Fifty-six million years ago, the Eocene epoch began, lasting twenty-two million years. We owe to it bats, the first horse and Baltic amber. Injured trees (mostly conifers) release a resin to protect them, which drips and forms icicles. There is also a theory that intensive resinization of trees could be caused by climate change, rising temperatures and increased volcanic activity. The drops of this resin, after drying for millions of years, were subjected to grinding by nature and that is how amber was created. Sometimes the resin was poured over insects or simply pieces of bark. Such fossils are called inclusions. The most famous, although fictional, is undoubtedly amber with a sunken mosquito, which gave rise to the Jurassic Park.

Amber consists mainly of carbon, the rest is sulfur, oxygen, hydrogen, and succinic acid. An unquestionable value of amber is its color. They can be yellow, white, greenish, or colorless, but the most classic is amber of a characteristic red color. It occurs naturally as irregularly shaped lumps. The recorded largest specimen is a Baltic amber weighing 9.75 kg. It was found in 1860 near Kamień Pomorski on the Polish coast. Amber occurs all over the world, but the largest deposits are located in the Baltic region. Most of the amber in the region is found in deposits e.g. in Możdżanów (10 tons), but about 4-6 tons of Baltic amber per year is collected in the traditional way from people collecting it from the beaches. For beginners in their adventure with Baltic gold the identification of amber is a problem.

These extraordinary gifts of nature are used in medicine, food industry, but primarily in jewelry. The largest international trade fair in the world is held in Poland in Gdansk. Amber was used to make incense sticks, tinctures or beads to fight diseases of the upper respiratory tract. Specimens with inclusions are also used for research purposes.

The benefits of amber were already appreciated in antiquity. They were so popular that in the 5th century BC the amber route was established. In the first period of trade between the Roman Empire and the Baltic tribes was mediated by the Celts. In the first century AD when the Empire conquered the lands along the Danube the trade of electron (as the Romans called amber) began to flourish, and the amber route developed up to the Baltic coast. The exact course of the route remains in the realm of conjecture. It is known that most likely it started near Venice Aquilelia, ran through Moravia, the Kłodzko Basin, Silesia, Greater Poland and through Kujawy to the Baltic Sea. The trade of the amber route after its peak in the third century began to slowly die out. The last mention of a Roman expedition to the Baltic Sea comes from 525. Wrocław was certainly located on the amber route. In 1906 and 1936 in the Wrocław Partynice three pits were discovered in which 1240-1760 kg of amber from the 1st century BC was found. Thus it is the largest archaeological find of amber in the world. Unfortunately most of the treasure was destroyed during the siege of Wrocław in 1945.

Undoubtedly, the world capital of amber is Gdańsk where the International Amber Association was established and where the most eminent amber artists and craftsmen, such as one of the creators of the famous Amber Chamber, used to work.

(Translated with

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