THE GOLD OF THAT LAND: Biblical Minerals & Rocks  


15.    carnelian, cornelian

Hebrew: 'odem, or ruddy.

Probable identification:    

Carnelian is a likely candidate for 'odem, the first stone in the high priest's breastplate (Exodus 28:17-30, 39:10-13. Chapter 10).

Mineralogy: Carnelian is a reddish to red-brown, opaque to translucent gem variety of chalcedony, a fibrous and cryptocrystalline form of quartz.

Historical Background:

The ancient Egyptians esteemed carnelian, lapis-lazuli, and turquoise for their rarity and beautiful colors. They prized their carnelian or "herset" (meaning "sadness") for its color, the color of blood and life. Carnelian became a symbol of Ra, the sun god, or the blood of Isis. The Egyptians mined carnelian in the Eastern Desert near Aswan and in Lower Nubia. They occasionally used a yellow variety, according to Lucas and Harris.

Ancient Harappan craftsman in the Indus Valley region of India learned to simulate carnelian by heating a local yellowish-grey variety of agate in kilns. After the Eighteenth Dynasty, the Egyptians used synthetic carnelian.

See also "CHALCEDONY" and "SARDIUS."



Hurlbut, 1952, op. cit.; 322.

Lucas & Harris, op. cit.; 391-392.

Ralph, Jolyon, 1993-2004.

Romano, op. cit.; 1605-1621.

Schumann, op. cit.; 126-127.

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