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The History Of Shungite

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

For many years, the people in the village of Shun’ga in the Republic of Karelia have known about the healing powers of the ground water near their village.


Shungite (named from the village Shun’ga) is only found in Karelia. It is thought to be around 2 billion (2,000,000,000) years old and it has been theorised to have been formed from lightning or a meteorite striking the earth or that it originated in prehistoric waters when primitive microscopic organisms died and become the basic material for Shungite formation.


Over the years, people noted that pieces of Shungite helped with various ailments and that drinking spring water located near deposits of Shungite gave them extra energy and increased their health.


It has been told that the spring water in Shun’ga was given to the mother of Mikhail Romanov, the first Tsar of the House of Romanov. Xenia Romanova (1560-1631) became seriously ill and doctors could find no cure for her ailments. Fortunately for her, Xenia was exiled to Karelia where she started to drink the local spring water. After consuming the water for a period of time Xenia recovered from her ailments, and this became the first evidence of the healing power of Shungite. This drew great attention to the stone for a time.

Tsar Peter the Great rallying the Russian army at the Battle of Poltava, Great Northern War

However, Shungite was quickly forgotten and only resurfaced during the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden (1700-1721), where Karelia became an important strategic location. The Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, spent a great deal of time in the area, creating factories to help the war effort. The harsh climate and conditions of Karelia took its toll on the Tsar and he became ill. The locals offered the water from the Shungite springs speaking of its great health benefits. Peter starting to consume the spring water and felt immediate positive effects from it. He also had his soldiers drink the water and their health improved within a few weeks.


In 1719 he opened the first Russian spa resort on the site of the springs and called it Martsialnye Vody (Waters of Mars). It was named to honour the role of soldiers in creating the spa.

Waters of Mars

As well as drinking the water, Tsar Peter the Great encouraged his soldiers to carry chunks of Shungite with them in battle. During the Poltava battle in 1709, when the Swedes were suffering badly from dysentery (bacterial infection of the intestine), the Russians did not. The drinking of Shungite water was attributed to the fact that they were not struck down with the disease.


At the end of the war, Shungite became well known and people from Europe wanted to try the Shungite water for themselves. The taking of Shungite water for healing continued.


Professor Alexander Aleksandrovich Inostrantsev wrote the first in-depth scientific work

Professor Alexander Aleksandrovich Inostrantsev

about Shungite. “The newest member of the group of amorphous carbons” was published in 1877 and became widely recognised all over Europe and drew great attention to the stone.


In 1885 Professor Inostrantsev named the black rock, as mentioned above, giving a nod to the area it was first found.


In 1886 he published “More about Shungite” and the combination of his works drew great attention to the stone. In 1907 the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron, which was the major dictionary of the Russian Empire, described Shungite for the first time.


Professor Inostrantsev’s work helped to bring Shungite to the masses and started the interest of others in researching this wonderful rock.


In the early 20th century, with a civil war and two world wars for Russia and her people to contend with, Shungite was pushed in the background of peoples consciousness. However the Karelian Academy of science continued to conducted research on Shungite and quickly became the authority on Shungite having uncovered some valuable findings. Some say that because the Iron Curtain was draw around the Soviet Union for so long that it helped the Russians in their research. With no large western pharmaceutical companies meddling in the research, or indeed trying to stifle it if they saw their profits being hurt, the Russian scientists could complete their work largely unheeded.


With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, the whole world could again get access to the wonderous rock. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 was won by Professor Robert F. Curl, Jr., Rice University, Houston, USA, Professor Sir Harold W. Kroto, University of Sussex, Brighton, U.K., and Professor Richard E. Smalley, Rice University, Houston, USA, for their discovery of fullerenes. Shungite is the only known naturally occurring form which contains fullerenes.


For more information on fullerenes please click here.

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