How the properties of soapstone have been valued since prehistoric times

Soapstone pot with lid (after a historic model). Photo: Lysippos / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists from Norway have published a book about this soft and workable but also durable and with a high heat-storage capacity

„Soapstone is a remarkable rock. While it is soft and very workable, it is also durable and heat-resistant, and with a high heat-storage capacity. These properties have been recognized and valued around the world since prehistoric times, and soapstone has been used for a multitude of purposes, ranging from everyday household utensils to prestigious monuments and buildings.“ Geoarcheologist Per Storemyr writes this in his latest publication titled „Soapstone in the North. Quarries, Products and People. 7000 BC – AD 1700“ which he has published together with lead editor, professor Gitte Hansen at the University of Bergen.

The book contains 17 papers by soapstone enthusiasts and sums up a research revival that has been ongoing for the last 20 years. Norway is a main focus, where soapstone has been used from the Mesolithic until today, but the book also contains papers on Greenland and the North Atlantic Isles by Danish and British scientists.

It gives brand new insights into many aspects of soapstone, especially on sourcing artefacts by combined geochemical and archaeological methods.

Other topics are related to quarries, products and associated people and institutions in a broad context. Recent years have seen a revival of basic archaeological and geological research into the procurement and use of stone resources.

The book is available for free download or as print.

Source: Per Storemyr

Soapstone is often used as heat storage around modern furnaces. Photo: Peter Becker

(05.10.2017, USA: 10.05.2017)