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Selenite – valued material

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)


In ancient Rome, selenite (referred to as lapis specularis, meaning “mirror stone”) was a valued mineral. Pliny the Elder emphasized the advantages of this mineral, which could be cut into thin layers through which light with a characteristic soft glow, similar to moonlight, passed.

In addition, as mentioned by Pliny the Elder, sometimes during the games taking place in Circus Maximus very small selenite crystals were scattered on the sand of the arena to beautify the spectacle and add sparkles.

Interestingly, pieces of selenite were also placed in road paving stones as spot-reflective elements, or “cat’s eyes”, as we call them today.

  • Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 36.162

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