“Crapaudine” (Scheenstia teeth) – the jewel of Kings



Year of publication 2020
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Acta Musei Moraviae, Scientiae geologicae
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Web http://scigeo.actamm.cz/en/crapaudine-scheenstia-teeth-the-jewel-of-kings/
Keywords “crapaudine”; Aachen; Charlemagne; Charles IV.; crown; fish; History of Palaeontology; Scheenstia; teeth; toad stone
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Description Two inconspicuous brownstones in the crown on the reliquary bust of Charlemagne held in the Treasury of Aachen Cathedral are set next to cameos, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones. Rather unusually, they are the button-shaped teeth of a Mesozoic fish called Scheenstia (Lepidotes) maximus (WAGNER, 1863). In the Middle Ages, the prevailing belief was that these stones came from the heads of ancient toads and they were attributed magical, protective, and healing powers on the basis of sympathetic medicine. The most important of these fabulous properties was the ability to detect and neutralize poisons. This paper presents a short chronological overview of the historical records of toad stones from Antiquity to the emergence of scientific paleontology as a basis for future study. The principal European palaeontological localities yielding Scheenstia maximus (WAGNER, 1863) are summarised as possible historical sources for these particular stones. A number of specimens have been studied from museum collections for comparative purposes.
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