Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD near Pompeii) called fossils of these animals ammonis cornua (“horns of Ammon”) because the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was typically depicted wearing ram’s horns

Yellowish and reddish stones , some crusted over with a brinish substance, which their smell and taste resembled Coperas, Nitre and Brimstone; and also great store of  Pyrites, in colour like brass. Near , at Huntly Nabb, the shore (which for a long was has lain open) now rises into high rocks; and here and there, at the bottom of the rocks, lie great stones of several sizes so exactly formed round by nature, that one would think them bullets cast be some artist for great guns. If you break them you find, within, stoney serpents wreathed up in circles, but generally without heads.

Wm. Camden.

Britannia

1568

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3 thoughts on “Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD near Pompeii) called fossils of these animals ammonis cornua (“horns of Ammon”) because the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was typically depicted wearing ram’s horns

    • Thanks for the comment. I agree with the sympathetic magic idea regarding ammonites. On this coast the ancient charm to ward of snakes came from another fossil from the Jurrasic cliffs, Jet.

      ‘Lycia her jet in medicine commends;
      But chiefest, that which distant Britain sends;
      Black light and polished, to itself it draws
      If warmed by friction near adjacent straws.
      Though quenched by oil, its smouldering embers raise
      Sprinkled by water, a still fiercer blaze;
      It cures the dropsy, shaky teeth are fixed
      Washed with the powder’d stone in water mixed.
      The female womb its piercing fumes relieve,
      Nor epilepsy can this test deceive;
      From its deep hole it lures the viper fell,
      And chases away the powers of hell;
      It heals the swelling plagues that gnaw the heart,
      And baffles spells and magic’s noxious art.
      This by the wise and surest test is styled
      Of virgin purity by lust defiled.
      Three days in water steeped, the draught bestows
      Ease to the pregnant womb in travail’s throes.

      http://www.whitbyjet.co.uk/about-jet/history.html

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