Jasper

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Jasper, a form of chalcedony,[1] is an opaque,[2] impure variety of silica, usually red, yellow, brown or green in color. Blue is rare. This mineral breaks with a smooth surface, and is used for ornamentation or as a gemstone. It can be highly polished and is used for vases, seals, and at one time for snuff boxes. When the colors are in stripes or bands, it is called striped or banded jasper. Jaspilite is a banded iron formation rock that often has distinctive bands of jasper. Jasper is basically chert which owes its red color to iron(III) inclusions. The specific gravity of jasper is typically 2.5 to 2.9.[3] The jasper is also a stone in the Jewish High Priest's breastplate, described in Exodus 28.

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Etymology and history

The name means "spotted or speckled stone", and is derived via Old French jaspre (variant of Anglo-Norman jaspe) and Latin iaspidem (nom. iaspis)) from Greek ἴασπις iaspis, (feminine noun)[4] from a Semitic language (cf. Hebrew ישפה yashepheh, Akkadian ܝܫܦܗ yashupu), ultimately from Persian یشپ yašp.[5]

Green jasper was used to make bow drills in Mehrgarh between 4th-5th millennium BC.[6] Jasper is known to have been a favorite gem in the ancient world; its name can be traced back in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek and Latin.[7] On Minoan Crete within present day Greece jasper was carved to produce seals circa 1800 BC based upon archaeological recoveries at the palace of Knossos.[8]

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