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  • John Murray
  • John Murray

Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones

Hettie Judah

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General & world history

A fascinating history of stones and the surprising ways they have - and continue to - shape, influence and inspire us, in a beautiful volume.

From the hematite used in cave paintings to the moldavite that became a TikTok sensation; from the stolen sandstone of Scone to the unexpected acoustics of Stonehenge; from crystal balls to compasses, rocks and minerals have always been central to our story.

3,000 years ago Babylonians constructed lapidaries - books that tried to pin down the magical secrets of rocks. In Lapidarium, renowned art critic Hettie Judah explores the unexpected stories behind sixty stones that have shaped and inspired human history, from Dorset fossil-hunters to Chinese philosophers, Catherine the Great to Michelangelo.

Discover why alchemists sought cinnabar and sulphur. Unearth the mystery of the tuff statues of Rapa Nui, the lost amber room of Frederick of Prussia and the scandal of Flint Jack. Find out how a Greek monster created coral, moon rock explains the history of Earth's only satellite and obsidian inspired the world's favourite computer game.

Stone by stone, story by fascinating story, Lapidarium builds into a dazzling, epoch-spanning adventure through human culture, and beyond.

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