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As to specular1 stone—for this, too, is ranked as one of the stones—it admits of being divided with still greater facility, and can be split into leaves as thin as may be desired. The province of Nearer Spain used formerly to be the only one that furnished it—not, indeed, the whole of that country, but a district extending for a hundred miles around the city of Segobrica2 But at the present day, Cyprus, Cappadocia, and Sicily, supply us with it; and, still more recently, it has been discovered in Africa: they are all, however, looked upon as inferior to the stone which comes from Spain. The sheets from Cappadocia are the largest in size; but then they are clouded. This stone is to be found also in the territory of Bononia,3 in Italy; but in small pieces only, covered with spots and encrusted in a bed of silex, there being a considerable affinity, it would appear, in their nature.

In Spain, the specular-stone is extracted from shafts sunk in the earth to a very considerable depth; though it is occasionally to be found just beneath the surface, enclosed in the solid rock, and extracted without difficulty, or else cut away from its bed. In most cases, however, it admits of being dug up, being of an isolated nature, and lying in pieces, like ragstone, but never known as yet to exceed five feet in length. It would appear that this substance is originally a liquid, which, by an animating power in the earth, becomes congealed like crystal; and it is very evident that it is the result of petrifaction, from the fact that, when animals have fallen into the shafts from which it is extracted, the marrow of their bones becomes transformed into stone of a similar nature, by the end of a single winter. In some cases, too, it is found of a black colour: but the white stone has the marvellous property, soft as it is known to be, of resisting the action of the sun and of cold. Nor will it, if it is only protected from accidents, become deteriorated by lapse of time, a thing that is so generally the case with many other kinds of stone that are used for building purposes. The shavings, too, and scales of this stone, have been used of late for another purpose; the Circus Maximus having been strewed with them at the celebration of the games, with the object of producing an agreeable whiteness.

1 Or "Mirror-stone." Transparent Selenite or gypsum; a sulphate of lime.

2 Now Segorba, in Valentia.

3 Ajasson is of opinion that various kinds of mica and talc are the minerals here alluded to.

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    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), TEMPLUM
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