Gypsum, a calcium hydrous sulphate, and calcite, a calcium carbonate, are the two minerals that make up alabaster.
The former is alabaster Egypt from today, whilst the latter is frequently alabaster from the past. The relative hardness of the two varieties makes it easy to tell them apart.
The calcite kind is too hard to scrape with a fingernail (Mohs hardness 1.5 to 2), whereas the gypsum type is soft enough to scratch with a fingernail (Mohs hardness 1.5 to 2). (Hardness 3 on the Mohs scale). Alabaster is mostly utilized as an attractive stone, particularly for religious ornamentation, stair rails, sculpture, and columns in large halls and in Interior designs and decoration . It can be carved into beautiful designs due to its elasticity, but its solubility in water makes it unsuitable for outdoor use. In the past, alabaster powder was employed as a paper filler and a paint pigment.
Ancient Egyptians mined a type of stone known as alabaster marble, which is actually travertine with patterns of swirling of cream and brown, starting in the Early Dynastic Period. It is a type of limestone – calcium carbonate. Alabaster Egypt is a pale, slightly translucent stone, found in Middle Egypt, especially between Miniya and Asiut. The Hat nub quarries in El-‘Amarna were the major source. In the Wadi Gerrawi, near Helwan, there is an Old Kingdom quarry. was regarded as a pure stone because of its color and durability, and was used for chapels, temple pavements, sarcophagi, altars, and most of all, statues. Although true alabaster marble was quarried in the Faiyum region, Egyptologists refer to it as gypsum (calcium sulphate)
The finest varieties of alabaster are mostly used as an aesthetic stone, particularly for religious adornment, stair rails, sculpture, and columns in big halls. Its suppleness allows it to be carved into intricate shapes, but its solubility in water makes it unsuitable for outdoor use. Mineral white, often known as terra alba, is a paint pigment made from powdered alabaster.
The purest alabaster is a fine-grained snow-white substance. It’s also linked to an iron oxide, which results in the stone’s beautiful brown clouding and veining.
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