Amber is a transparent to translucent stone of the natural origin (vegetable, more specifically) as well as the Pearl. A substance, known as a resin, is the main constituent of the structure of this gem. Amber is the softest among all of the gemstones, and it is usually met of yellow, reddish, brownish and whitish tints.
Amber is known under the several names. The Greeks, for instance, called it “Electron,” due to its feature to attract small subjects, whereas the ancient Germans called it “Lapis Ardens,” while this word was of the Roman origin. Nonetheless, the modern term “electricity” came into our life, thanks to Amber and its physical properties, that have been observed first exactly in regards to this stone. Amber has been also called the “Sea Stone.”
Such a substance as an Amber was well known and well prized to prehistoric men. Amber was first discovered on the banks of the Baltic Sea. The Phoenicians headed to the Baltic Sea exactly to obtain the Amber. It was found in Egyptian tombs as well as among the relics of the Aztecs, who used it probably for incense, however, it is known, that the Amber was delivered to Mexico from Sicily, that proves its Middle East route, nonetheless, most likely, it came to the Middle East from Asia, according to the ancient sources.
Amber was an article of commerce many centuries ago. Being a subject of commerce, the Amber was the cause of many interventions and invasions. Thus, the hike of the Romans to the Gauls was caused by the presence of the tin and Amber in this region. Pliny mentioned, for instance, that the Amber was so valuable in his time, that the miniature of the man, made of Amber, cost more expensive than the man himself.
Origin and the methods of procuring
Since prehistoric time, inhabitants of the shores of the Baltic Sea have earned a living by gathering the specimens of Amber, that have been cast upon the shore. By the way, exactly this amber is the most valuable even in our time, due to the similarity of the specimens, in contrast to Amber, obtained at the mines.
The specimens of Amber, obtained in this manner, called “scoopstone,” due to the fact, that it has often been found tangled in seaweed. Whereas, the people, searched for Amber in the marshy regions were called amber riders, because, due to danger of drowning, they were hunting for Amber on horseback.
The methods, described above, have been used to obtain Amber until 1860. Later, it became obvious, that such kind of Amber as the so-called “Sea Amber” could be obtained from the beneath layers, using the mining method. Obviously, that this method provided the results, and is used until present day.
Thus, during the digging of the mines of Sammland, a peninsula in Germany, it has been discovered, that so-called “Blue Earth,” where the Amber deposits are located, is situated under the two layers, representing a bed of sand and a stratum of green sand, respectively.
This discovery has confirmed, that an Amber, located in this layer was a natural product, a resin of the pines (more accurately), which grew there in Tertiary age. However, the main proofs of the vegetable origin of Amber were the insects and their parts, found in the pieces of Amber.
The most valuable uncommon Amber come from Sicily. The specimens of the Sicilian Amber represent a variety of colors, including chrysolite-green and blood-red. The Sicilian specimens possess fluorescence, and, thus able to shine with different colors. Sicilian Amber as well as the Baltic Amber occurs on the sea shore chiefly on the eastern and southeastern coasts of the island.
Being an ancient stone, the Amber was endowed by many supernatural properties, including magical, medicinal and sacral virtues. It has been used as a mascot, able to attract a luck, as well as to protect its wearer against the enemies and the evil eye. It is considered that the Amber is a good remedy against the sore throat, therefore it was worn as a necklace. Amber also was used as a remedy against asthma, dropsy and toothache.
For instance, there is a record in the ancient source, that the Shah of Persia wears a huge cube made of amber around his neck, which, as believed, could make it invulnerable. It is supposed, that this gemstone fell from the sky.