Often referred to as the Royal Stone, porprhyry has a rich history.  Romans used it for temples, statuary, and paving.  It was valued for being fine-grained and durable, but most of all – beautiful.

Porphyry bust of Alexander the Great

The stone most prized by the Romans was purple in color and quarried in Egypt.  It was discovered in the year 18 A.D by Caius Cominius Leugas, a Roman Legionaire.  The history that follows is fascinating.  The Romans moved the stone through Egypt by way of a road that became known as Via Porphyrites.  To this day there are piles of porphyry littering the ancient road where Roman carts spilled their payloads because of broken axles and wheels.

Via Porphyrites map

More in-depth articles cover this remarkable history and provide a background for why the Romans revered the stone enough to move it over great distances and even stockpile it.  Empires which suceeded the Romans took the stone from storage and adorned temples and crowned Emperors upon it. The Stone Foundation, an organization devoted to stone masonry published a wonderful history of the Egyptian porphyry .  The direct link to the article can be found here: Via Porphyrites .  It covers a suprising history of the stone: from discovery, to export, to recycling.

Porphyry arch in Egypt

Porphyry adorns temples in columns and wall carvings but also paves streets.  The stone is so beautiful and durable that it lasts hundreds, and even thousands of years.  It is quarried throughout the world to this day and put to modern use – mainly as paving.  It is quarried in Northern Italy near Trento, in Patagonia – South America, and in Mexico near San Luis de La Paz.

Patagonia Storm Gray and Copper Mountain Porphyry in Washington Park 2011

Milestone Imports Patagonia Storm Gray and Copper Mountain porphyry – installation in process

Porphyry paving from Patagonia and San Luis de La Paz is available from Milestone Imports.  In its modern form, it possesses the qualities of smoothness and slip resistance that meet or exceed ADA standards.  It is durable and lasts longer than any other paving surface.  It adds a design element that cannot be achieved with other materials.  It is easy to see why the Romans valued this stone so highly -it’s beautiful.