Lapis lazuli is one of the most interesting gems known in the archeology and history of the East. Lapis lazuli, which has been used for jewelry and handicrafts by the inhabitants of ancient Armenia, Assyria, Babylon, and the cities of the Indus Valley, is still considered a first-class material for the manufacture of jewelry and decorative items.
The history of another gem is closely intertwined with lapis lazuli – this gem is the “Armenian stone” or “arminakun”. Back in Mesopotamia, jewelers have used both lapis lazuli (“Afghan stone”) from Badakhshan and azurite (“Armenian stone”) from copper mines in Armenia.
Despite the completely different origin, these minerals often replaced each other. Many Arab authors did not distinguish between them at all and called both “arminakun” – that is, “Armenian stone”.
The Armenian lapis lazuli (ultramarine) was first mentioned by the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (1st century BC), the author of the famous treatise “De Architectura”. Another early mention of the Armenian stone belongs to the ancient Roman erudite Pliny the Elder.
The healing properties of the Armenian stone were known to historian and physician from Asia Minor Dioscorides (1st century), who wrote that “lapis armenius” was a smooth, sky-blue stone that easily disintegrated.
6th-century Greek physician Alexander of Tralles believed that this stone was excellent for the treatment of “four-day fever.”
Medieval philosophers and doctors also mention the Armenian stone. Since the 10th century, the Armenian stone has appeared in almost all Arab pharmacopeias.
In medieval Armenian medicine, “arminakun” was one of the most common medicines for the treatment of various types of fevers. The outstanding Armenian physician Mkhitar Heratsi (12th century) included the Armenian stone and lapis lazuli in the composition of “airlich pills”, which “help against diseases of the head, eyes, bones, and remove excess moisture from the head and the whole body.”
Already in the 19th and 20th centuries, many scientists addressed the history of the Armenian stone. Famous orientalist and Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Kerope Patkanyan (1833-1889) wrote that the famous variety of lapis lazuli was mined in Armenia itself. Russian mineralogist Alexander Fersman confirmed Patkanyan’s claims in his research.
Today, it is difficult to say whether samples or products made of the Armenian stone have survived to this day. But according to some modern mineralogists, both Armenian stone and Afghan lapis lazuli have been used in many finds.
Հայաստանի առեղծվածները. Հայկական քարի գաղտնիքը