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Mined for millenia in the mountains in the northeastern province of Badakhshan in Afghanistan, lapis lazuli is a semi-precious gemstone that is known for its striking blue color as well as the flecks of gold pyrite that pepper the stone. Among the scientific community today it is referenced and classified only by its physical attributes (color, texture, mineral components), chemical attributes, and geological formation. However, the mystical entanglements of lapis cannot be removed from the cultural, religious, or indeed scientific history of the stone; indeed, it may be argued that lapis, and the magical ideals it possesses, have proven to be a subterranean force shaping the history of mineralogy as we know it today. This exhibit traces these mythic, mystical entanglements, through the history of its first discovery in Afghanistan, its proliferation among ancient material culture, and finally to how its magical attributes shaped the writings of Georgius Agricola, the father of modern geology. This exhibit will challenge you to rethink the arbitrary categories of empirical observation that we have come to value when talking about minerals, and invite you to broaden your perspective to consider the deeply embedded history of this intensely blue stone.

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