The History of
the "fallen skystone", "gem of the centuries",
is indigenous to the Americas,
Egypt, ancient Persia (Iran), Tibet and China. Throughout human history,
the stone has been revered and admired for its beauty and reputed
spiritual life-enhancing qualities. The oldest known piece of jewelry,
a turquoise bracelet, was found on the wrist of a 7000 year-old mummified
been known by this name since the French purchased the "turkey
from Turkish traders, never realizing that the turquoise was mined
in Persia and later traded to
Since at least the First Dynasty (3000 B.C.E.) and possibly before,
turquoise was used by the Egyptians and was mined by them in the Sinai
Peninsula, called "Country of Turquoise" by the native Monitu.
There are six mines in the region, all on the southwest coast of the
peninsula, covering an area of some 650 square kilometers. The two
most important of these mines from an historical perspective are Serabit
el-Khadim and Wadi Maghareh, believed to be among the oldest of known
mines. The former mine is situated about four kilometers from an ancient
temple dedicated to Hathor.
For at least two thousand years, the region once known as Persia
has remained the most important source of turquoise, for it is here
that fine material is most consistently recovered. This "perfect
color" deposit that is blue naturally and turns green when heated
is limited to a mine in Neyshabur,Iran. Iranian turquoise has been
mined and traded abroad for centuries, and was probably the source
of the first material to reach Europe.
China has been a minor source of turquoise for three thousand years
or more. Gem-quality material, in the form of compact nodules, is
found in the fractured, silicified limestone of Yunxian and Zhushan,
Hubei province. Additionally, Marco Polo reported turquoise found
in present-day Sichun.
mine of any kind on the North American continent, the Cerrillos turquoise
south of Santa Fe, New Mexico, dates back at least 2000 years. Native
American Pueblo peoples dug deep into the stony ground using antlers
and stone mauls to bring up the precious turquoise, a true labor of
To the Pueblos
and the Navajos, turquoise is sacred, takes its color from the sky,
symbolizes the supreme, life-giving and healing power of the Creator.Originally,
indigenous peoples of the Southwest carved turquoise into beads or
animal fetishes or overlaid it onto wood, bone, or shell using such
fixatives as beeswax or piñon pine pitch.
introduced silver mining, smelting, and smithing technology into the
in the sixteenth century. Combining that new knowledge of silver with
the turquoise stone, the Native Americans created an industry of beauty.
Turquoise Jewelry became popular in western United States. Tourists
coming to see the Grand Canyon and the Southwest bought Turquoise
Jewelry from the Navajo Indians and brought it home as souveniers.
By the 1940's, it had become very popular, mainly in the western United
States and soon after throughout the country.
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