Lapis has been highly valued for many thousands of years. The most famous locality for fine quality lapis lazuli is in the same ancient deposit high in the mountains of Afghanistan where it was originally mined at least 6000 years ago.
It was said to impart ancient knowledge, and the wisdom to use it and to enhance one’s awareness, insight and intellect.
Ground lapis was the secret of the blue in ultramarine, the pigment which painters used to paint the sea and the sky until the nineteenth century. Which means that all of the beautiful blues in paintings from the Renaissance are thanks to the blue of lapis lazuli; the blue rock loved by the ancients, from Mesopotamia, to Egypt, to Persia, to Greece and Rome. The ancient city of Ur has had a thriving trade in lapis as early as the fourth millennium B.C. The name is international, from the Latin, lapis, which means stone, and from the Arabic, aula, which means blue. When lapis was first introduced to Europe, it was called ultramarinum, which means beyond the sea.