Archae Solenhofen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Last modified April 17, 2001)
Serpentine is a granular or fibrous rock made of hydrated magnesium silicate minerals (serpentine (Mg3Si2O5·OH4); varieties: chrysotile, lizardite, and antigorite) formed by hydrothermal and metasomatic alteration or low grade regional metamorphism (zeolite to greenschist facies) of magnesium-rich silicate rocks, such as peridotite and dunite. It is a soft stone in terms of the hardness of its constituent minerals and can be readily cut or scratched, it also has a greasy or silky luster and fractures conchoidally on impact. Commonly dark green or blackish green in colour, serpentine is often mottled in appearance. Serpentine is widely distributed in the Eastern Desert of Egypt (see map). The principal area is the Baramia region where the serpentines are associated with the metasomatic alteration of olivine-pyroxene peridotite intrusions (Said, 1962). As early as Predynastic times it was employed by the ancient Egyptians for vases and other similar objects, including beads, scarabs, palettes, and statuettes (Lucas & Harris, 1962). Sometimes the serpentine objects were glaz, as it is in the case of steatite a similar type rock. In the archeological literature serpentine is sometimes mistaken for jade because of it green colour.
Lucas, A. & Harris, J.R. (1962) Ancient Egyptian materials and industries. E. Arnold, London, 523 p.
Said, R. (1962) The geology of Egypt. Elsevier, New York,
Links to examples of serpentine usage
c) Statues, statuettes, and busts
d) Misc objects