Ancient Egyptian scarab made from the rare semi-precious stone lapis lazuli.In ancient Egypt Lapis Lazuli was a favorite stone for amulets and ornaments such as scarabs; the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians also used it in ancient Mesopotamia for seals and jewelry.Lapis jewelry has been found at excavations of the Predynastic Egyptian site Naqada (3300–3100 BC), and powdered Lapis was used as eye shadow by Cleopatra. In ancient Mesopotamia, lapis artifacts can be found in great abundance, with many notable examples having been excavated at the Royal Cemetery of Ur (2600-2500 BC).Lapis Lazuli was widely used by Egyptians for cosmetics and painting. Persian legend says that the heavens owed their blue color to a massive slab of Lapis upon which the Earth rested.
Lapis lazuli was being mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Trade in the stone is ancient enough for lapis jewelry to have been found at Predynastic Egyptian and ancient Sumerian sites, and as lapis beads at neolithic burials in Mehrgarh, the Caucasus, and even as far from Afghanistan as Mauritania.