Agate is a semi-transparent or rather an opaque variety of Chalcedony. This gem is famous thanks to its banded structure. The origin of this structure is due to the presence of a high abundance of thin colored layers inside it. This stone is harder than Quartz. Therefore, it fits for jewelry purposes. Chemically, Agate is pure silicon. Each specimen of Agate is unique. None of them is similar to others. Its origin is volcanic rocks. Hence it is a very durable mineral.
The Sumerians were the first who discovered the decorative value of Agate. As a result, there are lots of examples of Mesopotamian jewelry made of Agate. During the excavations, the Archeologists found various beads, rings, and necklaces made of this gem. The Sumerians also used Agate to create their poleaxes, according to the sources. You can find one of these poleaxes dated 3000 – 2300 B.C. in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Both Theophrastus and Pliny noted that the Agate was a gemstone of high esteem. However, Pliny mentions that, afterward, Agat has lost its value due to its abundance in numerous locations. Agate came to Europe from Constantinople. It was an agate bowl delivered in Vienna by the Crusaders. However, the Arabian trail of the appearance of the Agate in Europe is not correct. The Arabic authors claim that the first Agates came from India and Africa. Indeed, Pliny stated that the Agate has been in favor in India since ancient times. The first Agates appeared thanks to decomposition of the trap of the Deccan plateau in India. This process lasted for thousands of years.
We can trace the trail of Agate in Sanskrit literature, principally in medicinal treatises of Tibet. We also meet some mentions of this gem in the ancient Chines literature. However, the Chinese authors refer to the sources, which claim that Agate came to China from the western and southern barbarians, more specifically from Indo-Scythians. But it got in China thanks to the Arabian merchants in the 8th century. On the other hand, the authors of Chines Encyclopedia affirm that this gem came to China from Europe under the name “foreign agate.”
Magical Properties Attributed To Agate
Pliny states that the Agate is capable of curing wounds, infected by scorpions and spiders. However, the subsequent authors notice that Pliny probably meant those scorpions, dwelled in Sicily, who lose their poison.
There are many superstitions regarding Agate. In Persia, the locals used this gemstone for disinfection as well as to prevent hurricanes and storms. Also, people believed that Agate of a particular color could make any warrior invisible. There was also a very curious superstition that Agate could help the divers in their searches of Pearls. According to Physiologus (ancient Greek manuscript), Agate turns into the direction of the supposed Pearls location.