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Ch. 14: Mexico and Central America

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found the variety known as hydrophane. In this form the opal is generally white or dull yellow in color, but when it is wet, it becomes transparent, often brilliant in color. This variety often absorbs almost an equal bulk of water before it is fully saturated. It has no value as a gem, although often an object of very great beauty.
A beautiful variety of opal agate is found in the State of Ja­lisco. Pink, yellow, and green, especially the softer shades, occur and are blended and veined in the most pleasing manner. It exists in considerable quantity, and is valued as a decorative stone for metal work or jewelry.
Obsidian is abundant on the hill of the Navajas in Pachuca, in Tulancingo, in Ucareo, State of Michoacan, in Penjamo, and on the landed property of Pateo, belonging to the same State. In Magdalena village, in the State of Jalisco, in Cardereita Men-dez, in the State of Queretaro, and in many other parts of Mex­ico it is found in a variety of colors, such as golden, silvery, black, bluish, greenish, or reddish. The included crystals which the obsidian contains often give this mineral a double color, the one black, the other chatoyant, either yellow, greenish-gray, or white, and always at right angles to the black. This stone holds an important place in the archaeology of Mexico. Obsidian was most extensively used in Mexico, before the empire of the Aztecs succumbed to the Spanish invaders. The old obsidian mines are still to be seen on the Cerro de Navajas, or " Hill of Knives," which is situated in a northeasterly direction from the City of Mexico, at some distance from the Indian town Atotonilco el Grande. These mines provided the ancient population of Mex­ico with vast quantities of the much-prized stone, of which they made double-edged knives, arrows, and spear-heads, mirrors, skil­fully executed masks, and ornaments of various kinds. Hum­boldt speaks of the Hill of Knives.1 For a precise description we are indebted to Edward B. Tylor," who visited that interesting locality in 1856, while traveling through Mexico in company with Mr. Christy. Besides many facts relating to the archae­ology and ethnology of Mexico, this writer furnishes the best ob-
Essai politique sur la Nouvelle-Espagne, Vol. 3, p. 122.
Anahuac: or, Mexico and the Mexicans, Ancient and Modern (London, 1861).
Ch. 14: Mexico and Central America Page of 364 Ch. 14: Mexico and Central America
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