Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

view of stone 80

Corsi 80, approx. 145 x 73 x 40 mm, © Oxford University Museum of Natural History

OUMNH Number: 80  
Name and quarry location: Portasanta, from northwest of Chora, Island of Chíos, North Aegean, Greece  
Geological description: Partially recrystallised fine-grained compact limestone. Red and yellow iron oxides are concentrated in abundant stylolites, giving a reticulated (net-like) appearance.  
Comments: Portasanta is named after the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican (see the Portasanta pdf). It was first used by the ancient Greeks, and was extensively quarried by the Romans from the 1st century BC until the quarries closed in Byzantine times and for centuries their location was lost. Corsi was incorrect in believing this to be Carian marble from the Turkish island of Iasos. The ancient quarries were rediscovered on the Island of Chios, Greece, by William Brindley at the end of the 19th century. Since then, there has been sporadic extraction of the stone. Together, Corsi's specimens of Portasanta show well the typical pink/brownish red/grey/white colour palette of this breccia, and in this specimen particularly, the net-like arrays of stylolites often seen in the Chian rock.  
References: Borghini (1997) 285-287; Corsi (1845) 95-97; Lazzarini (2002c) 262-265; Mielsch (1985) 55-56, taf.14; Porter (1907) 70-72; Price (2007) 140-141. Other examples: NHM London Corsi tabletop (ancient) 8K; Cambridge Watson coll.W445 (early 20th century).  
Further information: Portasanta.pdf

Corsi's classification: Class 1. Marbles; Section 2. Veined marbles; Species 1. Porta Santa marble  
Corsi's text: 43.4 Marmo Porta Santa. Marmor Jasense. La cava era nell' Isola di Jaso dell' Arcipelago sulle coste della Caria nell' Asia minore, per cui da molti scrittori si è anche chiamato marmo Cario... esso corrisponda all'antico marmo di Jaso.  

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