Amber

People have been fascinated by searching for amber and mining amber in Poland, since the beginning of history. Primeval amber mines and various finds are located in the eastern part of the Środkowopolska Lowland, Podlaskobiałoruska Upland, the western and eastern parts of Pomeranian Lake District and Southern Baltic Shoreland. It is the area located between the delta of Eocene rivers, running from the forests growing on the land in the Palaeogene period (Sałaciński, Łazowski 2008).

Baltic Amber, the fossilized remains of tree resin, was precious since Neolithic peoples, who gathered it from the shores of the Baltic Sea at least 13 000 years ago. It has been reported that plants had been making amber for at least 320 million years (Grimaldi, 2009). Baltic amber comes from pine called Pinus succinifera. It has wide distribution from northern Europe to the Urals. Nowadays, Baltic amber is found in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Russia and occasionally washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea to Denmark, Norway and England (Singer, 2008) or retransported by glaciares to Ukraine and further. About 90% of the world's extractable amber is still located in the Kaliningrad Oblast (Sambia), Russia. There is the biggest open pit mine of amber. Much valued from antiquity to the present as a gemstone, amber is made into variety of decorative objects (Lurie, Mappen, 2004). Amber is a wholly-organic material. Although not mineralized, it is often classifies as a gemstone of organic origin (Singer, 2008).

In spite of investigations carried out for more than 160 years, the mystery of Baltic amber’s parent plant remains unsolved. Many species of trees were suggested as the parent tree, chiefly belonging to two conifer families: the Pinaceae and the Araucariaceae. The traditional name for the parent plant of the Baltic amber resin was coined as early as in the mid-19th century as Pinus succinifera or the amber pine (GÖPPERT, 1836; CONWENTZ). However, the actual systematic affiliation of this taxon remains uncertain. The serious contenders for the title of Baltic amber resin’s parent plant also included the golden larch Pseudolarix (GORDON) from the same family Pinaceae.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People have believed in the magical power of amber from time immemorial. This belief has survived until today – at present amber is applied in treating rheumatic and thyroid ailments, in the cosmetics industry and in other fields as well.
Baltic amber (succinite) is a fossil resin which formed under natural conditions 45 million years ago. In spite of the many processes, which the resin went through to transform into amber, it remains in the fossil stage, i.e. is subject to oxidising and polimerisation. Since this process is ongoing, amber keeps changing so we can assume that it is a “living” stone, friendly to humans. Our forebears were interested in amber and used it for their purposes as early as in the 13 th millennium BCE. It is from that period that what we now consider to be the earliest simple drawings of predators and wild horses made in amber originate; the artefacts were found in Meindorf, Germany and Siedlnica, Poland.
One of the properties of Baltic amber is the abundance of its varieties, with the enormous diversity of the amber’s degree of transparency and colour: from light yellow through various tints of yellow to white, bluish, greenish, beige and brown. This abundance of amber colours makes it a sought-after and valuable material in folk art and jewellery.
Baltic amber deposits of industrial significance are found only in Russia, Poland, the Ukraine and in Germany. Therefore, names such as Baltic amber, Ukrainian amber and Saxon (or Bitterfeld) amber refer to the same variety of amber; they can be considered synonyms of the name succinite. The deposits of this amber belong to the secondary deposits of sedimentary origin, which means that before they were ultimately deposited they were transported over longer or shorter distances.
The amber nuggets extracted in the mines of Sambia or found on the Baltic beaches are the fossilised resin of coniferous trees with its species yet to be determined conclusively. In the 19 th century, this species was denoted collectively as amber-bearing pine, Pinus succinifera , which was confirmed by Kurt Schubert in 1961. These pines grew over 45 million years ago (in the Eocene) in the mixed forests of the continent called Fennoscandia.