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Amber in history

Replica from the original amber room

The Greeks and Romans already understood what amber was and how it occurred. The Greek philosopher Aristotle described amber as: ‘succinum’ or ‘juice stone’. In the Middle Ages this information was lost. By then they had some more special ideas about amber. For example: Amber was solid petroleum from the sea or even solid foam from whales. It took until 1757 that the Russian scholar Lomonossow rediscovered that amber is fossilised resin.

The amber Road

Whether one understood what it was or not, Amber has always been a popular item. Already in the 16th century BC they transported amber from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the south. They found proof for this in the bust of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun (1332-1323 BC). His tomb was decorated with large pieces of amber. In the centuries that followed, the demand for amber came mainly from the rich Mediterranean area. The trade routes ran from Northern Europe to the south. They became known as the amber roads. The routes changed continuously. The traders always looked for the safest routes with the best accommodation. Some however chose for the more difficult path trhough Switzerland where even Alpine routes known. It is not surprisingly that they called Amber ‘the gold of the North’ at this time. All the more reason to choose safety over speed. Have a look at our Baltic gold in the webshop

The Amber Room

The Russian amber room is one of the most imaginative works of art ever made with amber. This room was located in the Catharina Palace near St. Petersburg. The walls in this room were completely and very skilfully made of amber panels. An unknown witness wrote that the amber hall seemed to come to life when it was illuminated by the sun or candles. They completed the Amber hall in 1760. The room existed there for almost 200 years. In 1941, however, the German occupier dismantled and lost it. The last written mention of the room is from 12 January 1945. By then they stored the panels in boxes in Koningsbergen (now known as Kaliningrad). Since then, there has been no trace of it. After the recapture of Koningsbergen in April 1945 they searched for the amber room, but so far unsuccessfully. On May the 31st 2003 the Russians completed a replica of the amber room in the Catharina Palace. Now the Amber room is once again open to visitors.

Do you want to learn more about amber? Have a look at our Amber facts.


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