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| Marble is a metamorphic
rock resulting from the metamorphism of limestone,
composed mostly of calcite
(a crystalline form of calcium carbonate, CaCO3). It is extensively used
for sculpture, as a building material, and in many other applications. The
word 'marble' is colloquially used to refer to many other stones that are
capable of taking a high polish.
Faux marble or faux marbling is a wall painting technique that imitates the color patterns of real marble (not to be confused with paper marbling). Marble dust can be combined with cement or synthetic resins to make reconstituted or cultured marble.
Places named after the stone include Marble Hill, Manhattan, New York; the Sea of Marmara; India's Marble Rocks; and the towns of Marble, Minnesota; Marble, Colorado; and Marble Arch, London. The marbles.html">Elgin Marbles are marble sculptures from the Parthenon that are on display in the British Museum. They were brought to Britain by the Earl of Elgin.
Kinds of marble
Natural patterns on the polished surface of "landscape marble" can resemble a city skyline or even trees.
Blocks of cut marble at the historic mill in Marble, Colorado
Some historically important kinds of marble, named after the locations of their quarries, include:
Paros from Greece
Penteli from Greece
Carrara from Italy
Proconnesus from Turkey
Macael from Spain
Makrana from India
Danby from Vermont
Yule from Colorado
White marbles, like Carrara, have been prized for sculpture since classical times. This preference has to do with the softness and relative isotropy and homogeneity, and a relative resistance to shattering. Also, the low index of refraction of calcite allows light to penetrate several millimeters into the stone before being scattered out, resulting in the characteristic "waxy" look which gives "life" to marble sculptures of the human body.
In the construction trade, the term "marble" is used for any massive, crystalline calcitic rock (and some non-calcitic rocks) useful as building stone. For example, Tennessee Marble is really a massive, highly fossiliferous gray to pink to maroon Ordovician dolostone, known as the Holston Formation by geologists.
Industrial use of marble
Colorless marbles are a very pure source of calcium carbonate, which is used in a wide variety of industries. Finely ground marble powder is a component in paints, toothpaste, plastics, and used in many other trades. The corporation OMYA, with quarries throughout the world, extracts and processes much of the marble used for these purposes.
The word "marble" derives from the Greek marmaros, "shining stone" (OED). This stem is also the basis for the English word "marmoreal" meaning "marble-like".
As the favorite medium for Greek and Roman sculptors and architects, marble has become a cultural symbol of tradition and refined taste. Its extremely varied and colorful patterns make it a favorite decorative material, and are often imitated — e.g. in background patterns for computer displays.
In folklore, marble is associated with the astrological sign of Gemini. Pure white marble is an emblem of purity. It is also an emblem of immortality, and an ensurer of success in education.