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Bezoars were introduced into Western medicine by Arabian doctors during the twelfth century. They were used as antidotes to arsenic, the poison used most commonly in European courts. The use of bezoars was widespread during the sixteenth century, and their value was ten times more than their weight in gold. These were rare and expensive items and many kings owned one or more specimens, some of which were mounted as pieces of jewelry. Sixteenth and seventeenth century physicians wrote extensively about them, describing their properties and use. ‘Oriental bezoars’ (mostly from Asian porcupines) were introduced at this time.

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