The Quarry

The story goes that Isamu Noguchi always dreamed of traveling to the ancient marble quarry on Paros to select a stone for one of his sculptures, and at 82, he finally made the journey.  It was my teacher, John Pack, who led him through the passages which he knows backwards and forwards, some of which were opened as early as 5000 BC, and to a deposit of the finest white stone.  Sadly, Noguchi died later that year before his piece was extracted, but it made for one hell of a tale as we stood at the bottom of the quarry shaft today.

With a luminosity unlike stone from anywhere else in the world, Parian marble is generally the only kind of marble that museums will note alongside their artifacts, and from it were hewn (historians believe) many heavy-hitting names of the ancient world: the Venus de Milo, the Elgin Marbles, and the roof tiles of the Parthenon.   They say that light can penetrate it to a thickness of 4-6 centimeters, but today, after meditating in total darkness for a few minutes, John held a chunk about 20 centimeters at it’s longest, and 12 centimeters at its widest over his LED flashlight, and the entire thing glowed.  Imagine, then, standing inside the Parthenon, who’s roof tiles were about 3 cm thick.  The light must have been incredible.

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