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Amber trails

Considerable amounts of Baltic amber are found in the Antic territories and other far-away lands. German archaeologist Henric Schliemann (1822-1890) found amber necklace amongst other findings in North-West of Turkey, not far from the Dardanelle channel, while excavating the ruins of Troy in 1871-1890. The scientists established that this is an artifact made 3000 years ago from amber brought from the shores of the Baltic Sea. In the island of Crete, while excavating Mycenaean civilization dome graves that were made around 1600-800 B. C., H. Schliemann found Baltic amber as well. 400 amber necklaces were found in two graves only.

Amber was widely used in Greece around 1600 B.C., but especially many of it is found in archeological findings from 1200-800 B.C.

This mineral got into the Roman lifestyle sometime around 900 B. C., a lot of it is found in Italy in the delta of river Po and the Etruscan graves.

Amber wasn‘t valued only by Greeks and Romans. Philologists are surprised that in Egyptian the name for amber is „sakal“ which is very similar to the Lithuanian „sakas“ (meaning sap). An author of a popular monograph Englishman G. Williamson point out that North of Konigsberg (now Kaliningrad) there used to be an area called Sap Port (in Curonian – Saka osta).

Linguists still don‘t fully know the etymology of the word amber.

Latvian word „dzīntars“ (and the word „dzintars“ borrowed from the Curonians) together with the Lithuanian word „gintaras“ show that this word was known by Lithuanian and Latvian ancestors as early as the middle of VII century before the splitting of the languages. Because this word in the Baltic languages doesn‘t have any relatives (such as verbs), it can be guessed that it‘s borrowed from the ancient Sea costal culture‘s language – the Sarmatians. It is also thought that the name for amber was borrowed by Hungarians well (gyantar and gyanta).

The true member of the Science Academy of St. Petersburg university professor Boris Larine (1893-1964) wrote a thorough scientific article on this. In his belief, the borrowing ентаръ from the Baltic language got into the East Slavic dialects no earlier than in the X century.

When the glaciers started to retreat north, the first settlers in the current territory of Lithuania settled sometime between Paleolite and Mezolite periods. The oldest Lithuanian findings – arrow tips made from North elk horns 9000 year ago were found in Kalniškiai near Klaipėda. Amber trade with the Lithuanian of those times wasn‘t developed yet, because the Old Stone Age coincided with the glacier epoch here. The Baltic Sea and its shores were covered by glaciers and in the middle Stone Age amber didn‘t have such an important role in the lives of natives as during the Neolithic period. These conclusions are made by scientists, among them researcher of Baltic amber trade E. Shturm, who stated that in the middle Stone age amber trade with the Baltic region was still small. Though, articles from this period were found in Manejdorf near Hamburg and in Denmark.

Neolithic amber articles and material treasures are found in territories that were near Baltic amber trade routes to the Mediterranean Sea counties as well as in Baltic Sea regions. For example, 4000 amber articles were found in one march in Jutland peninsula (Denmark), 100 in Flaklopung (Sweden), and 1000 in Upton Lovely (Great Britain). Similar articles from this period are also found in Mecklenburg, Pomerania, East Prussia and Poland.

Amber was common in the North and East at that time. A big part of amber jewelery is dug up in the Stone Age camps in Latvia, Estonia, and Finland (near Lake Ilmen).

In Lithuanian Neolithic amber is found in Juodkrantė, Smiltynė, the port of Klaipėda, in Lužia forest near Priekulė, Palanga and Šventoji. Not only already made articles were found here, but also unfinished necklaces and pendants.

During Brass age the trade considerably intensified.

Baltic trade routes to Mediterranean and Black Sea countries reach into the early Brass age. The trade routes were discovered by and English scholar J.M. Navarro basing his theories on locations of archeological findings – amber, antique coins, adornments, weapons and working tools.

Most of the Brass age artifacts imported from the South concentrate in the Jutland peninsula and around roads to it. This shows that the main center of amber trade and supply in that age was not Sambian, but Jutland peninsula in the South of the Baltic Sea.

Based on the localization of the archeological findings it was established that during the old Brass age II and III periods (around 15000-950 B.C.) Sambian and Lithuanian seashore amber was transported not southward, but westward – to Denmark and Luneburg areas (lower that Hamburg). From here Aistian amber materials together with amber from Jutland was transported to Rome by the old Brass age trade route. This route went from Jutland peninsula along River Elbe to the mouth of Zale, then by Zale River and dry land through Bohemia till River Danube, then along Danube to the mouth of River Ine, then by that river to Brenner crossing to Northern Italy.

Later on, during the middle Brass age the amber trade route changed a bit. It started at Cambria peninsula, then through Elbe river downstream, Zale river till Thuringia, then through dry land till Rive Maine, through rivers Maine and Rein, then again through dry land till Ron and by this river till it reach the Mediterranean Sea until Masilia (currently Marseille).

Brass period Baltic Region dwellers traded amber not only for brass artifacts, but also for brass itself, because they knew how to process copper, tin and brass.

Brass period Baltic Region dwellers traded amber not only for brass artifacts, but also for brass itself, because they knew how to process copper, tin and brass.

During the new Brass age IV and V periods amber trade diminished and later almost stopped for unknown reasons. It was renewed only around 700 B.C.

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