The Tetrarchs, a porphyry sculpture sacked from the Byzantine Philadelphion palace in 1204, Treasury of St. Marks, Venice
The Tetrarchs, an Imperial porphyry sculpture sacked from the Byzantine Philadelphion palace in 1204, Treasury of St. Marks, Venice

Porphyry is a type of igneous rock that is famous for its distinctive purple-red coloration, caused by the presence of iron oxide. It is a very hard and durable material, making it ideal for use in construction and sculpture. The Romans were particularly fond of porphyry and used it extensively in their buildings and monuments.

There are several types of porphyry, each with its own unique characteristics. One of the most famous types is known as Imperial Porphyry, which was quarried from a single location in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. Imperial Porphyry has a deep purple-red color and was reserved for use in the most important imperial projects, such as the columns in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Another type of porphyry is Swedish porphyry is a type of igneous rock that is found in Sweden, particularly in the region of Värmland. It is a volcanic rock that is characterized by its dark red coloration and distinctive porphyritic texture, which is caused by the presence of large, visible crystals of feldspar. Swedish porphyry has been quarried in Värmland since at least the 17th century and was used extensively in Sweden and other parts of Europe for decorative and construction purposes.  Today, the quarrying of Swedish porphyry is limited due to environmental concerns, but it remains a treasured material for its unique beauty and historical significance.

Grecian Green Porphyry
Grecian Green Porphyry

Lapis Spartanus Green Porphyry, which was quarried in Greece, is another variety of porphyry. It has a greenish-grey color and was often used for decorative purposes such as columns, vases, and sarcophagi.

Porphyry was highly valued in Roman times not only for its striking appearance but also for its durability. It was used for everything from columns and paving stones to statues and sarcophagi. Because of its expense and rarity, porphyry was often reserved for the most prestigious projects, such as the construction of imperial buildings and monuments.

Granito Verde della Sedia di San Lorenzo

The Granito verde della sedia di San Lorenzo, also known as Lapis Ophites, comes from Wadi Umm Wikala, near Wadi Semna, in the Eastern Desert of Egypt. It is a type of porphyritic granite that has a unique green color, which is why it was so highly prized for decorative purposes.


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