Lapis lazuli

Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan in its natural state
Lapis lazuli seen through a microscope (x240 magnification)
Ancient Egyptian cult image of Ptah; 945–600 BC; lapis lazuli; height of the figure: 5.2 cm, height of the dais: 0.4 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
Crystals of lazurite (the main mineral in lapis lazuli) from the Sar-i Sang mine in Afghanistan, where lapis lazuli has been mined since the 7th Millennium BC
A polished block of lapis lazuli
Natural ultramarine pigment made from ground lapis lazuli. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was the most expensive pigment available (gold being second) and was often reserved for depicting the robes of Angels or the Virgin Mary
19th-century lapis lazuli and diamond pendant
Sumerian bald clean-shaven male worshipper head; 2600-2500 BC; gypsum, shell, lapis lazuli and bitumen; from Nippur (Iraq); Museum of the Oriental Institute (Chicago)
Sumerian necklace beads; 2600–2500 BC; gold and lapis lazuli; length: 54 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
Sumerian necklace; 2600–2500 BC; gold and lapis lazuli; length: 22.5 cm; from the Royal Cemetery at Ur (Iraq); Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ancient Egyptian scarab finger ring; 1850–1750 BC; lapis lazuli scarab set in gold plate and on a gold wire ring lapis-lazuli; diameter: 2.5 cm, the scarab: 1.8 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Neo-Babylonian conical seal; 7th–6th century BC; lapis lazuli; height: 2.7 cm, diameter: 2.1 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Ancient Egyptian plaque with an Eye of Horus; 664–332 BC; lapis lazuli; length: 1.8 cm, width: 1.6 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Greek or Roman ring stone; lapis lazuli; 2.1 x 1.6 x 0.3 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Roman bead ornament; gold and lapis lazuli; 3 × 1.8 × 0.5 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
20th century silver ring with polished lapis oval; 2 x 2.4 x 1 cm
Elephant carved from lapis lazuli. Length 7 cm.
Large lapis lazuli specimen from Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains. National Museum of Natural History (Washington, D.C.)

Deep-blue metamorphic rock used as a semi-precious stone that has been prized since antiquity for its intense color.

- Lapis lazuli
Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan in its natural state

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Ultramarine pigment

Ultramarine

Ultramarine pigment
Lapis lazuli specimen (rough), Afghanistan
Natural ultramarine
Synthetic ultramarine violet
The Wilton Diptych (1395–1399) is an example of the use of ultramarine in 14th century England
The blue robes of the Virgin Mary by Masaccio (1426) were painted with ultramarine.
Pietro Perugino economized on this painting of the Virgin Mary (about 1500) by using azurite for the underpainting of the robe, then adding a layer of ultramarine on top.
Titian made dramatic use of ultramarine in the sky and draperies of Bacchus and Ariadne (1520–23).
Sassoferrato's depiction of the Blessed Virgin Mary, c. 1654. Her blue cloak is painted in ultramarine.<ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/sassoferrato-the-virgin-in-prayer|title=assoferrato-the-virgin-in-prayer|publisher=www.nationalgallery.org.uk|access-date=2014}}</ref>
Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1665)
Lady Standing at a Virginal, by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1675)

Ultramarine is a deep blue color pigment which was originally made by grinding lapis lazuli into a powder.

Afghanistan

Landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.

Landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia.

Tents of Afghan nomads in the northern Badghis province of Afghanistan. Early peasant farming villages came into existence in Afghanistan about 7,000 years ago.
The extent of the Indus Valley Civilization during its mature phase
A "Bactrian gold" Scythian belt depicting Dionysus, from Tillya Tepe in the ancient region of Bactria
Approximate maximum extent of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom, formed by the fragmentation of Alexander the Great's Empire, circa 180 BCE
Saffarid rule at its greatest extent under Ya'qub ibn al-Layth al-Saffar
Mongol invasions and conquests depopulated large areas of Afghanistan
Map of the Hotak Empire during the Reign of Mirwais Hotak, 1715.
Map of the Hotak Empire at its height in 1728. Disputed between Hussain Hotak (Centered in Kandahar) and Ashraf Hotak (centered in Isfahan)
Portrait of Ahmad Shah Durrani c. 1757.
Afghan tribesmen in 1841, painted by British officer James Rattray
Map of Afghanistan (Emirate) and surrounding nations in 1860, following the conquest of [[Principality of Qandahar|
Kandahar]], and before the conquest of Herat.
Emir Amanullah invaded British India in 1919 and proclaimed Afghanistan's full independence thereafter. He proclaimed himself King of Afghanistan in June 1926.
King Zahir, the last reigning monarch of Afghanistan, who reigned from 1933 until 1973.
Development of the civil war from 1992 to late 2001
U.S. troops and Chinooks in Afghanistan, 2008
A map of Afghanistan showing the 2021 Taliban offensive
Taliban fighters in Kabul on a captured Humvee following the 2021 fall of Kabul.
The mountainous topography of Afghanistan
Köppen climate map of Afghanistan
The snow leopard was the official national animal of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
A 2005 CIA map showing traditional Afghan tribal territories. Pashtun tribes form the world's largest tribal society.
Ethnolinguistic map of Afghanistan (2001)
Blue Mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif is the largest mosque in Afghanistan
UNESCO Institute of Statistics Afghanistan Literacy Rate population plus15 1980–2018
The Daoud Khan Military Hospital in Kabul is one of the largest hospitals in Afghanistan
The Arg (the Presidential palace) in Kabul
U.S. representative Zalmay Khalilzad (left) meeting with Taliban leaders, Abdul Ghani Baradar, Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, Suhail Shaheen, unidentified. Doha, Qatar on 21 November 2020.
Afghanistan is divided into 34 provinces, which are further divided into a number of districts
Workers processing pomegranates (anaar), which Afghanistan is famous for in Asia
Afghan rugs are one of Afghanistan's main exports
Afghan saffron has been recognized as the world's best
Lapis lazuli stones
Afghanistan electricity supply 1980–2019
Band-e Amir National Park
The Minaret of Jam is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, currently under threat by erosion and flooding
The Salang Tunnel, once the highest tunnel in the world, provides a key connection between the north and south of the country
An Ariana Afghan Airlines Airbus A310 in 2006
An Afghan family near Kholm, 1939 – most Afghans are tribal
A house occupied by nomadic kochi people in Nangarhar Province
Kabul skyline, displaying both historical and contemporary buildings
A traditional Afghan embroidery pattern
The Afghan rubab
Non (bread) from a local baker, the most widely consumed bread in Afghanistan
Haft Mewa (Seven Fruit Syrup) is popularly consumed during Nowruz in Afghanistan
The ancient national sport of Afghanistan, Buzkashi

Goods and ideas were exchanged at this center point, such as Chinese silk, Persian silver and Roman gold, while the region of present Afghanistan was mining and trading lapis lazuli stones mainly from the Badakhshan region.

Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, Sindh province, Pakistan, showing the Great Bath in the foreground. Mohenjo-daro, on the right bank of the Indus River, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first site in South Asia to be so declared.

Indus Valley Civilisation

Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE.

Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE.

Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, Sindh province, Pakistan, showing the Great Bath in the foreground. Mohenjo-daro, on the right bank of the Indus River, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first site in South Asia to be so declared.
Miniature votive images or toy models from Harappa, c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the presence of the chicken, a domesticated jungle fowl.
Major sites and extent of the Indus Valley Civilisation
Alexander Cunningham, the first director general of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), interpreted a Harappan stamp seal in 1875.
R. D. Banerji, an officer of the ASI, visited Mohenjo-daro in 1919–1920, and again in 1922–1923, postulating the site's far-off antiquity.
John Marshall, the director-general of the ASI from 1902 to 1928, who oversaw the excavations in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, shown in a 1906 photograph
Early Harappan Period, c. 3300–2600 BCE
Terracotta boat in the shape of a bull, and female figurines. Kot Diji period (c. 2800–2600 BC).
Mature Harappan Period, c. 2600–1900 BCE
Skull of a Harappan, Indian Museum
Harappan weights found in the Indus Valley, (National Museum, New Delhi)
Male dancing torso; 2400-1900 BC; limestone; height: 9.9 cm; National Museum (New Delhi)
red jasper male torso
Stamp seals and (right) impressions, some of them with Indus script; probably made of steatite; British Museum (London)
human deity with the horns, hooves and tail of a bull
Archaeological discoveries suggest that trade routes between Mesopotamia and the Indus were active during the 3rd millennium BCE, leading to the development of Indus–Mesopotamia relations.
Boat with direction-finding birds to find land. Model of Mohenjo-daro seal, 2500–1750 BCE.(National Museum, New Delhi)
Ten Indus characters from the northern gate of Dholavira, dubbed the Dholavira signboard
The Pashupati seal, showing a seated figure surrounded by animals
Swastika seals of Indus Valley Civilisation in British Museum
Late Harappan Period, c. 1900–1300 BCE
Late Harappan figures from a hoard at Daimabad, 2000 BCE (Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay)
Painted pottery urns from Harappa (Cemetery H culture, c. 1900–1300 BCE), National Museum, New Delhi
Impression of a cylinder seal of the Akkadian Empire, with label: "The Divine Sharkalisharri Prince of Akkad, Ibni-Sharrum the Scribe his servant". The long-horned buffalo is thought to have come from the Indus Valley, and testifies to exchanges with Meluhha, the Indus Valley civilisation. Circa 2217–2193 BCE. Louvre Museum.
Ceremonial vessel; 2600-2450 BC; terracotta with black paint; 49.53 × 25.4 cm; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (US)
Cubical weights, standardised throughout the Indus cultural zone; 2600-1900 BC; chert; British Museum (London)
Mohenjo-daro beads; 2600-1900 BC; carnelian and terracotta; British Museum
Ram-headed bird mounted on wheels, probably a toy; 2600-1900 BC; terracotta; Guimet Museum (Paris)
Reclining mouflon; 2600–1900 BC; marble; length: 28 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
The Priest-King; 2400–1900 BC; low fired steatite; height: 17.5 cm; National Museum of Pakistan (Karachi)
The Dancing Girl; 2400–1900 BC; bronze; height: 10.8 cm; National Museum (New Delhi)
Seal; 3000–1500 BC; baked steatite; 2 × 2 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)
Stamp seal and modern impression: unicorn and incense burner (?); 2600-1900 BC; burnt steatite; 3.8 × 3.8 × 1 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art
Seal with two-horned bull and inscription; 2010 BC; steatite; overall: 3.2 x 3.2 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio, US)
Seal with unicorn and inscription; 2010 BC; steatite; overall: 3.5 x 3.6 cm; Cleveland Museum of Art

Trade networks linked this culture with related regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials, including lapis lazuli and other materials for bead-making.

Detail of the painting The Procuress (c. 1656), believed to be a self portrait by Vermeer

Johannes Vermeer

Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.

Dutch Baroque Period painter who specialized in domestic interior scenes of middle-class life.

Detail of the painting The Procuress (c. 1656), believed to be a self portrait by Vermeer
Delft in 1649, by cartographer Willem Blaeu
The Jesuit Church on the Oude Langendijk in Delft, circa 1730, brush in gray ink, by Abraham Rademaker, coll. Stadsarchief Delft
Replica of the St. Luke Guildhouse on Voldersgracht in Delft
A View of Delft after the Explosion of 1654, by Egbert van der Poel
View of Delft (1660–61): "He took a turbulent reality, and made it look like Heaven on earth."
The Little Street (1657–58)
Memorial (2007) of Johannes Vermeer in Oude Kerk. Delft, Netherlands
The Milkmaid (c. 1658), Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
Théophile Thoré-Bürger
The Girl with the Wine Glass (c. 1659), Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Brunswick, Germany
The Music Lesson or A Lady at the Virginals with a Gentleman (c. 1662–1665), Royal Collection in London
Girl with a Pearl Earring (1665), considered a Vermeer masterpiece, Mauritshuis in Den Haag
Girl with the Red Hat (c. 1665-1666), National Gallery of Art
Mistress and Maid (1666–67)
The Art of Painting or The Allegory of Painting (c. 1666–1668), Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
The Astronomer (c. 1668), Musée du Louvre in Paris
The Geographer (1669), Städel Museum in Frankfurt am Main
Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid (c. 1670–71), National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin, Ireland
The Allegory of Faith (1670 - 1672), Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
Lady Seated at a Virginal (c. 1670–72), National Gallery in London

There is no other 17th-century artist who employed the exorbitantly expensive pigment lapis lazuli (natural ultramarine) either so lavishly or so early in his career.

Lazurite, Ladjuar Medam (Lajur Madan; Lapis-lazuli Mine), Sar-e-Sang District, Koksha Valley (Kokscha; Kokcha), Badakhshan (Badakshan; Badahsan) Province, Afghanistan

Lazurite

Tectosilicate mineral with sulfate, sulfur and chloride with formula 8[(S,Cl,SO4,OH)2.

Tectosilicate mineral with sulfate, sulfur and chloride with formula 8[(S,Cl,SO4,OH)2.

Lazurite, Ladjuar Medam (Lajur Madan; Lapis-lazuli Mine), Sar-e-Sang District, Koksha Valley (Kokscha; Kokcha), Badakhshan (Badakshan; Badahsan) Province, Afghanistan

It is usually massive and forms the bulk of the gemstone lapis lazuli.

Pigments for sale at a market stall in Goa, India.

Pigment

Colored material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water.

Colored material that is completely or nearly insoluble in water.

Pigments for sale at a market stall in Goa, India.
A wide variety of wavelengths (colors) encounter a pigment. This pigment absorbs red and green light, but reflects blue—giving the substance a blue-colored appearance.
Sunlight encounters Rosco R80 "Primary Blue" pigment. The product of the source spectrum and the reflectance spectrum of the pigment results in the final spectrum, and the appearance of blue.
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1665).
Natural ultramarine pigment in powdered form
Synthetic ultramarine pigment is chemically identical to natural ultramarine
Phthalo Blue
The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1658). Vermeer was lavish in his choice of expensive pigments, including lead-tin-yellow, natural ultramarine, and madder lake, as shown in the vibrant painting.<ref>Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid {{webarchive|url=https://web.archive.org/web/20150414144606/http://colourlex.com/project/vermeer-the-milkmaid/ |date=14 April 2015 }}, ColourLex</ref>
Titian used the historic pigment Vermilion to create the reds in the oil painting of Assunta, completed c. 1518.
Miracle of the Slave by Tintoretto (c. 1548). The son of a master dyer, Tintoretto used Carmine Red Lake pigment, derived from the cochineal insect, to achieve dramatic color effects.
Self Portrait by Paul Cézanne. Working in the late 19th century, Cézanne had a much broader palette of colors than his predecessors.

Pigments of prehistoric and historic value include ochre, charcoal, and lapis lazuli.

Sodalite

Tectosilicate mineral with the formula, with royal blue varieties widely used as an ornamental gemstone.

Tectosilicate mineral with the formula, with royal blue varieties widely used as an ornamental gemstone.

A sample of sodalite-carbonate pegmatite from Bolivia, with a polished rock surface.
Hackmanite dodecahedron from the Koksha Valley, Afghanistan
Hippo in sodalite, length 9 cm (3.5 in)

Although somewhat similar to lazurite and lapis lazuli, sodalite rarely contains pyrite (a common inclusion in lapis) and its blue color is more like traditional royal blue rather than ultramarine.

Part of the excavations

Shortugai

Part of the excavations

Shortugai (Shortughai), in Darqad District of northern Afghanistan, was a trading colony of the Indus Valley Civilization (or Harappan Civilization) established around 2000 BC on the Oxus river (Amu Darya) near the lapis lazuli mines.

Lazurite contains.

Trisulfur

Cherry-red allotrope of sulfur.

Cherry-red allotrope of sulfur.

Lazurite contains.

The gemstone lapis lazuli and the mineral lazurite (from which the pigment ultramarine is derived) contain.

Bronze head of an Akkadian ruler, discovered in Nineveh in 1931, presumably depicting either Sargon or, more probably, Sargon's grandson Naram-Sin. Reproduction in the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, the original from the Iraq Museum having been lost in the 2003 lootings.

Akkadian Empire

The first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer.

The first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer.

Bronze head of an Akkadian ruler, discovered in Nineveh in 1931, presumably depicting either Sargon or, more probably, Sargon's grandson Naram-Sin. Reproduction in the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, the original from the Iraq Museum having been lost in the 2003 lootings.
Akkad before expansion (in green). The territory of Sumer under its last king Lugal-Zage-Si appears in orange. Circa 2350 BC
Bronze head of an Akkadian ruler, discovered in Nineveh in 1931, presumably depicting either Sargon or, more probably, Sargon's grandson Naram-Sin. Reproduction in the Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, the original from the Iraq Museum having been lost in the 2003 lootings.
Sargon on his victory stele, with a royal hair bun, holding a mace and wearing a flounced royal coat on his left shoulder with a large belt (left), followed by an attendant holding a royal umbrella. The name of Sargon in cuneiform ("King Sargon") appears faintly in front of his face. Louvre Museum.
Akkadian official in the retinue of Sargon of Akkad, holding an axe
Prisoners escorted by a soldier, on a victory stele of Sargon of Akkad, circa 2300 BC. The hairstyle of the prisoners (curly hair on top and short hair on the sides) is characteristic of Sumerians, as also seen on the Standard of Ur. Louvre Museum.
Akkadian soldiers slaying enemies, circa 2300 BC, possibly from a Victory Stele of Rimush.
Portrait of Naram-Sin, with inscription in his name.
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, celebrating victory against the Lullubi from Zagros 2260 BC. He is wearing a horned helmet, a symbol of divinity, and is also portrayed in a larger scale in comparison to others to emphasize his superiority. Brought back from Sippar to Susa as war prize in the 12th century BC.
Seal of Lugal-ushumgal as vassal of Naram-sin
The Gutians capturing a Babylonian city, as the Akkadians are making a stand outside of their city. 19th century illustration.
"Cylinder Seal with King or God and Vanquished Lion" (Old Akkadian). The Walters Art Museum.
Impression of a cylinder seal of the time of Akkadian King Sharkalisharri (c.2200 BC), with central inscription: "The Divine Sharkalisharri Prince of Akkad, Ibni-Sharrum the Scribe his servant". The long-horned buffalo is thought to have come from the Indus Valley, and testifies to exchanges with Meluhha (the Indus Valley civilization) in a case of Indus-Mesopotamia relations. Circa 2217–2193 BC. Louvre Museum.
Akkadian Empire soldiers on the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, circa 2250 BC
Cylinder seal of the scribe Kalki, showing Prince Ubil-Eshtar, probable brother of Sargon, with dignitaries (an archer in front, the scribe holding a tablet following the Prince, and two dignitaries with weapons).
Sea shell of a murex bearing the name of Rimush, king of Kish, c. 2270 BC, Louvre, traded from the Mediterranean coast where it was used by Canaanites to make a purple dye.
Location of foreign lands for the Mesopotamians, including Elam, Magan, Dilmun, Marhashi and Meluhha.
Tablet in Akkadian language recording domestic animals, Bismaya, reign of Shar-kali-sharri, c. 2100 BC, clay – Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago
Enheduanna, daughter of Sargon of Akkad, circa 2300 BC
Goddess Ishtar on an Akkadian seal, 2350–2150 BC
Life-size Bassetki Statue from the reign of Naram-Sin of Akkad with an inscription mentioning the construction of a temple in Akkad. National Museum of Iraq
The Bassetki statue, another example of Akkadian artistic realism
The Manishtushu statue
Statue of an Akkadian ruler. From Assur, Iraq, c. 2300 BC. Pergamon Museum.
Fragment of the statue of a devotee, with inscription in the name of Naram-Sin: "To the god Erra, for the life of Naram-Sin, the powerful, his companion, the king of the four regions, Shu'astakkal, the scribe, the majordomo, has dedicated his statue".<ref>{{cite web |title=Site officiel du musée du Louvre |url=http://cartelfr.louvre.fr/cartelfr/visite?srv=car_not&idNotice=12209 |website=cartelfr.louvre.fr}}</ref>
thumb|upright=1.8|Inscription "Adda, the scribe", hunting god with bow and an arrow, Ishtar with weapons rising from her shoulders, emerging sun-god Shamash, Zu bird of destiny, water god Ea with bull between legs, two-faced attendant god Usimu with right hand raised.<ref>{{cite web |title=The Adda Seal |url=https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=368706&partId=1&searchText=89115&page=1 |website=British Museum}}</ref>
Akkadian seal depicting an agricultural scene. Louvre Museum
Summer God and Dumuzi. Louvre Museum
Ea wrestling with a water buffalo, and bull-man Enkidu fighting with a lion.

Trade extended from the silver mines of Anatolia to the lapis lazuli mines in modern Afghanistan, the cedars of Lebanon and the copper of Magan.