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Geology and Medicine: Historical Connections

Product Code: SP452
Series: GSL Special Publications - print copy
Author/Editor: Edited by C.J. Duffin, C. Gardner-Thorpe and R.T.J. Moody
Publication Date: 06 July 2017
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Special Publication 452

The development of the geological and medical sciences shows overlap through numerous historical threads, some of which are investigated here by an international authorship of geologists, historians and medical professionals.
Some of the medical men considered here are the relatively well known Steno, Parkinson, William Hunter and Peter Duncan, as well as several more obscure individuals such as Sperling, Hodges, Lemoine, Siqués and a number of Italians. Their work included foundational geological studies, aspects of hydrogeology and the nature of fossils.
The therapeutic use of geological materials has been practised since ancient times. A suite of magico-medicinal stones, some purportedly harvested from the bodies of fabulous animals, have ancient folklore roots and were worn as protective amulets and incorporated into medicines. Medicinal earths were credited with wide-ranging medicinal properties.
Geology and Medicine: Historical Connections  will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, medical personnel, historians of science and the general reader with an interest in science.

Published online 29/06/2017. Print copies available from 06/07/2017.

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This volume is a follow up to the very successful A History of Geology and Medicine (Special Publication 375). Buy a print copy of SP375. View SP375 content on the Lyell Collection.

      History of Geology and Medicine, A

Type: Book
Ten Digit ISBN:
Thirteen Digit ISBN: 9781786202833
Publisher: GSL
Binding: Hardback
Pages: 304
Weight: 0.85 kg


Duffin, C. J. Men, methods and materials: exploring the historical connections between geology and medicine

Men and methods

Hoch, E. Earth science as a philosophical background to medicine: an essay based on the autobiography of Dr Otto Sperling (1602–81)

Mather, J. D. & Duffin, C. J. Nathaniel Hodges and the purging wells of Shooter’s Hill

Porro, A., Franchini, A. F., Falconi, B., Galimberti, P. M. & Lorusso, L. Water and the city of Milan at the end of the nineteenth century

Pantaloni, M., Console, F., Lorusso, L., Petti, F. M., Franchini, A. F., Porro, A. & Romano, M. Italian physicians’ contribution to geosciences

Liston, J. J. & Alcalá, L. The obstetrician, the surgeon and the premature birth of the world’s first dinosaur: William Hunter and James Parkinson

Sabaté Casellas, F. & Torres Gallardo, B. Pau Estorch Siqués (1805–71) and his ‘magnes venenorum’

Carter, T. & Spurgeon, A. Duncan and Son: changing professional boundaries in the geological and medical sciences in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Buffetaut, E. From giant birds to X-rays: Victor Lemoine (1837–97), physician and palaeontologist


Retsas, S. Geotherapeutics: the medicinal use of earths, minerals and metals from antiquity to the twenty-first century

Photos-Jones, E., Edwards, C., Häner, F., Lawton, L., Keane, C., Leanord, A. & Perdikatsis, V. Archaeological medicinal earths as antibacterial agents: the case of the Basel Lemnian sphragides

Carrasco, J. & Duffin, C. J. Alectorius: a parasympathomimetic stone?

Pymm, R. ‘Serpent stones’: myth and medical application

Pymm, R. ‘A charm to impose on the vulgar’: the medicinal and magical applications of the snakestone bead within the British Isles

Podgorny, I. The name is the message: eagle-stones and materia medica in South America

Duffin, C. J. ‘Fish’, fossil and fake: medicinal unicorn horn

Blaen, T. ‘Not used to be worn as a Jewel’: The wearing of precious stones in early modern England – ornaments or medicine?

Barroso, M. do S. Coral in Petrus Hispanus’ ‘Treasury of the Poor’

Bergman, B. P. Lead, isotopes and ice: a deadly legacy revealed



Richard Porter

Featured in Geocientist Vol. 28 No. 4

This is a well-produced volume of varied topics that examines the relationships between geology and medicine. It makes fascinating reading and once dipped into is compelling and even difficult to put down. The volume is well illustrated with many monochrome maps, figures and drawings of historic origin, but the lively text is also enhanced with many illustrations in colour.

It will be of specific interest to Earth scientists and those with an interest in the medical profession, be that as a medical professional or just as an interested individual. This volume will also appeal to the general reader with an interest in science. It will not disappoint and is highly recommended.

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