Hettie JudahDec 5, 2022
The Secret Lives of Stones
Inspired by the lapidaries of the ancient world, Lapidarium: The Secret Lives of Stones (John Murray/Penguin, 2022) by Hettie Judah is a beautifully designed collection of true stories/essays about sixty different stones that have influenced our shared history.
The earliest scientists ground and processed minerals in a centuries-long quest for a mythic stone that would prolong human life. Michelangelo climbed mountains in Tuscany searching for the sugar-white marble that would yield his sculptures. Catherine the Great wore the wealth of Russia stitched in gemstones onto the front of her bodices.
Through the realms of art, myth, geology, philosophy and power, the story of humanity can be told through the minerals and materials that have allowed us to evolve and create. From the Taiwanese national treasure known as the Meat-Shaped Stone to Malta’s prehistoric “fat lady” temples carved in globigerina limestone to the amethyst crystals still believed to have healing powers, Lapidarium is a jewel box of sixty far-flung stones and the stories that accompany them. Together, they explore how human culture has formed stone, and the roles stone has played in forming human culture.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.