Minerals and fossils
Theme hotel: Ammonite
An ammonite is the fossilized shell of a squid by the same name. This species originated over 350 million years ago and populated all oceans, until their sudden extinction approximately 65 million years ago.
Its name was inspired by the Egyptian god Ammon (or "Amon", later called "Amon-Re") who was often pictured wearing ammonite-resembling ram’s horns. The squid occupied the last, and largest, chamber of its shell. As it outgrew the current chamber, a bigger one was built on. These different chambers are usually well distinguishable on the outside of the shell. The abandoned, empty chambers were then used to create floatability. The squid deployed its gas gland to fill the chambers with nitrogen enabling itself to move vertically: the same principle now used in submarines. Depending on species or age, ammonites can reach gigantic proportions.
The largest ammonite fossil ever found has a 2.5 meter diameter. However, large specimens are rare and considered less attractive. Ammonites have always inspired humanity. In medieval legends they are often portrayed as snakes, representing the incarnation of evil. Through the prayers of saints, the snakes were beheaded and turned into stone, thus evil was overcome. Saint Hilda of Whitby for example is often depicted with ammonite-shaped snakes at her feet. Ammonites are found worldwide.
The beautiful specimens in the hotel are from France.
Etage 1: Petrified wood
In fossilized or petrified wood, cells have been replaced by quartz crystals over the course of centuries. During this process the woods specific structure including its annual rings are completely preserved.
Petrification takes place if wood is instantly cut off from oxygen, so no rotting occurs. A volcano eruption or meteorite impact, covering trees instantly beneath a thick layer of ashes, dirt or dust provide ideal conditions for this process. Presumably, the famous Petrified Forest in Arizona, USA, (where this piece was found) was originated by the impact of a giant meteorite. The crystal structure of petrified wood sometimes becomes influenced by metaloxydes resulting in numerous colors, the reason why it is also called 'rainbow wood'.
Petrified wood is found all over the world. Besides the USA, other major locations are Indonesia and Madagascar.
Etage 2: Pyrite
The mineral pyrite is formed by iron, sulfur and water cooling down. It sometimes shapes in perfect cubic crystals. The name comes from the Greek "pyr" means "fire", due to its sparking quality when struck with a stone or metal object. However, a more familiar feature of pyrite is its resemblance to gold.
Back in the days, the sale of pyrite as gold was not quiet honest but nevertheless extremely profitable. Therefore, in English pyrite is also known as 'fool's gold'.
Pyrite is admired for its beauty and ought to enhance self-awareness and self-confidence. This mineral is found worldwide. Important locations are Spain and Italy (Elba).
Etage 3: Celestine
Celestine, a relatively heavy crystal mineral, consists of sulfur and metal strontium. This mineral occurs in cavities called "geodes" in which the crystals were able to solidify to perfection.
Celestine is famous for its beautiful sky blue color, the reason why its name is derived from the Latin "caelesti", which means "heavenly". An amazing place to admire celestine is the Crystal Cave in Ohio, USA.
This ten-meter-deep cave is completely covered with enormous celestine crystals. Sometimes celestine is put in jewelry. It is believed to enhance strength, energy and stability. This mineral is located worldwide. The most beautiful specimens, such as this one, are found in Madagascar.
Etage 4: Amethyst
Amethyst is a purple or violet colored mineral from the quartz family. The striking color occurs by the bonding of iron oxide and manganese oxide. The cavities wherein amethyst occurs and can solidify to perfection are called "geodes". The name "amethyst" derives from a Greek myth in which the beautiful, virtuous Amethysta is able to resist the wrath of the wine god Dionysus. Amethyst was therefore said (unfortunately unproven) to protect its wearer from intoxication. Amethyst can be of transcendent beauty and was considered as precious as diamonds in ancient times. It was and often still is used in jewelry, like in the scepter of the British Crown and a Papal (holy) ring.
The latter can be attributed to other believed qualities: amethyst symbolizes the link between earthly and heavenly matters and was also believed to protect against sorcery.
Amethyst is found all over the world. The most beautiful specimens are from Uruguay and, like this one, Brazil.
Etage 5: Azurite
Azurite is a mineral that is formed by the bonding of copper, oxygen and carbon.
The name derives from the Persian word "lazhward" which means "blue", subsequently translated to the Latin word "azurium". Ever since ancient times azurite is being processed to blue oil paint pigment, like the widely used, famous pigment ultramarine. Between the 15th and 17th century ultramarine was the standard for the color blue in oil paintings. Famous painters like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Michelangelo were known for their use of the pigment.
Mineral collectors highly appreciate azurite for its divers blue hues and fascinating crystal shapes. Enhancement of focus and bravery are believed qualities of this mineral. Azurite is found all over the world. Besides the Congo, where this piece originates from, the USA, Morocco and France are major sites.
Etage 6: Malachite
The mineral malachite derives from the bonding of copper, oxygen and carbon. The name probably originates from the Greek "malach" which means "deep green". Because of its beauty this gemstone is used in jewelry, ever since ancient times.
The oldest found malachite jewel is over 10,000 years old. Even the current FIFA world cup trophy contains two characteristic rings, made of malachite. It was also used as an ingredient for green oil paint pigments.
Back in the day, it was known for its protecting qualities: in contact with certain poisons malachite discolors.
Malachite is believed to enhance inner wisdom and improve logical thinking.
This gem is found worldwide. Major sites are mostly situated in Africa, like the Congo, where this piece was found.
Etage 7: Meteorite
Meteorites are pieces of space rubble, consisting of rock and/or iron, broken off planets and moons. They vary from small grains to large pieces exceeding 60,000 kg. Throughout the complete universe space rubble is present. In our solar system the most rubble occurs between the planets of Mars and Jupiter.
In most cases our atmosphere protects us from impact; due to their high speed and/or low mass, most of the meteorites burn up before entering our sky. We perceive those as falling stars. Meteorites that do succeed entering our sky can cause serious damage. Such as the meteorite which is believed to have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. Even in the Netherlands a meteorite strikes occasionally. As it did in 2017, a “stone's throw” away from this hotel. Fortunately, this one yielded less dramatic consequences; the impact only destroyed an attic roof. Meteorites are found worldwide. These examples were part of the famous iron meteorite that hit the earth in Sikhote-Alin, Russia, in 1947.
Its estimated age equals the earth's: approximately 4.6 billion years.
Etage 8: Agate
Agate exists of a variety of quartz. It is formed by solidification of liquids and is relatively hard. Beautifully articulated and often multi-colored, it is mostly blue, green or (like this piece) ocher yellow and black. Agate probably was named after its first documented discovery site, the river Achates (nowadays known as Dirillo) on Sicily. It has been processed for over 8,000 years and used in decoration and jewelry.
Not too long ago different African tribes used agate beads as currency. Elsewhere, wearing agate was believed to bring prosperity and health or simply good weather.
It was also thought to improve one’s sleep cycle and enhance spiritual growth.
Agate is found all over the world, the largest site being Brazil. Other interesting locations are Argentina, Morocco and Madagascar, where this piece originates from.
Etage 9: Fossil
Fossils are petrified plants or animals that vary in shape and size, ranging from single-celled organisms to dinosaurs and from leaves to whole tree trunks. The petrifying ("fossilization") process consists of a sudden cut-off from oxygen followed by the increasing pressure of layers of soil and ice piling up.
Fossils can be very old (>3.5 billion years) or relatively young (<10,000 years). Oil, gas and coal are so-called "fossil fuels" originating from animal and vegetable fossils. Fossils can be found all over the world.
This particular specimen is a mammoth tusk. It was obtained from the North Sea, which was dry land until approximately 10,000 years ago.
Etage 10: Rock crystal
Rock crystal is a quartz mineral, consisting of silicon and oxygen. The hexagonal crystal shape that tapers to a point is very characteristic. The colors of rock crystal vary from milky white to completely transparent. In ancient time, its shape and transparency caused people to believe that rock crystal was eternally frozen water. Because of this, its name was derived from the Greek "krystallos" (or "krustallos"), which means "ice". An unique feature of quartz is its piezoelectric effect: the ability to vibrate under current. This vibration is so consistent that quartz has become an essential component in timepieces and computers.
Rock crystal often was and still is used as a religious and ornamental element. It is supposed to reinforce purity, harmony, love and willpower.
In addition, it is used to provide insight; with a bit of luck even into the future, using a crystal ball!
Rock crystal is found everywhere in the world. Major sites are Brazil, Russia and Switzerland.