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Abstract:

‘Serpent stones’ have been credited with medical efficacy since antiquity. Likely having their root in ancient traditions from India, accounts are now widespread across much of the world. Serpent stones are known by many names and descriptions of their appearance and medical uses are diverse; however, they commonly have a legendary association with serpents and are most frequently considered efficacious in the alexipharmic treatment of snakebite. This work presents and details five broad categories of serpent stone: a round white stone (thought to be extracted from the head of a dragon), a smooth lens-shaped black stone (purported to be taken from the head of a snake, but artificially manufactured of burnt bone or horn), ammonites (the fossilized shells of extinct cephalopods), glass or vitreous paste in the form of rings or beads, and serpentinite.

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