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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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