Volume 23 Issue 4
Oct.  2021
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LAI Shuqi, QIU Zhili, YANG Jiong, LUO Han, ZHENG Xinyu, YE Xu. Mining and Trading of Ancient Lapis Lazuli: The Exploration for A Combination of Twofold Evidence Based on Historical Documents and Archaeology Discovery[J]. Journal of Gems & Gemmology , 2021, 23(4): 1-11. doi: 10.15964/j.cnki.027jgg.2021.04.001
Citation: LAI Shuqi, QIU Zhili, YANG Jiong, LUO Han, ZHENG Xinyu, YE Xu. Mining and Trading of Ancient Lapis Lazuli: The Exploration for A Combination of Twofold Evidence Based on Historical Documents and Archaeology Discovery[J]. Journal of Gems & Gemmology , 2021, 23(4): 1-11. doi: 10.15964/j.cnki.027jgg.2021.04.001

Mining and Trading of Ancient Lapis Lazuli: The Exploration for A Combination of Twofold Evidence Based on Historical Documents and Archaeology Discovery

doi: 10.15964/j.cnki.027jgg.2021.04.001
  • Received Date: 2021-06-03
  • Publish Date: 2021-07-01
  • Lapis lazuli with a vivid and bright imperial blue colour was used widely in Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, ancient India, ancient Rome, ancient China and other early ancient civilizations. However, due to the lack of producing areas and the constraints of archaeological materials, the domestic understanding of the origin, trade and cultural exchange of lapis lazis is still relatively limited. Based on the research at home and abroad, this study aimed to systematically sorting and summarizing the previous results of exploitation, trade route and employment of lapis lazuli, which provides reference for the interdisciplinary research of gemmology, archaeology, and other disciplines. The main results were summarized as follows: (1) Although archaeological findings still can not explain the origin of lapis lazuli found at some sites, geological and archaeological evidences suggest that Afghanistan is the most important source of lapis lazuli; (2) As early as 4500 B.C., the trade of lapis lazuli was well-organized, and three different trade and transportation routes in different time periods (4500 B.C.-3500 B.C., 3500 B.C.-1000 B.C. and 1000 B.C.-early A.D.) can be traced back. In the early stage, land and river transportation were the primary, in the medium-stage, sea transportation developed rapidly, and in the late stage, these three routes were closely combined. Route changes were controlled by multiple factors such as geographical environment, urban rise and fall, and the public demand; (3) Archaeological studies and literature records showed that the use and role of ancient lapis lazuli have changed significantly. The worldwide urban cultural diversification have made the sanctified lapis lazuli present a variety forms of use, and simultaneously it shows ancient people's multifarious cognition on the colour of lapis lazuli. The researches of lapis lazuli material resource exploitation, trading and uses in international academia can provide us important reference to explore the development and circulation of jade in early ancient China.
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