Article ID: CBB925961797

Psellos’ Petrified Root: Transmutations and Natural Wonders from Classical Antiquity to Byzantine Times (2020)


This paper analyses a specific case of petrifaction described by the Byzantine scholar Michael Psellos. It starts with a passage from Psellos’ How to Make Gold, which describes a petrified oak root, and gives an account of various instances of petrifaction reported by ancient authors. A distinction between hot and cold petrifactions is proposed along with a possible explanation for the petrified root, although it is uncertain whether ancient sources were dealing with an actual piece of petrified wood or one of the first recorded observations of fulgurites.

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Authors & Contributors
Morello, Nicoletta
Freeman, Michael J.
Peers, Glenn
Cavazza, William
Corsi, Pietro
Vai, Gian Battista
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
Jahrbuch der österreichischen Byzantinistik
Science and Education
Culture and Cosmos
Archives of Natural History
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Yale University Press
Publishers Enterprises Group Ltd.
Edizioni Della Normale
University of Connecticut
Columbia University Press
Earth sciences
Natural history
Historical geology; theory of the earth
Steno, Nicolaus
Psellos, Michael Constantinos
Descartes, René
Crane, Michael Denis
Miller, Edward
Conrad, Timothy Abbott
Time Periods
19th century
11th century
17th century
18th century
Great Britain
Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin
Geological Society of London

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