Story: Lapis Lazuli; 1-8-2021;
Lapis takes an excellent polish and can be made into jewellery, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments, small statues, and vases. Interior items and finishing buildings can be also made with lapis.
Lapis Lazuli or lapis for short, is a deep-blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color.
Unlike most other gem materials, lapis lazuli is not a mineral. Instead, it is a rock composed of multiple minerals.
Lapis Lazuli is found in limestone in the Kokcha River valley of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan, where the Sar-e-Sang mine deposits have been worked for more than 6,000 years.
As early as the 7th millennium BCE, lapis lazuli was mined in the Sar-i Sang mines, in Shortugai, and in other mines in Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan. And there are sources that are found as far east as in the region around Lake Baikal in Siberia.
Trade in the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian and ancient Sumerian sites, and as lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania.
Afghanistan was the source of lapis for the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, as well as the later Greeks and Romans.
During the height of the Indus valley civilization about 2000 BC, the Harappan colony now known as Shortugai was established near the lapis mines.
Mines in northeast Afghanistan continue to be a major source of lapis lazuli. Important amounts are also produced from mines west of Lake Baikal in Russia, and in the Andes mountains in Chile which is the source that the Inca used to carve artifacts and jewelry.
Smaller quantities are mined in Pakistan, Italy, Mongolia, the United States, and Canada.