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Mysteries of Armenia

The Armenian Stone


For centuries the origin of the mysterious stone described by Plenius Senior and imported to Rome from Armenia, did not cease being a subject of heated argument. It is well known, that it not only had a number of merits as a building material, but was a good dyestuff as well. The mystery of the Armenian stone excited the interest of many generations of scientists, who at different times identified it with turquoise and lapis lazuli. None of those versions, however, proved to be right. The specialists’ curiosity was roused by the fact that in case of solving the mystery, one might determine the exact location of Aratta that was mentioned in Sumerian epic literature as a piece of land behind silver mountains, which supplied the city of Uruk with wood, metal and blue stone. Although the notion of silver mountains was always associated with Armenia, and the name Aratta was not only inserted in the place-name of the plateau, but was also mentioned as the name of a river, the question remained open for a rather long time. The thing is that no location of lapis lazuli, which had traditionally been referred to as blue stone, had been found in Armenia. Such contradiction allowed presuming that the mysterious country had been located on the territory of Afghanistan, from where lapis lazuli was exported to Sumer. On the basis of chemical analysis though, it became possible to establish that the Armenian stone was oxidized copper, azurite. Even today, in the deserted fields one can come across blue copper mineral, which is in fact used to obtain paint. The legendary stone is exposed at the Geological Museum of Armenia.

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