Large chunk of Ancient Egyptian Porphyry (one side is carved flat)
This particular Imperial grade of porphyry all came from the Gabal Abu Dukhan quarry in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, from 600 million-year-old andesite of the Arabian-Nubian Shield. The road from the quarry westward to Qena (Roman Maximianopolis) on the Nile, which Ptolemy put on his second-century map, was first described by Strabo, and it is to this day known as the Via Porphyrites, the Porphyry Road, its track marked by the hydreumata, or watering wells that made it viable in this utterly dry landscape.
Porphyry was extensively used in Byzantine imperial monuments, for example in Hagia Sophia and in the "Porphyra", the official delivery room for use of pregnant Empresses in the Great Palace of Constantinople.
After the fifth century the quarry was lost to sight for many centuries. Byzantium scholar Alexander Vasiliev suggested this was the consequence of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE and the subsequent troubles in Egypt. The scientific members of the French Expedition under Napoleon sought it in vain, and it was only when the Eastern Desert was reopened for study under Muhammad Ali that the site was rediscovered by James Burton and John Gardiner Wilkinson in 1823.
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95 000 €
85 000 €