Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/83

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ANTIQUE MARBLES.

73

The marmor Lacedæmonium, Laconicum, or Spartum, of the Romans has always been regarded as a species of verde-antique marble. Clarke says that it differed from the Atracian only in being variegated with black or dark-green serpentine instead of with white. But M. Boblaye, the mineralogist of the French commission to the Morea, has proved pretty conclusively that it was not a marble but a true porphyry, and probably identical with the ophites of the ancients, which Pliny says was so called from its resemblance to the skin of a serpent (ὸφις). Pausanias calls it Crocean stone (Κρόκεων λίθος). The French discovered the quarries near the ancient Croceæ, on the road from Sparta to Gythium, and about two miles from the modern village of Levétzova, in Laconia. The stone is of a dark grass-green, strewed with little parallelograms of a lighter green, sometimes approaching white and sometimes yellow. Procopius compares its color to emerald, and Statius and Sidonius call it a grass-green. Eurycles, the Spartan architect, used this stone in decorating the baths of Neptune at Corinth; and it was quarried to a large extent by the Romans, who enriched the monuments of Greece, Italy, and Gaul, with it.

The Augustan and Tiberian marbles, so fashionable in Rome under those emperors, were obtained in Egypt. They are breccias composed of fragments of greenstone, gneiss, and porphyry, cemented with a calcareous paste. They are similar in color, a bright green, spotted and streaked with dark green, reddish gray, and white; the only difference being, according to Pliny, that in the Augustan the figures undulate and curl to a point, while in the Tiberian the streaks are not involved, but lie wide asunder. It is probable that these marbles were quarried in the mountains between Thebes and the Red Sea. Inscriptions in the ancient quarries there, near the well of Hammamamat, show that they were worked in the sixth dynasty of Manetho. A green marble called Memphites was quarried near Memphis in Egypt.

There were many other varieties of green marble known to the ancients, such as the red-spotted green antique, having a dark-green ground marked with small red and black spots and white fragments of entrochi; the marmo verde paglioco, yellowish green; and leek marble, of the color of a leek; but they exist only in small fragments, and their quarries are unknown. Another variety of green marble was found in the island of Tenos.

A blue marble is said to have been obtained in Libya. The island of Naxos yields a dark blue elegantly striped with white, Tenos a light blue veined with dark blue, and Scyros many kinds of blue and violet breccias, with other colors variously disposed. Scyros was one of the chief places whence the ancients derived their variegated marbles, and its quarries furnished many varieties closely resembling the famous marbles of other localities. Strabo says it pro-