Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Literature


Melitta Adamson


This thesis traces the development of medical lapidaries and therapeutic uses for stones recorded in medical literature from Antiquity to the mid-twelfth century in Europe. I argue that medical lapidaries were a sub-genre of drug manuals and probably used in medical practice. I support this claim by illustrating that the therapeutic uses for stones found in a selection of lapidaries show strong similarities with those found in contemporary pharmacopoeias, and reflect folk or learned medicine of the time. Furthermore, I carry out a “case study” on Hildegard of Bingen’s lapidary and show how its pathology corresponds with that developed in her naturo-scientific writings. Since humoural pathology formed the basis for much of medical practice in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, I consider the Coimection between drugs and humours, and reveal Greco-Roman origin for the linkage of stones with humoural theory. Hildegard of Bingen is shown as the first medieval European writer to make this coιmection.



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