Emeralds of Egypt

The History of Egyptian Emeralds

Did you know that Egypt is famous for its abundance of emeralds? In fact, Egypt was the first place Emeralds were ever discovered! Dating all the way back to 1500 B.C, Egypt became a hotspot for emerald mining. These emerald mines were later called “Cleopatra’s Mines,” named after Cleopatra VII Philopator and her deep love for the gemstone.

Discovery

The first known emeralds were found in Egypt around 1500 BC. Fast forward a few centuries and the first emerald mines became known around 330 BC, located near Luxor on the Nile River. These mines were around until the 1700s until they were rediscovered & exploited by French naturalist & mineralogist Frederic Cailliaud.

Facade of Egyptian Emerald Mines

Cleopatra’s Mines

Cleopatra VII Philopator was the last active ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt from 51 to 30 BC. Along with being a queen, she had an intense love for the emerald gemstone that was well documented throughout history. In fact, she loved emeralds so much that the emerald mines were named “Cleopatra’s Mines” after her.

Egyptian Emerald Legends

Along with using emeralds for their luxury jewelry, Cleopatra and the ancient Egyptians believed that emeralds symbolized many things and were also used for medicinal purposes. Emeralds were thought to have healing properties that could help treat eye disease and aid in fertility. On top of that, the Egyptians believed that emeralds were once genies that were turned to stone. The dead were also traditionally buried with emerald stones to represent eternal youth.

Statue of Cleopatra VII Philopator

Emerald Stone

RESOURCES:

https://www.gia.edu/gia-news-research/historical-reading-ancient-emerald-mines-egypt

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Statue_of_a_Ptolemaic_Queen,_perhaps_Cleopatra_VII_MET_89.2.660_EGDP013678.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SikaitLargeTempleFacade.jpg

https://www.gemporia.com/en-us/learning-library/terms/cleopatra%E2%80%99s%20emeralds/#:~:text=As%20well%20as%20using%20the,Emeralds%20to%20symbolise%20eternal%20youth.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mim_emerald.jpg