Cinnabar (German Zinnober), sometimes written cinnabarite, is a name applied to red mercury(II) sulfide (HgS), or native vermilion, the common ore of mercury. The name comes from the Greek, used by Theophrastus, and was probably applied to several distinct substances. Other sources say the word comes from the Persian zinjifrah, originally meaning "lost".
Cinnabar was mined by the Roman Empire for its mercury content and it has been the main ore of mercury throughout the centuries. Some mines used by the Romans are still being mined today. It is generally found as a vein-filling mineral associated with recent volcanic activity and alkaline hot springs.