The name means “spotted or speckled stone”, and is derived via Old French jaspre (variant of Anglo-Norman jaspe) and Latin iaspidem (nom. iaspis)) from Greek ἴασπις iaspis, (feminine noun) from a Semitic language (cf. Hebrew יושפה yushphah, Akkadian yashupu), ultimately from Persian یشپ yašp.
Green jasper was used to make bow drills in Mehrgarh between 4th and 5th millennium BC. Jasper is known to have been a favorite gem in the ancient world; its name can be traced back in Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Assyrian, Greek and Latin. On Minoan Crete, jasper was carved to produce seals circa 1800 BC, as evidenced by archaeological recoveries at the palace of Knossos.
Although the term jasper is now restricted to opaque quartz, the ancient iaspis was a stone of considerable translucency. The jasper of antiquity was in many cases distinctly green, for it is often compared with the emerald and other green objects. Jasper is referred to in the Niebelungenlied as being clear and green. Probably the jasper of the ancients included stones which would now be classed as chalcedony, and the emerald-like jasper may have been akin to the modern chrysoprase. The Hebrew word yushphah may have designated a green jasper Flinders Petrie suggested that the odem, the first stone on the High Priest’s breastplate, was a red jasper, whilst tarshish, the tenth stone, may have been a yellow jasper.