Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones

view of stone 905

Corsi 905, approx. 145 x 73 x 40 mm, © Oxford University Museum of Natural History

OUMNH Number: 905  
Name and quarry location: Portasanta, from northwest of Chora, Island of Chíos, North Aegean, Greece  
Geological description: Fine-grained compact limestone breccia of pink clasts. There are abundant stylolites, and later fractures are filled with white calcite.  
Comments: This stone, now known as portasanta, is named after the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, where it forms the door jambs. 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. For centuries their location was lost, and in this case Corsi was incorrect in believing the marble to be from the Turkish island of Iasos. The location of the ancient quarries was 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.  
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  
Further information: Portasanta.pdf

Corsi's classification: Class 1. Marbles; Section 2. Veined marbles; Species 1. Porta Santa marble  
Corsi's text: 43.14/ S10.2 Marmo Porta Santa  

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