Baltic Amber History & Facts

Mining and processing of Baltic amber 

The gathering of Baltic amber has its own history. The oldest method is considered to be “scoop”, when pieces of amber were caught with nets from boats, this method was replaced with a form of dredging where the amber deposits were scraped of the sea bed with a large hook,

In the 16th century people learned how to collect amber from the shore and small pits which were situated on the shoreline. In the middle of the 19th century gathering of the industrial amber in the pits was started in the region of Palmnicken town (currently Jantarnij) in the Kaliningrad area.

Baltic Amber Teething Necklace nugget

The cache of amber was found in 1876: 45kg of stone lay under a huge boulder. However, in 1922, because of difficulties, the underground banks were removed from operation. They were replaced by the open collection in sand pits, which was started in 1912 in the northern part of Palmnicken town. Apparently the work in the sand pits was successful with the discovery of 3 large depositories of Amber.

One of the large Amber finds was in the region of Pillau town (now Baltiysk). Amber extracted from the ground is known in its raw state as “blue ground” which comes from the Earth's paleogene stratum which dates to 60 million years ago.

Modern mining methods of amber extraction on the sea bed disgard the "pulp" a softer grade of amber which has a high water content.  After the dredging of the "blue ground" amber and washing processes the pure amber is finally ready for crafting giving us the beautiful products we see today.

Amber Beads in London

Baltic Amber Necklace Museum
Amber Bead Necklace - Early Saxon (Late 6th Century A.D.). 

These 19 individually polished, red amber beads were excavated from one of the earliest graves belonging to a Saxon Londoner, on the site of the London Transport Museum in 2003. This object was one of several grave goods accompanying a somewhat enigmatic burial.

The amber beads have been highlighted from this assemblage because, of all the grave goods, they are the most ‘exotic’, having been sourced and traded from the Baltic. Amber was especially popular in the C5th and C6th and favoured in the Anglian and Saxon regions of England. Despite this popularity, this specific jewellery type is the first excavated from the London region, making it unique.

The unusual Amber beads from this burial are only one piece of a puzzle that epitomizes how archaeology often asks more questions of its material than it can ever answer. 
More information can be found herewww.mymuseumoflondon.org.uk

 

Rare Bronze Age Necklace is found 2008Rare Bronze Age necklace is found

A rare amber necklace believed to be about 4,000 years old has been uncovered in Greater   Manchester. Archaeologists made the find while excavating a cist - a type of stone-lined grave - in Mellor, Stockport. The necklace was intact and extremely rare, experts say.

It is the first time a necklace of this kind from the early Bronze Age has been found in north-west England. Experts from the University of Manchester Archaeological Unit said an amber necklace was one of the ultimate status symbols of the period.

The necklace consists of dozens of pierced amber beads of various sizes, linked together on a length of fibre. It was discovered in the cist by experts from the university and local Mellor Archaeological Trust, who said the mystery was now how the material got to the north west.

"Amber is very significant," said Vicky Nash, of the Mellor Archaeological Trust, who found the ancient item. "It's associated with burials in the prehistoric period but it's not readily available, the nearest source is in the Baltic [region]. "So to find that [necklace] in conjunction with a cist, it shows it was a burial of somebody particularly important at that time." 
From the BBC News website Link