Mammoth tusk

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Long, spiraly, curved tusks obtained from mammoths. Mammoth tusks have been abundantly found in Siberia, Russia and Alaska where they are readily collected from melted ice and glaciers. Also called fossil ivory, they have long been imported to Europe, China and Japan. The rootless, non-enameled incisors are as long as 12 feet (4 m) and can weigh up to 160 pounds (100 kg). Once cut, mammoth ivory is similar in appearance to elephant ivory, but tends to be more yellow with an opaque finish. Buried mammoth tusks are sometimes stained from minerals which produce the common uneven, brown color in Siberian ivory and the rare turquoise blue color in Alaskan ivory. Like elephant tusks, mammoth tusks are primarily composed of Dentin, a hard calcareous material composed of Calcium hydroxyapatite with small amounts of Calcium carbonate, Calcium fluoride, and Magnesium phosphate. A new layer of dentin was added each season producing a layered ring structure. Deteriorated ivory tends to flake and peel along these lines. Mammoth ivory is not included in the worldwide ban of elephant ivory.

Synonyms and Related Terms

fossil ivory; mammoth ivory

Physical and Chemical Properties

UV autofluorescence is white to yellow.

Resources and Citations

  • F.Minney, "Ivory" The Dictionary of Art, Grove's Dictionaries Inc., New York, 1996.
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Benjamin Burack, Ivory and Its Uses, Charles E. Tuttle and Co., Vermont, 1984