqq. The ruins called Ammān by the natives are extensive and imposing. The country to the south and east of Ammān is distinguished by its fertility; and ruined towns are scattered thickly over it, attesting that it was once occupied by a population which, however fierce, was settled and industrious, a fact indicated also by the tribute of corn paid annually to Jotham (2 Chron. xxvii. 5).
The traditional history of Ammon as related in the Old Testament is not free from obscurity, due to the uncertain date of the various references and to the doubt whether the individual details belong to the particular period to which each is ascribed. (See further Moab.) From the Assyrian inscriptions we learn that the Ammonite king Ba’sa (Baasha) (son) of Ruhubi, with 1000 men joined Ahab and the Syrian allies against Shalmaneser II. at the battle of Karkar in 854. In 734 their king Sanip(b)u was a vassal of Tiglathpileser IV., and his successor, P(b)udu-ilu, held the same position under Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. Somewhat later, their king Amminadab was among the tributaries who suffered in the course of the great Arabian campaign of Assurbanipal. With the neighbouring tribes, the Ammonites helped the Babylonian monarch Nebuchadrezzar against Jehoiakim (2 Kings xxiv. 2); and if they joined Zedekiah’s conspiracy (Jer. xxvii. 3), and were threatened by the Babylonian army (Ezek. xxi. 20 sqq.), they do not appear to have suffered punishment at that period, perhaps on account of a timely submission. When, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the fugitive Jews were again gathered together, it was at the instigation of Baalis, king of Ammon, that Gedaliah, the ruler whom Nebuchadrezzar had appointed over them, was murdered, and new calamities were incurred (Jer. xl. 14); and