A glimpse into the past: Amber in history06/27/2020
A glimpse into the past: Amber in history
From the moment of its discovery, amber has stolen the human hearts and became an integral part of our lives. Throughout history, people have gathered and used amber for many different reasons.
It all started thousands of years ago when people first stumbled upon little golden pebbles on beaches and in coastal forests. The stone shone brightly in the sunlight and when cast into the fire, it exuded an aromatic resinous smell. What is more, some of the stones hid insects and plants inside of them!
Mysterious and inexplicable properties of amber, especially the power of magnetic force, must have caused fear and admiration of the primitive man. No wonder that such an unusual stone began to be attributed with magical properties.
The Stone Age amber pendants preserved to this day are said to be amulets used in hunting magic by prehistoric inhabitants of the Baltic region. It was probably believed that amber pendants or figurines would ensure successful hunting. Additionally, during the Neolithic period, amber had been stored under houses, to protect their inhabitants against any misfortune.
From at least the 16th century BC, amber has played an important role in trade. As a luxury item found only in a few widely dispersed locations, amber was one of the few products considered worthy of transporting long and treacherous distances. The tradesmen travelled along the so-called “amber roads”, which lead to the Mediterranean area, as well as the Middle and the Far East.
Thanks to these routes, amber spread all over the world – countless amber artefacts have been found e.g. in Mycenae shaft graves in Greece, Egypt (Tutankhamen’s tomb), Syria and even Brighton (UK).
In the 1st century AD, Rome has become the undisputed centre of the amber industry. Pliny the Elder wrote that the price of a small piece of amber was worth more than a healthy slave. Roman women, instead of wearing amber as a piece of jewellery, rubbed it in their hands believing that frequent contact with this precious gem would be beneficial for their youthful looks.
The gem was also used by the ancient Greeks to promote good health. Whereas in China, it was customary to burn amber during large festivities. It was meant to show the hosts’ wealth and their respect for their guests.
In our previous post, we have already discussed the healing properties of amber and the appreciation it has gained. However, it is worth adding that during the Middle Ages, when the Plague swept across Europe killing millions of people, Amber was used as a fumigant to prevent the spread of the disease. It has been observed that men fumigating with the substance remained intact by the disease.
When in 1200 AD the Teutonic Knights returned from the Crusades, they became absolute rulers of Prussia and, more importantly, the Baltic sources of amber. Anyone caught with a piece of amber that was not part of a rosary was subject to severe punishment and, often, hanging.
The year 1701 brought us the famous Amber Room, a present from Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I to Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. This was a complete room of panels that were outfitted with amber mosaics and other ornate gold detailing.
In the 19th century Russians were known to smoke tobacco through pipes made with amber mouthpieces.
Above all, however, amber has been, and still is today, used to create jewellery.
This precious gem is a gorgeous accessory that fits any occasion and will bring the best out of your outfit. It is also a great conversation starter! You can amaze your friends with fascinating facts about the uniqueness of amber jewellery and enjoy a little moment of admiration.
If you’re looking for a genuine amber gemstone, Amber Room is the best place for you! Head to our shop and have an unforgettable shopping experience.