The name is the message: eagle-stones and materia medica in South America
This chapter presents one case history – the transfer of the name and virtues of ‘eagle-stones’ to Andean minerals and terebratulid brachiopods such as Clarkeia antisiensis. Eagle-stones, an ancient remedy of Asian origin, were used in early modern Europe to prevent abortion and as a charm to assist obstetric delivery. In the eighteenth century eagle-stones were the subject of what G. Baronti (Tra bambini e acque sporche Immersioni nella collezione di amuleti di Giuseppe Bellucci, Morlacchi, Perugia, 2008) calls the process of folklorization of European learned medicine, becoming a ‘superstition’ and a popular remedy of medical lore. Based on secondary bibliography and documents from the Archivo de Indias in Seville, the paper discusses the uses of eagle-stones in Spain and Spanish America in connection to the texts published, written or translated in the Iberian Peninsula (lapidaries, early modern medical books). The last section proposes clues to analyse the expansion of the trade in eagle-stones to Spanish America, to finally survey the references to ‘eagle-stones’ in Latin American popular medicine of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Eagle-stones are inscribed not only in the longue-durée but also in the intricate networks of commerce.