Lithotherapeutical research sources from antiquity to the mid-eighteenth century
Published:January 01, 2013
Christopher J. Duffin, 2013. "Lithotherapeutical research sources from antiquity to the mid-eighteenth century", A History of Geology and Medicine, C. J. Duffin, R. T. J. Moody, C. Gardner-Thorpe
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Geopharmaceuticals have a recorded history of use by a wide range of cultures for over 3000 years. The history of geological simples is written in the leaves of a diversity of literary sources, an overview of which is attempted for the first time. Egyptian medical papyri, Assyrian and Babylonian clay tablets, Indian Puranas, plus ancient Chinese, classical Greek and Roman writings all preserve a folk tradition of therapeutic earths, rocks, minerals and fossils. Anglo-Saxon Laeceboc, medieval Islamic writings, and Western medieval bestiaries all contain scattered references to geological simples. A surge of appreciation for geopharmaceuticals took place with the onset of the Western medieval lapidary tradition, which influenced the writings of the early encyclopaedists and writers of herbals. With the advent of printing, many classical and newly translated Islamic texts were made more readily available, stimulating a burst of scholarship by early modern scientists of the Renaissance. Increasingly detailed illustrations were used to embellish the catalogues of Renaissance Wunderkammern. By the late eighteenth century, the use of geological materials was declining, and being replaced by a more empirical approach to pharmacology.
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A History of Geology and Medicine
The historical links between geology and medicine are surprisingly numerous and diverse. This, the first ever volume dedicated to the subject, contains contributions from an international authorship of geologists, historians and medical professionals.
Rocks, minerals, fossils and earths have been used therapeutically since earliest times and details recorded on ancient papyri, clay tablets, medieval manuscripts and early published sources. Pumice was used to clean teeth, antimony to heal wounds, clays as antidotes to poison, gold to cure haemorrhoids and warts, and gem pastes to treat syphilis and the plague, while mineral springs preserved health. Geology was crucial in the development of public health. Medical men who made important contributions to geology include Steno, Worm, Parkinson, Bigsby, William Hunter, Jenner, John Hulke, Conan Doyle, Gorini and various Antarctic explorers.
A History of Geology and Medicine will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, medical personnel, historians of science and the general reader who has an interest in science.