The word crystal derives from the Greek for ice, reflecting
a charming belief dating back to the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder,
who thought crystal quartz to be water that had been frozen
for long periods and become ice. By the 17th century, people understood
that crystal was actually a mineral found abundantly within the Earth's
continental crust and when brought to the surface, made for beautiful
crystal jewelry. The ability of crystal to split light into a spectrum is
certainly magical, as reflected in the myths surrounding quartz in culture
like Aboriginal Australia, Europe, where it has been found regularly in
passage-tomb cemeteries and prehistoric Ireland, where they venerated
grian cloch, the "stone of the sun."
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