THE GOLD OF THAT LAND: Biblical Minerals & Rocks  


 

63.     stibic stone, stibnite

Hebrew: pwk, from a root word for "to paint." 2 Kings 9:30, Isaiah 54:12, Jeremiah 4:30.

Probable Identification: kohl or black eye-paint usually made of powdered galena, which sometimes contains stibnite as an impurity, or a substitute containing hematite or black oxides of copper or manganese. The use of mestemt (kohl) in Egypt predates the First Dynasty.[i] The famous "Narmer palette" is an outstanding ceremonial example in slate of a palette for preparing mestemt.

Mineralogy: Stibnite (antimony trisulfide, SbS3) is a lead-grey to black, opaque mineral with a hardness of 2, a metallic luster and black when powdered. It occurs in hydrothermal vein deposits with quartz and sulfides of arsenic, bismuth, selenium, and other metals on the margins of igneous intrusions. Free-forming single crystals have the singular property of bending without breaking. Stibnite does not occur in Egypt, although traces are common in lead and copper ores. Stibnite was plentiful in Persia and Asia Minor, and small deposits were known in the Aegean islands.

    Native antimony, element 51 in the periodic table, is a soft whitish to steel-grey metal which occurs as granular masses in marble veins. It tarnishes to darker grey. Native antimony is much rarer than its ores, but a few example of antimony artifacts are known from Iran and Assyria. Extraction of metallic antimony from stibnite was unknown until the middle ages.

 

Sources:

Hurlbut, 1952, op. cit.; 205.

Lucas & Harris, op. cit.; 195-199.

Ralph, Jolyon, 1993-2004. http://www.mindat.org/min-3782.html

Tennisen, op. cit., 113.

 


 

[i] Budge, E.A. Wallis, 1926. The Dwellers on the Nile: The life, history, religion and literature of the ancient Egyptians. London: The Religious Tract Society. 1977 Dover edition.

 


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