Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

view of stone 806

Corsi 806, approx. 145 x 73 x 40 mm, © Oxford University Museum of Natural History

OUMNH Number: 806  
Name and quarry location: Porfido serpentino antico, porfido verde agatata, from Krokees (Levetsova), Laconia, Peloponnese, Greece  
Geological description: Porphyritic andesite of Permian to Carboniferous age, weakly metamorphosed and coloured green by epidote and other iron silicates. The phenocrysts are plagioclase feldspar, and vesicles are filled with cryptocrystalline quartz (chalcedony).  
Comments: This stone has long been known as porfido serpentino verde, a confusing misnomer as it is not a serpentinite. It is a very durable stone that is found in relatively small blocks in the area of Krokees. It was used in ancient times and reused extensively in the Cosmati pavements of churches and cathedrals in Italy and elsewhere. Corsi's collection shows a number of varieties; the paving of St Peter's square in the Vatican shows it in all its kinds.  
References: Borghini (1997) 279-281; Corsi (1845) 205-209; Lazzarini (2002c) 254-256; Porter (1907); Price (2007) 206-207; Rogers (2008) 43-44; Zezza (2002)  
Further information:

Corsi's classification: Class 15. Porphyry; Species 2. Porphyries (Lacedaemon); i. Antique 'serpentine' porphyry  
Corsi's text: 200.10 Altro [Serpentino. Marmor Lacedaemon. Marmo verde Lacedomonio. Marmo Lacedomonio... presso Crocee villaggio della Laconia, vi fosse la cava del serpentino... marmo Taigeto, perchè trovavasi presso un monte di tal nome... Tenario perchè il monte Tenaro è prossimo al Taigeto... Spartano perchè Sparta è contigua al monte Taigeto... Lacedemonio altro nome con cui Sparta si Chiama... Lacnio perchè Sparta e nella Laconia... smeraldo... che molti smeraldi Laconici si trovavano presso il monte Taigeto.]  

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