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

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Acta Mus. Moraviae, Sci. Geol. 105 (2020), issue 2, pages 275-294

“Crapaudine”1 (Scheenstia teeth) – the jewel of Kings

Two inconspicuous brown stones 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 palaeontology 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.

1 The name “crapaudine” comes from the old French for toad stone.


Růžena Gregorová, Moravian Museum, Department Geology and Paleontology, Zelný trh 6, 659 37 Brno; rgregorova@mzm.cz
Martin Bohatý, Radnická 7, 602 00 Brno; rama.minerals@atlas.cz
Dana Stehlíková, Department of Classical Studies, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Arna Nováka 1, 602 00 Brno; dana.stehlikova@phil.muni.cz
Christopher Duffin, Palaeontology Section, Earth Science Faculty, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK and 146 Church Hill Road, Cheam, Sutton, Surrey SM3 8NF, UK; cduffin@blueyonder.co.uk

Gregorová, R., Bohatý, M., Stehlíková, D., Duffin, Ch., 2020: “Crapaudine” (Scheenstia teeth) – the jewel of Kings. – Acta Musei Moraviae, Scientiae geologicae, 105, 2, 277–294 (with Czech summary)
ISSN: 1211–8796