Calcite (CaCO3) is the most common form of calcium carbonate and is known for its great variety and beautiful development of its crystals. Its crystals occur most often as scalenohedra and may often cleave into rhombohedra. Calcite demonstrates an optical phenomenon known as double refraction. Light passing through the crystal is split into two components, yielding two images of any object viewed through it. Calcite is so widespread that crystallized specimens are found in nearly every country.
An ancient source of calcite was Hattsub, Egypt, where calcite was quarried to make such things as buildings, vases, and inlaid eyes in statues. Some of the objects in Tutankhamun's tomb were probably carved from this source, referred to by the Egyptians as alabaster.
Calcite gets its name from the Greek chalx, meaning "lime."
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