Help Tracking Origin of Ancient Turquoise Stones

Thank you, this is great info. It’s very hard in that region to associate gemstones or beads with any specific culture beyond the neolithic (where there are some roughly distinct shell beads, I believe). It was a comparatively highly populated/settled region with tremendous change since the early Bronze Age. But the mineral characteristics of those sources are very intersting and helpful, thank you!

Thank you. I will also scout this forum
for labs that might be able to help at a reasonable cost.

I too will become the owner of these two books! thank you for the suggestion!

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I do not currently have any. But the attached picture is what I am referring to.

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Woah, amazing resources. Thank you!

Hello PaulB36648!
I haven’t been on this forum in a while and read with great interest this thread about your proposed research into turquoise jewelry (and other gems/minerals?) from ancient sources. I’m just a practical gemologist and gem cutter, so I’m not a lot of help in this matter myself. However, there is a lot of analysis of specimens that could be done, as Steve Hata points out. While tests are often destructive, some are not and others require only small samples. I think you need more input from some gemologists and geologists who are familiar with the testing procedures and the kinds of numbers you could get from them. If someone developed a database of the composition and appearance of found objects from various archaeological sites, it could become a great resource for researchers. I hope I am making sense here.

There is one fellow you should talk with, L. Bruce Jones. Bruce had an early and distinguished career in lab gemology before going into building same submarines. You can find him on Facebook. He knows all of the current sophisticated and expensive lab instruments and what kind of info can be gleaned from each of them. He can possibly assist you in determining what tests to use and what each will tell you.

If I were you I would also talk directly to GIA in Carlsbad. Their research journal is one of the main organs for research into gemstone parameters and their lab is one of the most sophisticated in the world. While they focus on gem ID and documenting new finds, I think they might find basic research into the gems of antiquity quite interesting. Possibly they would associate on some research project and even be able to suggest how to get funding.

Just throwing this out on the forum for public discussion. I’ll also try to DM you directly.

Hope this helps,

The use of a mass spectrometer present in some university laboratories and by measuring the ratio between stable and unstable isotopes can estimate the age of a rock or mineral, even a gem.
dr. Piero Manuelli FGA Gem-A

There is a facebook group “Lets Talk Quality Turquoise” that has members around the world, some sciency people and and some experts in turquoise. I think the ability to determine source of a stone requires in person examination, but the diagnostic criteria you are after might be the kinds of tests that GIA does.
Some people can determine where a stone is likely to have originated if its specific mines they are familiar with. But what smart gemologists will tell you is its not possible to do that in a picture. And turquoise experts will always offer an opinion with the caveat “only the miner knows where it truely came from”.
Try the FB group or the one on Turquoise Formation.
And if you have not discovered it yet, Mindat is a major database online of minerals and localities, sometimes with pictures of the localities & material, and good descriptive material.
P.S. I worked as an archaeologist early on in my career and was trying to do pottery origin analysis of meso american stuff based on the clay composition to map trade routes, so I appreciate the scope of your inquiry.

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Do you happen to have, or can point me to, a pic?

Thank you very much for the reply, it is great info. I’ll reach out to the contacts you suggest, thank you!

just the one I previously posted. I do not currently have any, although I do want to get some more when I find it!