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[1] Room temperature investigations on the shear strength, elastic moduli, elastic anisotropy, and deformation mechanisms of MgO (periclase) are performed in situ up to pressures of 47 GPa using radial X-ray diffraction and the diamond anvil cell. The calculated elastic moduli are in agreement with previous Brillouin spectroscopy studies. The uniaxial stress component in the polycrystalline MgO sample is found to increase rapidly to 8.5(+/-1) GPa at a pressure of 10(+/-1) GPa in all experiments. Under axial compression, a strong cube texture develops which was recorded in situ. It is probable that the preferred orientation of MgO is due to deformation by slip. A comparison between the experimental textures and results from polycrystal plasticity suggest that the {110} [1 (1) over bar0] is the only significantly active slip system under very high confining pressure at room temperature. These data demonstrate the feasibility of analyzing elastic moduli, shear strength, and deformation mechanisms under pressures relevant for the Earth's lower mantle. Implications for the anisotropy and rheology of the lower mantle are discussed.