This is just to let you know that I have NOT fallen off the planet. I’ve been writing my brains out, actually, but for freelancing, out of necessity (though I do continue working through the Decade Volcano final draft).
I miss the blog a lot tonight, though, and have scheduled one of the book chapters to post in a little over an hour.
Meanwhile, Listverse published my submission and here’s an excerpt of the latest submission, which I’ll send in later this week — it’s the new writing I’ve been doing lately:
4. Turquoise is not named for its color.
Turquoise trendiness varies everywhere but in the southwestern US, where it’s a perennial favorite. (LINK https://www.gia.edu/turquoise-history-lore )
That on-off popularity hasn’t always been the case. Ancient Egyptians loved this unique stone, calling it “mefkat” — “joy and delight” — and using it on artwork like King Tut’s famous mask. (LINK https://www.gia.edu/turquoise , LINK https://gem-a.com/gem-hub/birthstones/birthstone-guide-turquoise-for-those-born-in-december)
Elsewhere, Chinese artists carved turquoise statues and Native Americans used it in religion and for trade (LINK gem-a ), but the gem wasn’t mentioned in European records until the 1650s. (LINK https://www.etymonline.com/word/turquoise#etymonline_v_18840 )
Turquoise is rare. It only forms in very dry, copper-rich places, where rainwater can seep down into bedrock and react with various elements. (LINK https://geology.com/minerals/turquoise.shtml )
When it finally reached Western Europe, they called it Turkish rock– “pierre turqueise” — since it came from Imperial Turkey’s mines. This has come down to us as “turquoise.” (LINK etym )
The color turquoise was named after the gem two centuries later, in the 1850s! (LINK etym)
Speaking of the olden days . . .
5. Lapis lazuli mines from 700 BC are still operating.
Lapis lazuli is only birthstone on our list that is a true rock, in the geological sense of being a combination of different minerals. One of these, lazurite, gives lapis gemstone its satisfying deep blue color. (LINK https://geology.com/gemstones/lapis-lazuli/ )
The recipe for lapis lazuli includes heat, pressure, and limestone or other calcium-rich rock, along with the proper trace elements for color and quality. Mix together with colliding continents, season with hydrothermal fluids and/or magma, and there you go! A beautiful blue gem that looks great either in jewelry or as a carved statue. (LINK geology.com)
Canada and the US, among other places, produce lapis lazuli, but most of the world’s supply comes from Afghanistan’s Badakshan Province. (LINK geology.com, LINK https://www2.bgs.ac.uk/afghanMinerals/preciousStone.htm) Some mines here, like Sary-Sang, have been producing lapis lazuli since 700 BC. This makes them the world’s oldest source of commercial gemstone.(LINK https://www.gia.edu/lapis-lazuli-history-lore )
Hopefully, this long tradition will survive troubled times today — the area is controlled by the Taliban, prompting calls to declare lapis lazuli a conflict mineral. (LINK https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/09/22/taliban-afghanistan-mining-peace-talks/ , LINK https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2016/06/07/Make-Afghan-Lapis-Lazuli-a-conflict-mineral-watchdog )
You have to source your facts, hence the links (with some personal shorthand). If they accept the submission, I’ll have to take that down, of course.
Just wanted you to know I’m busy in the background and do look forward to that happy day when I can resume regular blog posts.
Thank you for your interest and encouragement. And happy holidays!