What Was Soapstone Used for in Ancient Times?

Soapstone is a soft rock that has been used by humans for thousands of years. It is also known as steatite, and it is composed mostly of talc.

Soapstone has been valued throughout history for its durability, heat resistance, and ability to retain heat. In this article, we will explore what soapstone was used for in ancient times.

Carving Statues and Artifacts

One of the earliest uses of soapstone was for carving statues and artifacts. Soapstone was popular among ancient cultures because it was easy to carve and could be shaped into intricate designs. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all used soapstone to create beautiful sculptures.

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

The ancient Egyptians used soapstone to create a variety of artifacts such as vases, figurines, and amulets. They believed that the stone had magical properties and could provide protection from evil spirits. One of the most famous examples of soapstone carving from ancient Egypt is the bust of Nefertiti.

Ancient Greek Sculptures

The ancient Greeks also used soapstone for sculpture. The stone was particularly popular during the Hellenistic period when artists created intricate sculptures such as the Venus de Milo. The Greeks also used soapstone to make bowls and other household items.


Soapstone has excellent heat retention properties which make it an ideal material for cookware. Ancient cultures such as the Inuit people in North America have been using soapstone pots for cooking for centuries.

Inuit Cooking Pots

Inuit people in Canada have been using soapstone pots called qulliqs since prehistoric times. The pots were heated with seal oil lamps and could be used to cook food or melt snow for drinking water.

Building Materials

Soapstone has also been used as a building material for thousands of years. Its durability and resistance to heat make it ideal for structures that require insulation. Ancient cultures such as the Inca in South America used soapstone for building temples and other structures.

Inca Temples

The Inca people in South America used soapstone to build their temples and other important structures. The stone was cut into blocks and fit together without mortar, creating incredibly durable buildings that have withstood centuries of earthquakes.


Soapstone has been an important material throughout human history. It has been used for carving statues and artifacts, cookware, and building materials.

Its durability, heat resistance, and ability to retain heat make it an ideal material for a variety of applications. Today, soapstone is still valued for its unique properties and is used in a variety of modern applications such as countertops and fireplaces.