"““In tombs of gold and lapis lazuli Bodies of holy men and women exude
Miraculous oil, odour of violet. But under heavy loads of trampled clay
Lie bodies of the vampires full of blood; Their shrouds are bloody and their lips are wet
("Oil and Blood")”
W. B. Yeats
What is Lapis Lazuli?
Lapis lazuli, also known simply as "lapis," is a blue metamorphic rock that has been used as a gemstone for thousands of years. The most desirable gems have a rich, solid blue colour and perhaps a few reflective pieces of pyrite. Unlike most other gems, lapis lazuli is not a mineral. Instead, it is a rock composed of multiple minerals. The blue colour of lapis lazuli is mainly derived from the presence of lazurite.
Lapis lazuli forms near igneous intrusions where limestone or marble have been altered by heat. In these rocks, lazurite replaces portions of the host rock and often develops within certain bands or layers.
Lapis lazuli has been popular through most of recorded human history. Mining occurred in the north eastern Afghanistan as early as 7000 BC and was used to make beads, small jewellery items and small sculptures. These have been found at Neolithic archaeological sites dating back to about 3000 BC in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Lapis lazuli appears in many Egyptian archaeological sites that date back to about 3000 BC. It was used in many ornamental objects and jewellery. Lapis lazuli started to be seen in Europe during the Middle Ages