Is there any way to date these marble balls?

Years ago, my Dad was given a set of marble balls as a makeweight in a business deal. He was told they were 4,000 years old and from Afghanistan. He was dubious about this but he liked them and agreed to take them.

So now I’m looking at these things and am intrigued about their origin. Is it possible to date the making of them? The surfaces are polished so I’m struggling to find marks made by tools. Google doesn’t know but my search terms are probably poor.

The largest weighs about 4kg and is the size if a small melon, the next size down are about the size of billiard balls.

Does anyone know anymore about these things?

Since no one has replied, I’ll engage my meager experience here. It is really unlikely the stones were shaped 4000 years ago; and luckily enough probably, because if they really were antiquities, someone would probably be in trouble for transferring them. Most “old” stuff that you’d get from an Afghanistan seller is fake. If you get it direct from an old farmer that just found it, it is probably real, if you get it from a well known seller, it might be real or might not… but if you get it from a random merchant, it is almost certain to be fake.

I don’t know of any definitive way to date the period of “working” of a stone, unless there was organic material somehow attached to it from the process. I’d think microscopic measurement of surface characteristics might show (lack of) wear that would be expected over thousands of years. Really though, I don’t think making balls out of colorful rocks was even a thing 4000 years ago there, more of a modern idea.

They are nice rocks just for conversation pieces, I personally have a 4" polished sphere of lapis lazuli I picked up there.

Somebody might be able to analyze and date the dye.

dye ? they still mine green rock there. Its a poor example of the rare rock, so it was made into a tourists trinket. A dime a dozen…
There’s no real way to date it, but who’s making such a trinket from poor rock ? It would be a modern thing.

The colours of marble are often characteristic of a particular area - the colours come from various trace contaminants in the calcium carbonate, in various oxidations states. But this is only indicative, and can be more a way to exclude a lump as coming from a given area than to link it to one. However Afghanistan has a lot of marble, and many places it is mined, and thus has just about every possible colour mix imaginable.

The condition of the balls is good, so they are unlikely to be all that old. Marble is soft, and subject to chemical attack - especially in modern times.

A microscopic examination of the surface would probably reveal clues as to the manufacturing process, maybe telling you whether they were hand polished, machine polished or tumbled. Evidence of

But marble isn’t exactly a rare material, and it it hard to imagine that these have much dollar value. But the aesthetic value is whatever it is to you. Collectors will have different metrics than you may.

As to the age, seems that the best bet might be Upper Eocene, so maybe 56 to 33 million years old.

Thanks all. I’m not surprised they’re almost certainly modern. I find them interesting because they are so primitive in form… a rock that’s a sphere.
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No, it isn’t. maybe if they were in their original context, but otherwise, not at all.

Having said that, I very, very much doubt they’re 4000 years old. They look like modern tourist knick-knacks.

I don’t see why not. You just need a good opening line.

“Roll here often?”

Waiting for this, not disappointed.:smiley:

Have you measured their diameters? If they come out to some precise and round number of centimeters, that could be a hint that they are no older than the last adjustment of the metric system. If they don’t, they may come out to a precise round number of some precious iteration of it, and their age could be determined that way (“This one’s a hundred millimeters, but it’s the millimeter they used from 1840-1866…”). No idea who keeps those kind of records, but I’ve never had occasion to ask.

You win the thread. :smiley: