Faustino Corsi: Stories in Stone, 5 June 2014
A talk by Monica T. Price, Head of Earth Collections at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
The stunning polished stones used by ancient Rome, and brought from across the Empire, inspired nineteenth century lawyer Faustino Corsi to collect. Corsi published catalogues describing and classifying 1,000 stone samples and his collection arrived at the University of Oxford in 1827.
Each sample has a rich pattern of minerals, and sometimes fossils, telling a story of an event in geological time - a volcano erupting or hot magma intruding into the crust of the Earth, continents colliding to form mountains, an earthquake, a deep ocean, or a shallow tropical sea.
The distinctive colours and patterns also imply a rich cultural history of emperors and kings, trade and hard labour, exploration and rediscovery, of historic buildings, inspirational sculpture, recycling and imitation.
The talk was the second of a research and development series exploring the geological.
Monica T. Price is Head of Collections at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and manages an internationally important collection of fossils, rocks, minerals, meteorites and gemstones. She wrote Decorative Stone: The Complete Sourcebook (Thames & Hudson 2007) and in 2012, with support from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, launched the Corsi collection website.