Thursday, October 24, 2013

Stones of the Bible II

Chrysoprase is a translucent, bright apple or grassy green variety of chalcedony. The green color comes from nickle. It is the most valuable variety of chalcedony. Chrysoprase has been discovered in archaeological digs in ancient Egypt. A necklace which included chrysoprase beads was found on a mummy dating back to 1500 BC.

The most famous deposits of ancient chrysoprase came from Silesia.
Coral is a limestone formation of calcium carbonate produced by the skeletons of millions of tiny marine animals (polyps). Since it is of animal origin it is not technically a mineral. Gem quality coral or precious coral is only found in a few places in the world, one being the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea which produces some of the very finest. It grows in bush-like clumps of branches about a foot high and must be harvested while still living to preserve the color. If the polyps die before a branch reaches the surface, the coral turns dark and loses its value. Coral has been harvested from the earliest times and was highly prized by many civilizations throughout history.
Diamonds are pure, elemental carbon. Hardest of all gemstones, diamonds have the highest melting point of any substance (3,820 degrees Kelvin), is an excellent heat conductor, and has very low reactivity to chemicals. The English word “diamond” comes from the Greek word adamas meaning “the invincible.” Diamonds were not identified until the first century, and then they were valued as a tool for carving other stones.

Pliny the Elder describes diamond crystals from India around 77 AD.
Emeralds are a variety of beryl. Emeralds were well known to biblical lands. One of the earliest known source of emerald were mines located near the Red Sea in Egypt.

There is evidence that these mines were in operation as early as 1600 B.C. Later they became known as Cleopatra’s Mines, as she was quite fond of emeralds and was reported to wear them to enhance her beauty. Emeralds engraved with her likeness were given as gifts to her guests.
Garnet is a brittle, hard, glassy, mineral silicate. Though the word “garnet” is not found in any of the translations of the Bible, garnets were a common stone in biblical times.

The garnet has been found as early as the Bronze Age, dating back to 3100 Egyptian jewelry. Garnets have been closely associated with blood due to their colour and have very often been mistaken for rubies throughout history. (Rubies came into use around 400 B.C. with the Roman Empire)
Jasper is an opaque variety of chalcedony (quartz). It is most commonly red due to the presence of iron, but can also be found in yellow, brown and green. ”Jasper” comes from the Greek word iaspis which is a derivation of “to polish”.

One of characteristics of jasper is that it is able to take a high polish. It was used in ancient times as mantles, pillars, vases, and other interior decorations. Pliny the Elder lived and wrote around the same time that the book of Revelation was written, and describes iaspis as “being green and often transparent” which is of interest since today we consider jasper to be opaque.
Lapis Lazuli is an ultramarine-blue stone consisting largely of lazurite and speckled with yellow pyrite. Lapis was one of the most sought after and prized stones in the ancient world. It was used for jewelry, ornamentation, seals, and amulets. Egyptian blue paint was made from finely ground lapis. The stone has been found in many archaeological digs of ancient civilizations, including King Tut’s tomb.

Mines in Afghanistan have been producing gem lapis lazuli for nearly 5000 years and are still the worlds largest producer of the material. It is commonly agreed that lapis lazuli is actually the stone meant for the term “sapphire” in the bible. Sapphires were not known before the Roman empire and were initially thought to be jacinth.