Alabaster is a name applied to varieties of two distinct minerals, when used as a material: gypsum (a hydrous sulfate of calcium) and calcite, a carbonate of calcium, also known as onyx-marble, Egyptian alabaster or Oriental alabaster, in geological terms is "a stalagmitic limestone marked with patterns of swirling bands of cream and brown". In general, but not always, ancient Alabaster in Egypt and the Near & Middle East is calcite. Alabaster in medieval Europe is gypsum. Modern Alabaster is probably calcite, but may be either. Both are easy to 'work' and as both are slightly water soluble, have been used for making a variety of indoor artworks and carvings, as they will not survive long outdoors.