Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.
It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth. Obsidian is commonly found within the margins of rhyolitic lava flows known as obsidian flows, where the chemical composition (high silica content) induces a high viscosity and polymerization degree of the lava. The inhibition of atomic diffusion through this highly viscous and polymerized lava explains the lack of crystal growth. Obsidian is hard and brittle; it therefore fractures with very sharp edges, which had been used in the past in cutting and piercing tools, and has been used experimentally as surgical scalpel blades.
The first archaeological evidence known of usage were made from within Kariandusi and other sites of the Acheulian age (beginning 1.5 million years previously) dated 700,000 BC, although the number of objects found at these sites were very low relative to the Neolithic.
Use of obsidian in pottery of the Neolithic in the area around Lipari was found to be significantly less at a distance representing two weeks journeying.
Anatolian sources of obsidian are known to have been the material used in the Levant and modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan from a time beginning sometime about 12,500 BC.
The first attested civilized use is from excavations at Tell Brak dated the late fifth millennia.
Obsidian was valued in Stone Age cultures because, like flint, it could be fractured to produce sharp blades or arrowheads. Like all glass and some other types of naturally occurring rocks, obsidian breaks with a characteristic conchoidal fracture. It was also polished to create early mirrors.
Modern archaeologists have developed a relative dating system, obsidian hydration dating, to calculate the age of obsidian artifacts.
In Ubaid in the 5th millennium BC, blades were manufactured from obsidian mined in what is now Turkey.[ Ancient Egyptians used obsidian imported from the eastern Mediterranean and southern Red Sea regions. Obsidian was also used in ritual circumcisions because of its deftness and sharpness.
In the east of the Mediterranean the material was used to make tools, mirrors and decorative objects.
Obsidian worked into plates and other wares by Victor Lopez Pelcastre of Nopalillo, Epazoyucan, Hidalgo. On display at the Museo de Arte Popular, Mexico City.
Lithic analysis can be instrumental in understanding prehispanic groups in Mesoamerica. A careful analysis of obsidian in a culture or place can be of considerable use to reconstruct commerce, production, distribution and thereby understand economic, social and political aspects of a civilization. This is the case in Yaxchilán, a Maya city where even warfare implications have been studied linked with obsidian use and its debris. Another example is the archeological recovery at coastal Chumash sites in California indicating considerable trade with the distant site of Casa Diablo, California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Pre-Columbian Mesoamericans' use of obsidian was extensive and sophisticated; including carved and worked obsidian for tools and decorative objects. Mesoamericans also made a type of sword with obsidian blades mounted in a wooden body. Called a macuahuitl, the weapon was capable of inflicting terrible injuries, combining the sharp cutting edge of an obsidian blade with the ragged cut of a serrated weapon.
Native American people traded obsidian throughout the Americas. Each volcano and in some cases each volcanic eruption produces a distinguishable type of obsidian, making it possible for archaeologists to trace the origins of a particular artifact. Similar tracing techniques have allowed obsidian to be identified in Greece also as coming from Melos, Nisyros or Yiali, islands in the Aegean Sea. Obsidian cores and blades were traded great distances inland from the coast.[.
In Chile obsidian tools from Chaitén Volcano have been found as far away as in Chan-Chan
Obsidian was also used on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) for edged tools such as Mataia and the pupils of the eyes of their Moai (statues).
Though not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on humans, obsidian is used by some surgeons for scalpel blades, as well-crafted obsidian blades have a cutting edge many times sharper than high-quality steel surgical scalpels, the cutting edge of the blade being only about 3 nanometers thick] Even the sharpest metal knife has a jagged, irregular blade when viewed under a strong enough microscope; when examined even under an electron microscope an obsidian blade is still smooth and even. One study found that obsidian incisions produced narrower scars, fewer inflammatory cells, and less granulation tissue in a group of rats. Don Crabtree produced obsidian blades for surgery and other purposes, and has written articles on the subject. Obsidian scalpels may currently be purchased for surgical use on research animals.
Obsidian is also used for ornamental purposes and as a gemstone. It possesses the property of presenting a different appearance according to the manner in which it is cut: when cut in one direction it is jet black; in another it is glistening gray. "Apache tears" are small rounded obsidian nuggets embedded within a grayish-white perlite matrix.
Plinths for audio turntables have been made of obsidian since the 1970s; e.g. the grayish-black SH-10B3 plinth by Technics.
Mystical and Healing properties of snowflake obsidian
Snowflake Obsidian is a stone of purity. It balances mind body and spirit.
Obsidian is a very powerful stone, one which reminds us that birth and death are simultaneously and constantly present one with the other, always as one. This is a stone that has always been associated with guardian spirits that watch over us, and is connected to protection on all levels.
Snowflake Obsidian aids in clearer and more logical thinking. Carry this stone to keep others from taking advantage. This stone will reveal what needs to be changed in life to assist one in advancing.
Snowflake Obsidian has a restful and serene energy helping to bring peace and balance to the mind and body.
Snowflake Obsidian encourages inner reflection making us aware of negative patterns of thought and unhealthy patterns of behavior and giving us the chance to change them. It is also believed to help shield the wearer from negativity and grief.
In healing Snowflake Obsidian is believed to improve the circulation and to benefit the skin and veins.
Chakras - Base Chakra
Zodiac - Virgo
Typical colors - Black with white patches
In addition to the generic healing properties of Obsidian, Snowflake Obsidian is calming and soothing. It teaches you to value mistakes as well as successes. A stone of purity, Snowflake Obsidian provides balance for body, mind and spirit. It helps you recognize and release “wrong thinking” and stressful mental patterns. Promotes dispassion and inner centering. Snowflake Obsidian empowers isolation and loneliness, aiding surrender in meditation.
Snowflake Obsidian aids in disorders of the veins and the skeletal structure. It improves circulation and alleviates muscular aches and spasms. Treats joint pain (arthritis) and hardening of the arteries.
Snowflake obsidian will calm and soothe and allow you to view unhealthy patterns in your own behavior, thus opening the door to change.
Obsidian draws hidden imbalances to the surface and releases them.
The blackness of this stone enhances the ability to reach your inner self. It is one of the earliest known stones to be used for scrying.
Snowflake obsidian is used by healers to relieve muscle cramps. It is considered a good detoxification stone.
Snowflake obsidian has the property of bringing things to the surface. The things brought to the surface could be positive or negative, love, anger, secrets; but with snowflake obsidian, these things are brought to the surface more gently that they might be otherwise. Snowflake obsidian can provide balance during times of change. It aids in seeing patterns in life and recreating them in a more beneficial way. It is a stone of serenity and purity, and can shield against negativity. Snowflake obsidian gives protection from physical and emotional harm.