Download Full Text (3.3 MB)


image preview

Publication Source

Seeking Transparency: Rock Crystals Across the Medieval Mediterranean

Inclusive Pages


Creation Date



Dietrich Reimer


Chapter from book: Seeking Transparency: Rock Crystals Across the Medieval Mediterranean

Editors: Avinoam Shalem, Cynthia Hahn Authors: Zainab Bahrani, Isabelle Bardies, Farid Benfeghoul, Patrick R. Crowley, Brigitte Buettner, Beate Fricke, Stefania Gerevini, Marisa Galvez, Jeremy Johns, Genevra Kornbluth, Jens Kröger, Ingeborg Krueger, Elise Morero, Bissera V. Pentcheva, Marcus Pilz, Stephane Pradines, Venetia Porter, Hara Procopiou, Gia Toussaint, Roberto Vargiolu, Hassan Zahouani

Document Type

Book Chapter


Like the sea, and the watery medium with which rock crystal is identified in the Middle Ages, the history of its production during the Middle Ages ebbs and flows. From Late Antiquity to the age of the great Portuguese expansion, specific knowledge about carving the hard material, was kept a closely guarded secret in just a few centers of production. All the while, royal courts and wealthy churches were eager patrons for the luxurious objects given that rock crystal was valued as one of the most desirable and precious of all materials, ascribed mysterious origins and powers, and renowned for both rarity and clarity. This collection of essays reveals the global and cross-cultural histories of rock-crystal production in and even beyond the lands of the Mediterranean Sea. It investigates many objects and varied aspects of rock crystal such as: the physical nature and legendary as well as actual origins of the material; its manufacturing techniques and affiliations to other luxurious objects, such as cut glass and carved precious stones; legends and traditions associated with its aesthetic qualities; as well as issues concerning its varied functions and historiography. Source: Publisher

Icy Geometry: Rock Crystal in Lapidary Knowledge

Five College Library Catalog



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.