Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

view of stone 312

Corsi 312, approx. 145 x 73 x 40 mm, © Oxford University Museum of Natural History

OUMNH Number: 312  
Name and quarry location: Egyptian alabaster, alabastro cotognino, from one of several quarries at Hatnub, Mallawi, and other locations in the Nile valley, Eastern desert, Egypt.  
Geological description: Fine to medium-grained compact banded travertine, almost entirely composed of calcite; note presence of slender orange ferruginous bands which are quite characteristic of the Egyptian stone.  
Comments: Typical Egyptian alabaster, this stone was quarried as early as 4,000 BC, and was used by the ancient Egyptians for making small pots known as 'alabastri' as well as for the ornamentation of buildings. The quarries were rediscovered in 1891. The exact geological environment of formation is uncertain; the stone occurs as veins and pods in Eocene limestone, and had been regarded as essentially a speleothem formation but some now consider that thermal springs may have been a contributing factor. Small amounts of this stone are still quarried, mainly for making souvenirs for tourists.  
References: Borghini (1997) 140-141; Corsi (1845) 123-132; Harrell (2010b); Lazzarini (2002c) 241-243; Merrill (1893); Mielsch (1985) 37, taf.1; Nicholson & Shaw (2000); Price (2007) 48-49; Watson (1916) 362-364  
Further information: Alabaster-travertine.pdf

Corsi's classification: Class 1. Marbles; Section 4. Concretionary marbles; Species 1. Alabasters; i. Antique alabaster  
Corsi's text: 94.19 Alabastro antico. Marmor Alabastrum. Alabastro a onice... la cava [era al] Tebaide oggi Sayd.  

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