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A thunderstone is a prehistoric hand axe, stone tool, or fossil which was used as an amulet to protect a person or a building. The name derives from the ancient belief that the object was found at a place where lightning had struck.
Albanians believed in the supreme powers of thunderstones (kokrra e rrufesë or guri i rejës), which were believed to be formed during lightning strikes and to be fallen from the sky. Thunderstones were preserved in family life as important cult objects. It was believed that bringing them inside the house could bring good fortune, prosperity and progress in people, in livestock and in agriculture, or that rifle bullets would not hit the owners of thunderstones.A common practice was to hang a thunderstone pendant on the body of the cattle or on the pregnant woman for good luck and to contrast the evil eye.
The Greeks and Romans, at least from the Hellenistic period onward, used Neolithic stone axeheads for the apotropaic protection of buildings.A 1985 survey of the use of prehistoric axes in Romano-British contexts found forty examples, of which twenty-nine were associated with buildings including villas, military structures such as barracks, temples, and kilns.
During the Middle Ages many of these well-wrought stones were venerated as weapons, which during the "war in heaven" had been used in driving forth Satan and his hosts. Hence, in the 11th century the Byzantine emperor sent to the Holy Roman emperor a "heaven axe"; and in the 12th century, a Bishop of Rennes asserted the value of thunderstones as a divinely appointed means of securing success in battle, safety on the sea, security against thunder, and immunity from unpleasant dreams.
In Scandinavia thunderstones were frequently worshiped as family gods who kept off spells and witchcraft. Beer was poured over them as an offering, and they were sometimes anointed with butter. In Switzerland the owner of a thunderstone whirls it, on the end of a thong, three times around his head, and throws it at the door of his dwelling at the approach of a storm to prevent lightning from striking the house. In Italy they are hung around children's necks to protect them from illness and to ward off the Evil eye. In Roman times, they were sewn inside dog collars along with a little piece of coral to keep the dogs from going mad. In Sweden they offer protection from elves. Up until the 19th century it was common practice in Limburg to sew thunderstones into cloth bags and carried over the chest, in the belief that it would soothe stomach ailments. In some parts of Spain for example the province of Salamanca it was believed that by rubbing the thunderstones on the joints it would help prevent rheumatic diseases.In the French Alps they protect sheep, while elsewhere in France they are thought to ease childbirth. Among the Slavs they cure warts on man and beast, and during Passion Week they have the property to reveal hidden treasure.
In Burma they are used as a cure and preventative for appendicitis. In Japan they cure boils and ulcers. In Malaysia and Sumatra they are used to sharpen the kris, are considered very lucky objects, and have been credited with being touchstones for gold.
In North Carolina and Alabama there is a belief that flint stones placed in the fire will keep hawks from molesting the chickens, a belief which probably stems from the European idea that elf arrows protect domestic animals. In Brazil, flint is used as a divining stone for gold, treasure and water.
The flint was an object of veneration by most American Indian tribes. According to the Pawnee origin myth, stone weapons and implements were given to man by the Morning Star. Among the K'iche' people of Guatemala, there is a myth that a flint fell from the sky and broke into 1600 pieces, each of which became a god. Tohil, the god who gave them fire, is still represented as flint. This myth provides a parallel to the almost universal belief in the thunderstone, and is reminiscent of how the Roman god Jupiter was worshipped in the form of a flint stone. The Cherokee shaman invokes a flint when he is about to scarify a patient prior to applying his medicine. Among the Pueblos there were flint societies which, in most tribes, were primarily concerned with weather and witchcraft, but sometimes had to do with war and medicine.
In many parts of southern England until the middle of the nineteenth century, another name commonly used for fossil Echinoids was 'thunderstone', though other fossils such as belemnites and (rarely) ammonites were also used for this purpose.
In 1677 Dr. Robert Plot, the first keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, published his classic book The Natural History of Oxfordshire. Plot recorded that in Oxfordshire what are now known as fossil echinoids were called thunderstones, as they were thought to have descended from the heavens during a thunderstorm. The St. Peter's Church in Linkenholt, England, was built in 1871 near the location of the old St. Peter's, which had stood for nearly 700 years. The 1871 version of the church included fossil echinoids built into the walls surrounding the windows, a style adopted from the original. This implies that Thunderstone folklore was retained for at least 700 years in England, and had its roots in pagan folklore.
In Sussex in the early 20th century fossil echinoids were also used on the outside windowsills of kitchens and dairies to stop milk going off (because thunder was believed to be able to sour milk).
Even as late as the 17th century, a French ambassador brought a stone hatchet, which still exists in the museum at Nancy, as a present to the Prince-Bishop of Verdun, and claimed that it had healing properties.
Andrew Dickson White described the discovery of the true origin of thunderstones as a "line of observation and thought ... fatal to the theological view". In the last years of the sixteenth century Michael Mercati tried to prove that the "thunder-stones" were weapons or implements of early races of men; but for some reason his book was not published until the following century, when other thinkers had begun to take up the same idea.
In 1723 Antoine de Jussieu addressed the French Academy on "The Origin and Uses of Thunder-stones". He showed that recent travelers from various parts of the world had brought a number of weapons and other implements of stone to France, and that they were essentially similar to what in Europe had been known as "thunderstones". A year later this fact was firmly embedded in the minds of French scientists by the Jesuit Joseph-Francois Lafitau, who published a work showing the similarity between the customs of aborigines then existing in other lands and those of the early inhabitants of Europe. So began, in these works of Jussieu and Lafitau, the science of ethnology.
It was only after the French Revolution of 1830, more than a century later, that the political climate in Europe was free enough of religious sentiment for archaeological discoveries to be dispassionately investigated and the conclusion reached that human existence spanned a much greater period of time than any Christian theologian had dreamt of.
In 1847, a man previously unknown to the world at large, Boucher de Perthes, published in Paris the first volume of work on Celtic and Antediluvian Antiquities, and in this he showed engravings of typical flint implements and weapons, of which he had discovered thousands upon thousands in the high drift beds near Abbeville, in northern France. So far as France was concerned, he was met at first by what he calls "a conspiracy of silence", and then by a contemptuous opposition among orthodox scientists, led by Elie de Beaumont.
In 1863 the thunderstone myth was further discredited by Charles Lyell in his book Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man . Lyell had previously opposed the new ideas about human antiquity, and his changing sides gave further force to the scientific evidence. [ unreliable source? ]
The three-age system is the periodization of human pre-history into three time-periods: the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron Age; although the concept may also refer to other tripartite divisions of historic time-periods. In history, archaeology and physical anthropology, the three-age system is a methodological concept adopted during the 19th century according to which artefacts and events of late prehistory and early history could be broadly ordered into a recognizable chronology. C. J. Thomsen initially developed this categorization in the period 1816 to 1825, as a result of classifying the collection of an archaeological exhibition chronologically – there resulted broad sequences with artefacts made successively of stone, bronze, and iron.
Ukko, Äijä[ˈæi̯jæ] or Äijö[ˈæi̯jø], parallel to Uku in Estonian mythology, is the god of the sky, weather, harvest and thunder in Finnish mythology.
A thunderbolt or lightning bolt is a symbolic representation of lightning when accompanied by a loud thunderclap. In Indo-European mythology, the thunderbolt was identified with the 'Sky Father'; this association is also found in later Hellenic representations of Zeus and Vedic descriptions of the vajra wielded by the god Indra. It may have been a symbol of cosmic order, as expressed in the fragment from Heraclitus describing "the Thunderbolt that steers the course of all things".
Finnish mythology is a commonly applied description of the folklore of Finnish paganism, of which a modern revival is practiced by a small percentage of the Finnish people. It has many features shared with Estonian and other Finnic mythologies, but also shares some similarities with neighbouring Baltic, Slavic and, to a lesser extent, Norse mythologies.
Thor is a prominent god in Germanic paganism. In Norse mythology, he is a hammer-wielding god associated with lightning, thunder, storms, sacred groves and trees, strength, the protection of humankind, hallowing, and fertility. Besides Old Norse Þórr, the deity occurs in Old English as Þunor, in Old Frisian as Thuner, in Old Saxon as Thunar, and in Old High German as Donar, all ultimately stemming from the Proto-Germanic theonym *Þun(a)raz, meaning 'Thunder'.
Michele Mercati was a physician who was superintendent of the Vatican Botanical Garden under Popes Pius V, Gregory XIII, Sixtus V, and Clement VIII. He was one of the first scholars to recognise prehistoric stone tools as human-made rather than natural or mythologically created thunderstones.
Perkūnas was the common Baltic god of thunder, and the second most important deity in the Baltic pantheon after Dievas. In both Lithuanian and Latvian mythology, he is documented as the god of sky, thunder, lightning, storms, rain, fire, war, law, order, fertility, mountains, and oak trees.
Perëndi is an Albanian noun for God, deity, sky and heaven. It is used capitalized to refer to the Supreme Being, and uncapitalized for "deity", "sky" and "heaven".
Ukonvasara, or Ukonkirves, is the symbol and magical weapon of the Finnish thunder god Ukko, similar to Thor's Mjölnir. Ukonvasara means 'hammer of Ukko'; similarly, Ukonkirves means 'axe of Ukko'. It was said that Ukko created lightning with Ukonvasara.
The rhomphaia was a close-combat bladed weapon used by the Thracians as early as 350-400 BC. Rhomphaias were weapons with a straight or slightly curved single-edged blade attached to a pole, which in most cases was considerably shorter than the blade. Although the rhomphaia was similar to the falx, most archaeological evidence suggests that rhomphaias were forged with straight or slightly curved blades, presumably to enable their use as both a thrusting and slashing weapon. The blade was constructed of iron and used a triangular cross section to accommodate the single cutting edge with a tang of rectangular cross section. Length varied, but a typical rhomphaia would have a blade of approximately 60–80 cm and a tang of approximately 50 cm. From the length of the tang, it can be presumed that, when attached to the hilt, this portion of the weapon would be of similar length to the blade.
Perkwunos is the reconstructed name of the weather god in Proto-Indo-European mythology. The deity was connected with fructifying rains, and his name probably invoked in times of drought. In a widespread Indo-European myth, the thunder-deity fights a multi-headed water-serpent during an epic battle, in order to release torrents of water that had previously been pent up. The name of his weapon, *meld-n-, which denoted both 'lightning' and 'hammer', can be reconstructed from the attested traditions.
The mythology of the modern-day Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg has its roots in the mythologies of pre-Christian cultures, predating the region's Christianization under the influence of the Franks in the Early Middle Ages. At the time of the Roman Empire and in the Early Middle Ages, some of the resident peoples of the Low Countries' included:
Albanian folk beliefs comprise the beliefs expressed in the customs, rituals, myths, legends and tales of the Albanian people. The elements of Albanian mythology are of Paleo-Balkanic origin and almost all of them are pagan. Albanian folklore evolved over the centuries in a relatively isolated tribal culture and society. Albanian folk tales and legends have been orally transmitted down the generations and are still very much alive in the mountainous regions of Albania, Kosovo, western North Macedonia, lands formerly inhabited by Albanians like Montenegro and southern Serbia, and among the Arbëreshë in Italy and the Arvanites in Greece.
Joseph-François Lafitau was a French Jesuit missionary, ethnologist, and naturalist who worked in Canada. He is best known for his use of the comparative method in the field of scientific anthropology, the discovery of ginseng, and his writings on the Iroquois. Lafitau was the first of the Jesuit missionaries in Canada to have a scientific point of view. Francis Parkman praises Lafitau, stating, "none of the old writers are so satisfactory as Lafitau."
An axe is an implement that has been used for millennia to shape, split and cut wood, to harvest timber, as a weapon, and as a ceremonial or heraldic symbol. The axe has many forms and specialised uses but generally consists of an axe head with a handle, or helve.
In English folklore, elf-arrows, elf-bolts and pixie arrows were names given to discovered arrowheads of flint, used in hunting and war by the Pre-Indo-Europeans of the British Isles and of Europe generally. The name derives from the folklore belief that the arrows fell from the sky, and were used by the elves to kill cattle and inflict elf-shot on human beings.
The drangùe is a semi-human winged divine figure in Albanian mythology and folklore, associated with weather and storms. Babies destined to become drangue are born with their heads covered in caul and with two or sometimes four wings under their arms. The drangue hold supernatural powers, especially in the wings and arms. He is made invulnerable by the singular conjunction produced at his birth, and can die only if this conjunction is repeated once again. The main goal of the drangue is to fight the kulshedra in legendary battles. He uses meteoric stones, lightning-swords, thunderbolts, piles of trees and rocks to defeat the kulshedra and to protect mankind from storms, fire, floods and other natural disasters caused by her destructive power. Heavy thunderstorms are thought to be the result of their battles.
In Slavic mythology, Perun is the highest god of the pantheon and the god of sky, thunder, lightning, storms, rain, law, war, fertility and oak trees. His other attributes were fire, mountains, wind, iris, eagle, firmament, horses and carts, and weapons. He was first associated with weapons made of stone and later with those of metal.
Echinoid fossils are the fossilised remains of sea urchins, spiny marine invertebrates that live on the seabed. Humans have been interested in these fossils for millennia, have considered them lucky, have imbued them with magical powers and linked them to their deities.