Evaluating Potential Lapis Lazuli Sources for Ancient South Asia Using Sulfur Isotope Analysis

"Lazurite - the constituent of lapis lazuli that gives the rock its blue color - is a rare mineral in nature," writes Randall Law, and there is likely to have been only one source in the region during ancient times, the Badakhshan mines in Afghanistan. This extremely interesting paper discusses why the author believes the recently uncovered lapis source in the Chagai Hills of Balochistan is apocryphal, and engages in a wide-ranging discussion of lapis in ancient Indus times. It was not a common Indus artifact, and seems to have been more valued in Mesopotamia and the Near East than South Asia for example. A highly recommended paper, by a scholar at the forefront of using isotope analysis to track down the physical origins of Indus raw materials, which is casting much light on trade networks and economics.

Image Courtesy GIA