geology, petrifaction or petrification is the process by which organic materialis converted into stone or a similar substance without "decaying". It is approximately synonymous with fossilization. Petrified woodis the most well known result of this process.
For a list of sites of major collections of petrified materials, see
Petrifaction is also a common theme in
folkloreand mythology, and is associated with the legends of Medusa the Gorgon, the basilisk, and the cockatrice, among others. In fairy tales, characters who fail in a quest may be turned to stone until they are rescued by the successful hero, as in " The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body" or " The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird".
In Cornish folklore, petrifaction stories are used to explain the origin of prehistoric megalithic monuments such as stone circles and monoliths. For example, the name of the Merry Maidens stone circle, and the nearby Pipers monoliths, comes from an associated myth about a party of young women who danced on poles through Saturday evening and into Sunday morning. For their sins the nineteen maidens were turned to stone, as were the two pipers accompanying them. Several other Cornish stone circles have similar themes in their names (The Nine Maidens of Boskednan, the Tregeseal Dancing Stones), and there are variations such as The Hurlers on
Bodmin Moor- turned to stone for playing the Cornish game of hurling on a Sunday [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/prwe/prwe071.htm Popular Romances of the West of England: Romances of the Rocks: The Dancing Stones, the Hurlers &c ] ] . Several isolated standing stones have names associating them with pipers or fiddlers.
Figuratively, the word can also refer to a state of
paralysisresulting from fear.
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