Published on August 22, 2013 by Amy
In the Southwest, we tend to take turquoise for granted, yet it has been labeled the “Gemstone of the Centuries”. Over 7,500 years ago, slave convoys were sent into the Sinai Peninsula to pluck pieces of the blue gem from the rocks where it had formed. In ancient Egypt, turquoise was believed to have mystical powers and appeared in amulets and talisman representing their gods Amum and Isis. A gold and carved turquoise bracelet was found on the mummified arm of Queen Zer, a ruler during the first dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs. The four bracelets found in her burial are the earliest known examples of precious metal jewelry.
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The Middle East emerged as the great purveyor of turquoise, supplying the ancient Egyptians, Nubians, Greeks and Romans. It is believed the name was derived from the French word, Turquie, a reference to the Turkish traders first bringing the rich blue stones to the European continent. It was assumed that the brilliant blue and green stones originated in Turkey when, in fact, they were most likely extracted from mines in the Sinai Peninsula and the Alimersai Mountain in Persia (Iran).