For this week’s Find it Friday we are not only going to venture in to the collection, but also deep into the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
This is the extrusive igneous rock, Obsidian. Obsidian is formed when silica rich lava cools and solidifies at a relatively rapid rate once it hits the cool air (or water) after leaving a volcano. Minimum crystal growth results in the glassy, bottle like texture of Obsidian. It’s a weird one when it comes to its geological classification and properties; It appears to be mineral like, but is not crystalline and has a felsic composition, even though it is mafic (dark) in colour, the natural opposite of felsic.
Obsidian is the perfect form of volcanic glass, brittle but with perfect conchoidal fracture so it breaks with sharp, knife like edges. This is most likely why in the past it has been used as a material to produce tools for cutting and arrow heads.
Obsidian, or Rhyolite Glass has most recently become known to the masses as ‘Dragonglass’. Dragonglass is featured in the books by George R.R. Martin and the TV series based on them, ‘Game of Thrones’.
Dragonglass is used by the Children of the Forest, a race of non-humans that originally inhabited the continent of Westeros, to make weapons, not unlike the weapons that Obsidian was used to make in the real world; Dragonglass is used for blades, daggers and arrowheads.
Samwell Tarly is part of the Night’s Watch, a military order who tend to ‘the Wall’, a huge feature that defends the realm from the ‘Others’ and other perils that lie north of it. The Others are described as “demons made of snow and ice and cold” and are an enemy not encountered for thousands of years.
However, while on the run Sam encounters a lone Other. He uses a Dragonglass dagger that he had earlier found to stab the Other causing it to “shrink and puddle, dissolving away in twenty heartbeats. Only the dagger remains”. Dragonglass weapons are, luckily for Sam, one of the few weaknesses of the Others.
The poor, uneducated smallfolk of Westeros believe Dragonglass to be made by dragons whilst the Maesters, an order of scholars, healers, postmen, and scientists say it comes from the fires of the earth, which Obsidian, of course, does.
Just a quick “Thank you!!” to Janny for all her Game of Thrones knowledge to help put this post together. Game of Thrones is quite big here at the Curatorial Services, so if you are also a fan, or if you’re not, here is a video that will either entertain you greatly or convince you that with a mighty epic theme tune like this you need to be watching it too!