The oldest and largest Opal deposits in Europe from Roman times to date was in Slovakia. Many do not know Slovakian Opal as they are better known as “Hungarian Opals”. This was when Slovakia was part of the Hungarian Empire. The Opals tend to be white with orange blue flashes.
They were the most common type of Opal until Opal mining began in Australia. The most famous stone was called the ‘Trojan Fire’ which Napoleon gave to his Empress Josephine. It had a brilliant broad flash red fire across its entire face and was the first Opal known to have been given a name.
The most famous mine was the Dubnik opal mine which you can now scuba dive in (see picture below)The main cave is not underwater only parts with the maximum depth being 67 meters depending on the water level.
There is very little information on Opal from the height of the Roman empire but evidence has shown that the Romans were aware of Opal. It is likely that all trading in Opal which originated from Slovakia given that it just outside of the Roman empire at the peak of its power.
The peak in Slovakian Opal extraction occurred in the period from 1845 - 1880, when the Goldschmidt family took over the running of the mines. The mines eventually closed down after the discovery of Australian Opals.
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