Emerald was one of the most precious gemstones in antiquity. The oldest known emerald mine is in Egypt's Eastern Desert, in the mountain valley of Wadi Sikait, where mining likely started at the end of the Ptolemaic period in the first century BC.
When Did It Start?
The majority of mining operations, however, dates from the Roman and Byzantine eras, which lasted from the late first century BC to the sixth century AD. The Romans called emerald "smaragdus" and named the Sikait area Mons Smaragdus, which translates as you can now guess, Emerald Mountain.
Details of this emerald pair (SOLD) Shape & Cut: Octagon Stone type: Emerald Weight (cts): 2.79 / 2.78 Dimensions (mm): 8.81x8.37x5.75 / 8.75x8.33x5.75mm Color: Green Treatment: Insignificant Oil Origin: Colombia Certified: GRS Single/pair: Pair
The Only Source of Mining?
But, at the time, was the emerald the only source of mining? The Egyptian mines continued to be exploited until at least the Middle Ages when Arab writers document the appearance of larger, heavier, stones from the Indian subcontinent.
The green beryls from Egypt are distinguishable by their oxygen-isotopic composition. What nation is said to have had an emerald mine that was used by ancient European civilizations as well?
a. Austria b. Sicilia c. Hungary d. Romania
Answer A. They are called the Habachtal mines in Austria.
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With over ten years of marketing experience, I finally decided to settle down in Bangkok to work in an area that I have always been interested in: the gemstones industry. I'm still learning how the market works on a daily basis, and I enjoy sharing my experience with those who are interested in learning more about gems in general.