They are wonderful stand-alone pieces as well as make lovely natural platforms for other crystals or pieces of artwork.
|"Byzantine - The "Rubens Vase" - Walters 42562"|
(Byzantine Empire) - Walters Art Museum:
Carved in high relief from a single piece of agate,
this extraordinary vase was most likely created
in an imperial workshop for a Byzantine emperor.
Agate is one of the most common materials used in the art of hard stone carving, and has been recovered at a number of ancient sites, indicating its widespread use in the ancient world; for example, archaeological recovery at the Knossos site on Crete illustrates its role in Bronze Age Minoan culture. Most agates occur as nodules in volcanic rocks or ancient lavas, in former cavities produced by volatiles in the original molten mass, which were then filled, wholly or partially, by siliceous matter deposited in regular layers upon the walls. Agate has also been known to fill veins or cracks in volcanic or altered rock underlain by granitic intrusive masses. Such agates, when cut transversely, exhibit a succession of parallel lines, often of extreme tenuity, giving a banded appearance to the section. Such stones are known as banded agate, riband agate and striped agate.