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New evidence emerald production in Roman Egypt

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Pliny the Elder, in his The Natural History, discusses emeralds in his chapter on smaragdus [emeralds], the Latin term for the green stone.


Indeed there is no stone, the colour of which is more delightful to the eye; for whereas the sight fixes itself with avidity upon the green grass and the foliage of the trees, we have all the more pleasure in looking upon the smaragdus [emeralds], there being no green in existence of a more intense colour than this.

Pliny mentions Egypt being the site for their mines


In the case, however, of the stones of Scythia and Egypt, their hardness is such, that it would be quite impossible to penetrate them. 




Now we have evidence of an actual beryl mines in Egypt. Well-known beryl minerals include emeralds and aquamarine. 

The Large Temple of Sikait seen from the wadi floor CREDIT Authors



 The study of the underground structures presents in Sikait and the surrounding areas allowed the documentation of several beryl mining spaces.



Summary: This is an interesting use of archaeologic evidence to confirm the ancient literature. Interestingly enough, Pliny the Elder has this to say about Nero's use of emeralds:


 When the surface of the smaragdus [emerald] is flat, it reflects the image of objects in the same manner as a mirror. The Emperor Nero used to view the combats of the gladiators upon a smaragdus [emerald].





guy also known as gaius



Edited by guy

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