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Amber on Granite.jpg
Baltic amber - rough stones as found
General and classification
other names
  • Succinite
  • Electrum, also known colloquially as "Baltic amber"
  • electron
chemical formula Approximate molecular formula: C 10 H 16 O + (H 2 S)
Mineral class
(and possibly department)
Organic compounds - various organic minerals
System no. to Strunz
and to Dana
10.C ( 8th edition : IX / C.01)
Similar minerals none
Crystallographic Data
Crystal system amorphous
Physical Properties
Mohs hardness 2 to 2.5
Density (g / cm 3 ) 1.05 to 1.096
Cleavage none
Break ; Tenacity shell-like, brittle
colour honey-yellow , yellow-white, orange, red, greenish, brown, black, rarely pale
Line color White
transparency transparent, translucent, opaque
shine Greasy gloss, matt
Crystal optics
Refractive index n  = 1.540 (−0.001 to +0.005)
Birefringence none
Other properties
Chemical behavior reacts with oxygen, weakly concentrated acids and alkalis as well as with oils, resistant to ether , acetone and sulfuric acid
Special features Flammable, high electrical resistance (10 18 Ωmm 2 / m), charges electrostatically when there is friction

Amber refers to a clear to opaque yellow gemstone made of fossil resin that has been known for thousands of years and is widespread, especially in the Baltic Sea region .

This mainly means only a certain fossil resin, this amber in the narrower sense is the type of amber with the scientific name succinite . The terms succinite and Baltic amber are often used synonymously, as succinite makes up the vast majority of Baltic amber. The other fossil resins in Baltic amber come from different plant species and are also referred to as "amber in the broader sense". Some occur together with succinite, e.g. B. the amber types Gedanit , Glessit , Beckerit and Stantienit , which have long been known from the Baltic deposits . These are also known as accessory resins. Other fossil resins of different botanical origin, however, form independent deposits of different geological ages, such as B. Dominican amber and Lebanon amber . Of the large group of copals , only the fossil, dug out of the earth representatives (e.g. the "Madagascar copal") according to the definition (see section amber types) belong to the amber despite their geologically young age.

This article deals with the subject of amber in general and, because of its outstanding scientific, cultural and economic importance, the most common Baltic amber, succinite, in particular.

The oldest known amber comes from hard coal, which is around 310 million years old . The resin of the trees of that time has been preserved as a solid, amorphous (non-crystalline) substance since the Paleozoic .

The International Mineralogical Association (IMA) does not recognize amber as an independent type of mineral due to its not clearly definable composition . However, in the systematics of minerals within the class of organic compounds, it forms its own mineral group , which in the 9th edition of the systematics according to Strunz under the system no. 10.C (various organic minerals) can be found ( 8th edition : IX / C.01)

Amber has been used as jewelry and art objects since prehistoric times . Some objects found in Egypt are e.g. B. more than 6000 years old. The most famous art object made of amber was the Amber Room , which has been missing since World War II . Between 1979 and 2003, Russian specialists in the Catherine Palace near Pushkin reconstructed the amber room, which was again accessible to the public, with amber from Jantarny , after previously unknown photographs had been found that made this unique project possible.

For science, especially for paleontology , amber with inclusions, the so-called inclusions, is of interest. These inclusions are fossils of small animals or parts of plants, the imprints of which, in rare cases also remains of tissue, have been perfectly preserved in amber for millions of years.


The German name Bernstein (in Prussia also known as Börnstein ) is an early New High German borrowing from Middle Low German  bern (e) stone (from berne “burn”) and can be traced back to the noticeable flammability of this “(precious) stone”. Other names historically used in German-speaking countries are agstein, agtstein, agetstein, agatstein, augstein, ougstein, brennstein, cacabre, carabe, karabe, glaere, lynkurer, gismelzi and amber .

The ancient Greek word for amber is ḗlektron ( ἤλεκτρον ), which can be translated as "light gold". The root of the word ḗlektron comes from the Indo-European original language and has the actual meaning "bright, shiny, radiant". In elegant antique households, a large amber was used as a clothes brush; by sliding on the fabric, it became electrostatically charged and then pulled the dust particles to itself. The phenomenon of static electricity when amber is rubbed with certain materials was already known to Thales of Miletus . Thus the Greek word for amber could become the modern namesake of the elementary particle electron and electricity . This simple electrostatic charge of amber was also used for early experiments on electricity.

In ancient Greece, amber was also known as lyncirium ("lynx stone"), possibly because it was believed to have originated from the urine of the lynx , which had become hard when exposed to strong sunlight. However, the literature also takes the view that this name is simply a corruption of the word ligurium , which was used to describe amber in ancient times and to express that it was a Ligurian product. It was considered likely that the Phoenicians trading in amber received their goods from the Ligurians , who settled for a long time at the southern end point ( Rhone Delta ) of one of the ancient amber roads during the first millennium BC .

The Romans referred to amber with the Greek foreign word electrum or called it succinum (probably after succus "thick liquid, sap") in the correct assumption that it was made from tree sap. Other ( Middle Latin ) names are lapis ardens ("burning stone") and ligurius .

The Germanic name of amber was based on Tacitus glesum , from which the word glass has its origin.

In Arabic , amber is called anbar ; this is where the current term for amber in some languages ​​is derived (e.g. English amber , French ambre jaune , Spanish el ámbar , Italian ambra ).

Types and varieties of amber, natural forms and varieties

General definitions

Raw amber with a weathering crust

In the recent plant world, particularly common in the tropics and subtropics , hundreds of plant species are known to secrete resin. The resin has been preserved in fossil form from some species, some of which are now extinct. In scientific parlance, the name amber has long been used as a collective term for all fossil resins that form solid particles. The term amber has become established for the fossil resin that comes from a certain type of plant. Although amber is not a mineral, the final syllable -it is used for the amber types, following the common naming of the minerals . The most common Baltic type of amber, amber in the narrower sense, has been known as succinite since 1820 . The connection with names of regions or places is also common, e.g. B. "Baltic amber", " Dominican amber ", " Bitterfeld amber ". Originally, this was only used to denote general sites of amber or groups of amber species.

In the Baltic amber deposits, other types of amber are very rare, so that the name amber is used colloquially for the dominant type of amber, succinite. In the past, the term “German amber” was also used. The frequently used term "Baltic amber" for succinite is scientifically not tenable because of the numerous finds in Central Germany that became known some time ago and should not be used to avoid errors. Because even in the world's second largest amber deposit, Bitterfeld , succinite is the most common type of amber, and the resulting name “Baltic amber from Bitterfeld” would lead to misunderstandings. For the amber type succinite, the name amber (succinite) is best suited to link the colloquial with the scientific name . Since other types of amber also occur in both deposits, the designation “Baltic amber” would have to be limited to its regional origin. Similarly, “Ukrainian amber” (also known as “ Rovno amber ”) is a collective of amber types, and this term should only be used to identify regional occurrences.

The types of amber are like the minerals by their color, transparency and other features varieties distinguished. They are essentially identical and come from the same producer plant.

According to the external appearance, natural forms can be distinguished: their shape is based on the immediate separation of the resin and the change in shape during transport from the production tree to the storage facility.

A distinction is made between varieties and commercial varieties for the identification of the technical extraction and processing of succinite.

Amber types

More than 80 types of amber are known worldwide, but most of them only occur in small quantities. A selection can be found in the article Amber deposits . The most common type of amber is succinite, in the Baltic States alone it is estimated to be more than 640,000 t. The accessory amber types Gedanite, Glessit, Beckerite and Stantienite have been known from the Baltic deposits since the 19th century .

There have been long-standing and contradicting discussions about the accessory fossil resins found in the waste (brackish) during the extraction of amber in Bitterfeld. B. In the meantime, the errors caused by the great rarity have been revised. In the Bitterfeld amber deposit, in addition to the 99.9% dominant succinite, the amber types Gedanite, Glessite, Beckerite, Stantienite, Goitschit , Bitterfeldite , Durglessit and Pseudostantienite as well as eleven other fossil resins not yet identified by name occur.

The copals , unless recent resin collected from trees is included, are young fossil resins from the tropics and subtropics in West and East Africa , Madagascar , the Malay Archipelago , New Zealand and Colombia . They are also considered amber by some authors despite their young age. Their lower hardness and greater solubility compared to older types of amber are not, as is often assumed, a consequence of “immaturity”, but rather a property of the original resin , as is the case with the similarly soft older types of amber goitschit and bitterfeldite from Bitterfeld.

Amber varieties

Varieties of succinite from the Bitterfeld deposit

Varieties of the amber type succinite are distinguished in particular according to the degree of cloudiness, characteristic are the flowing transitions and blends in the individual pieces:

  • Clear or shimmering clear , completely transparent like glass, color very weakly light yellow (ice clear) to brownish yellow (Brunswick clear) .
  • Flom or matt , semi-transparent, cloudy due to microscopic bubbles.
  • Bastard , completely opaque, full-cloudy, homogeneous to cloudy or speckled (so-called Kumst after the East Prussian name for sauerkohl ) with different degrees of coloration.
  • Bone , completely opaque ivory-colored to pure white ( white resin) .
  • Foam , completely opaque yellowish white, lighter than fresh water (weathering form of the bone variety ).
  • Black varnish , gray-black to marbled, wood mulm and earth with resin as a binding agent.
  • Colorful , mixture of the varieties clear to bone , often sharply demarcated and with crevices (see section Origin ).
  • Antique , varieties clear to bastard, colored differently from red to red-brown due to weathering.

Also of rarer types of amber, e.g. B. Glessit and Bitterfeldit, varieties are known.

Natural forms

In the case of natural forms, the primary and the secondary are to be distinguished. The primary natural forms emerged when the resin ran out, which is why they are often referred to as river forms :

  • Slubes arose when the resin came out in spurts and covered the previous resin outflow over a larger area. They are usually clear, soiling (e.g. dust) is not uncommon on the interfaces, they contain most of the fossil inclusions (inclusions).
  • Cones emerged from more punctual resin flows that solidified on their own drop thread before falling down . Longer resin flows can lead to thick resin stalactites . They also contain fossil inclusions.
  • Drops were created from drained resin, mainly flattened and disc-shaped, but also spherical to pear-shaped.
  • Tile (slabs) was created by the accumulation of resin of the bastard and bone varieties behind the bark or in crevices, without inclusions.
  • Tubers are lumpy accumulations of resin in secondary cavities of the wood body (e.g. due to pest infestation or wind breakage), predominantly of the bastard variety , without inclusions.

Secondary natural forms were created through weathering processes and the stresses during transport from the place of origin to the deposit:

  • Earth stone is the most common form in the deposits, the typical weathering bark was created by prolonged storage in the air before the final embedding.
  • Sea stone is the typical shape of the pieces washed up on the East and North Sea coasts and appearing to be polished, the weathering bark is removed by grinding over sand.
  • Pebbles occur particularly with softer types of amber, the well-rounded pieces indicate a longer transport route.

Varieties and commercial varieties

The industrially obtained amber (succinite) comes into the trade, especially sorted by size and variety. Contaminated or too fine-grained amber, which is suitable for amber distillation, is called brackish, slag or varnish , not for jewelry production.

Raw amber usually still has a weathering crust , unless it has been abraded by prolonged drifting on the seabed. This and cut and polished amber, the internal structure or color of which has not been artificially changed, are called natural amber .

Commercially available amber jewelry often contains clear-boiled amber. It is originally cloudy, unsightly natural amber that was boiled in hot oil. Oil has a significantly higher boiling point than water, so temperatures are reached at which the fossil resin becomes soft and more permeable and the tiny air bubbles are filled with oil. The refraction factor of oil is almost identical to that of amber, so the bubbles are no longer visible after the amber has cooled down. The result is a crystal clear, uniformly colored “stone”. However, the process has one flaw: the amber treated in this way is very sensitive during the cooling process. If the material is not carefully cooled down, degree by degree, so-called "sun shotguns", more or less semicircular, shiny gold cracks, are created. These are very rare in untreated amber and can only be found at break points. Occasionally the cooling process is deliberately controlled in such a way that decorative and attractive shotguns are formed. For clarification, instead of “boiling clear” in oil, the amber can also be heated in a sand bath . In this process, the vesicles fill with a resinous mass that the amber itself provides. Clarified amber is no longer a purely natural product.

Pressed amber is considered commercially misleading Real amber, amber real or Ambroid offered. However, this does not mean the naturally occurring amber, but a product that was made from grinding residues and small pieces in an autoclave . Pressed amber is made by heating cleaned amber chunks and then pressing them together under strong pressure. This happens in the absence of air and at a temperature of 200 ° C to 250 ° C. At a pressure of up to 3000  bar , the mass is solidified into rod-shaped or arched bodies. By varying the heat and pressure , different colors and both clear and cloudy pressed amber can be produced.

In addition to these forms of amber, genuine amber is also available in stores, a pressed amber that, apart from its irregular flashes, can hardly be distinguished visually from natural amber due to its small and delicate streak distribution . It can only be clearly determined by means of gemological examination methods.


Amber (approx. 12 cm Ø)
Natural amber lamp

The color of the amber (succinite) ranges from colorless to white, light to golden yellow and orange to red and brown tones , with cloudy pieces, greenish and bluish tones can rarely appear due to light refraction effects. Dark brown to blackish gray pieces contain large amounts of vegetable and mineral inclusions. The degree of opacity depends on the number of microscopic bubbles it contains. The variety bone (white resin) has the greatest density of bubbles (size: 0.0002 mm to 0.0008 mm, number: up to 900,000 per mm 2 ). Obsolete is the view that the bubbles "water and terpenhaltigem should be filled oil", ie the cell sap of the amber trees had survived. In mountain fresh state, the bubbles are filled with water. Since amber is not gas-tight, the water evaporates more or less quickly in the air. In the case of larger cavities, a dragonfly can appear in the meantime, like a spirit level.

With other types of amber, the play of colors is much greater, e.g. B. deep black ( Stantienit , Pseudostantienit), dark blue-gray (Glessit) and also blood-red colors. The blue shimmer that often occurs in Dominican amber is well known .

Amber (succinite), in contrast to imitations made of synthetic resin, can be lighted easily and shows a yellow, heavily sooting flame while burning. It smells resinous and aromatic and runs on the flame to a black, brittle hardening mass. The resinous odor arises because volatile components ( essential oils ) of the amber burn. It is therefore suitable for smoking and has been used as a smoking agent in many cultures for centuries. In India, for example, it is used as a substitute for incense for sacred purposes or in the traditional rituals of Sufism .

Physical Properties

Amber (succinite) has a Mohs hardness of 2 to 2.5 and is therefore a very soft material. It is possible to scratch a furrow in the surface with a copper coin . Some other types of amber are much softer (e.g. goitschit, bitterfeldite, copal) or much harder, e.g. B. the brown resins , which can hardly be scratched with a steel needle. Others have a rubbery consistency (e.g. pseudostantienite) or are extremely tough (e.g. beckerite).

Amber is only slightly denser than water. Because of their low density (around 1.07 gcm −3 ) they swim in saturated saline solutions. This property was used during the amber extraction in Bitterfeld to separate the amber from foreign components in the sieve residue> 3 mm.

Amber (succinite) has no melting point , at 170 ° C to 200 ° C it becomes soft and malleable, and above 300 ° C it begins to decompose. In the case of dry distillation , which used to be carried out on a large scale, the main products are amber oil and amber rosin . Amber oil was in the first half of the 20th century for the flotation of the ore used and the rosin was a popular paint raw material. Both substances have essentially lost their economic importance and are now only niche products. B. as a natural remedy.

Amber (succinite) has a very high electrical resistance and a very low dielectric constant of 2.9 as natural amber or 2.74 as pressed amber. In a dry environment, it can be electrostatically charged by rubbing it against textile fabric (cotton, silk) or wool. In doing so, it receives a negative charge, that is, it accepts electrons. The friction material receives a positive charge by releasing electrons. This charge is also known as static electricity . This property can be used as a non-destructive, albeit not always easy to carry out authenticity test - especially with smaller pieces: the charged amber attracts small scraps of paper, fabric fibers or wool fluff . This effect was already known in antiquity and was passed down through the works of Pliny the Elder into the late Middle Ages . The English naturalist William Gilbert dedicated a separate chapter to him in his work De magnete magneticisque corporibus , published in 1600, and distinguished him from magnetism . Gilbert also used the term "electricity", which he derived from the Greek word ἤλεκτρον ēlektron for amber.

Amber (succinite) glows blue under UV irradiation (wavelength 320 to 380 nm) in unweathered or freshly sanded condition and in a matt olive green when weathered. Succinite shines when it is damp or sanded, as it has a high refraction of light on a smooth surface . In layers up to 10 mm thick, it allows X-rays to pass through with almost no loss.

Fuhrmann & Borsdorf have presented a classification according to their physical properties , in addition to a succinite group (succinite, Gedanite), a glessite group (Glessit, Bitterfeldite, Durglessit, Goitschit ), a Beckerite group (Beckerite, Siegburgite ) and a stantienite group (Stantienite, pseudostantienite) are distinguished. Infrared spectrometric examinations, which are very easy to carry out, support this structure. The most common type of amber, succinite, is characterized by e.g. B. by an unmistakable section in the IR spectrogram , the so-called "Baltic shoulder".

Chemical properties

The deciphering of the chemical properties of the amber type succinite has a long history. For example, the distillation product amber oil was already known in the 12th century ; Agricola extracted succinic acid in 1546 , and the Russian polymath W. Lomonosov succeeded in providing scientific evidence of the nature of amber as a fossil tree resin in the mid-18th century. In 1829, Berzelius found out, using chemical analysis methods that already seemed modern, that amber is composed of soluble and insoluble components.

According to the elemental analysis, ambers consist of 67–81% carbon , the remainder is hydrogen and oxygen and sometimes a little sulfur (up to 1%). Additional elements can occur through the storage of mineral components. Amber is a mixture of different organic substances that are bound in long thread molecules. Detected soluble components are e.g. B. abietic acid , isopimaric acid , agathenedioic acid and sandaracopimaric acid . The insoluble component of amber is an ester called succinin (or Resen, Sucinoresen → Succinate ). So far, over 70 organic compounds have been identified that are involved in the structure of amber (succinite).

Most types of amber weather through exposure to atmospheric oxygen and UV radiation. In the case of succinite, the outer layers first darken and turn red ( antique variety ). Small polygonal cracks form from the surface and existing voids, over time the surface becomes rough and crumbly, and eventually the entire piece is decomposed. This also destroys existing inclusions.

Many types of amber are only sparingly soluble in organic solvents . Amber (succinite) only reacts on the surface with ether , acetone and sulfuric acid ; if it is left to act for a long time, it becomes matt. Pressed amber is less resistant. After prolonged contact with the substances mentioned above, it becomes doughy and soft . In principle, the same applies to copal and synthetic resin, only that with these a much shorter contact is sufficient.

The nomenclature of fossil resins is confusing. The designation of the amber types with regional names according to countries and regions as well as their properties in analogy to the minerals with the final syllable -it can lead to misunderstandings (see section Amber types ).

In a first outdated attempt to differentiate based on chemical composition, succinites with 3% to 8% succinic acid were separated from retinites with up to 3% succinic acid.

In 1995 Anderson & Crelling established the following classification according to the basic chemical building blocks: (Translation based on Christoph Lühr )

  • Class Ia: Polymers and copolymers of labdanoid diterpenes, such as B. Communinic acid , Communol and significant amounts of succinic acid (this includes succinitol and glessitol).
  • Class Ib: Polymers and copolymers of labdanoid diterpenes, such as B. communinic acid, communol and biforms. It does not contain succinic acid (this includes fossil resin from Kauri spruce ).
  • Class II: Macromolecular structures based on bicyclic sesquiterpenoids based (especially with Cadinan skeleton). (This includes amber from various deposits in Utah / USA and Indonesia ).
  • Class V: Non-polymeric diterpenoid resin acids , in particular based on abietane , pimars and iso-pimares (these include, for example, fossil resins of the genus Pinus ).

The classification of unknown amber types into this classification requires very complex mass spectrometric , gas chromatographic or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic investigations.

The determination of the botanical origin on the basis of the chemical composition is problematic because the low solubility of the high polymer compounds causes extreme analytical difficulties, because the fragments resulting from the forced pyrolytic splitting are usually not identical to the original substances. The botanical origin of a fossil resin can only be determined with certainty with paleobotanical investigations, such as B. with Gedanit.

Worldwide occurrence of amber

Amber collected on the Baltic Sea beach
Amber fishermen on the Baltic Sea beach, Gdansk, Poland

To identify the amber deposits that are widespread around the world, names by country or entire region were introduced some time ago, e.g. B. Romanian amber ( Romanite ) or Siberian amber . The reason for this simplification was often the insufficient knowledge of the physico-chemical properties and not infrequently also the small amount of the fossil resin found. In addition, the scientific identification of defined types of amber on the basis of their substantial properties, recognizable by the name suffix -it, has been around for a long time.

The age of the amber itself cannot be determined, only the age of the sediment enclosing it. The fossils or other components required for this, which can be used to determine the age, do not have to be of the same age. One example of this is the “blue earth” of the Baltic amber deposit. Fossils show an Upper Oocene age of around 35 million years. The much older age up to 50 million years determined on radioactive isotopes can very probably be explained by rearrangements.

Amber can only have been formed in a forest. Fossil forest soils with enclosed amber are seldom preserved, e.g. B. immediately below the Upper Ocene lignite seam near Bitterfeld or some copal deposits in East Africa. In contrast to these autochthonous deposits, most of the deposits are embedded in younger sediments, they are allochthonous . However, succinite is not very resistant to atmospheric oxygen, and in the aerated forest floor it can only survive for several millennia. Due to the need to embed it in a sediment suitable for its preservation, the age difference to the enclosing sediment is relatively insignificant on a geological scale, the occurrences are therefore parautochthonous .

The best-known amber find region in Europe is the southeastern Baltic Sea region, the Baltic States , especially the Samland peninsula ( Kaliningrad region , Russia ) between the Fresh and Curonian Lagoon . The richest and still economically used layer of finds, the so-called “ blue earth ”, was deposited in the Upper Eocene around 35 million years ago.

In addition, the Miocene layers of the so-called “lignite formation”, which are only about 20 million years old and which was also used at times, lead to amber in the overburden (see section Extraction ). Such young Miocene amber is also known from North Frisia and Lusatia . In Central Germany , numerous sites are now known, because the Goitzsche open-cast lignite mine is not the only place where amber was found in the tertiary layers.

The oldest amber (succinite) was found under the Upper Ocene lignite seam Bruckdorf west of Bitterfeld; it is about the same age as the amber of the "blue earth" of Samland. Other individual finds come from the seam level of the Lower Oligocene near Breitenfeld north of Leipzig and near Böhlen . In the entire Leipzig-Bitterfeld area, more than 20 deposits of amber from the Upper Oligocene were found on an area of ​​500 square kilometers . In addition to the well-known Bitterfeld amber deposit, 1,500 t of amber in the Breitenfeld open-cast mine and a considerable 500 t of amber in the Gröbern open-cast mine near Gräfenhainichen have been forecast for larger deposits .

Only a few researchers still hold on to the opinion that Central German amber from the “blue earth” of the Baltic region has been relocated or that at least its origin is still uncertain. All of these deposits are enclosed in a stratification that is very well known in the palaeogeographical environment, the mineral components of which were undoubtedly brought into the sea basin by rivers from the south. Relocation from the northeast over more than 600 kilometers is not possible because the more than 15 billion cubic meters of sand that encloses the amber would have had to be relocated from there.

The oldest amber finds in Central Europe come from open pit lignite mines near Helmstedt , the Geiseltal south of Halle and near Aschersleben and Profen near Zeitz . These findings from mitteleozänen layers are not succinite, but the types of amber Krantzit and Oxikrantzit , possibly extinct representatives of styracaceae come.

The numerous finds of amber on the coasts of the North and Baltic Seas as well as in Quaternary sediments in the entire north-central European region are well known. These purely allochthonous occurrences have no relation to the amber occurrences that developed in the Tertiary parautochthonous . Nor can they contribute to research into the formation of amber. Not only the Baltic, but also the North Frisian and Central German amber deposits were subject to severe erosion during the Quaternary glaciation. The amber-bearing strata were excavated by the inland glaciers , whole clods of the amber-bearing strata, but also amber loosened by meltwater from the bond, were scattered far across northern Central Europe. On the Dutch, German and Danish North Sea coasts, in Danish Jutland (Jutland amber), on the Danish islands and on the Swedish coast, amber washed out of Quaternary sediments after storms can be found by beachgoers. In Germany there are also larger inland deposits in areas of the Mark region - e.g. B. in the Barnim Nature Park between Berlin and Eberswalde ( Brandenburg ), they were found during regulations and canal construction in the glacial valley moving to Toruń . By being rearranged up to four times, this purely allochthonous amber can be found in all Quaternary layers up to the Holocene . Most of them are only single finds of no great significance.

Amber deposits have also become known from other parts of Europe , some with much older age, in eastern Central Europe ( Czech Republic , Hungary ) and also in Romania , Bulgaria and the Ukraine . The best known are the Moravian amber ( walchowite ), which is around 100 million years old, the Ukrainian amber , which consists mainly of succinite, and the Romanian amber (Romanite), which occurs in different deposits and depending on the deposit between 30 and Is said to be 100 million years old. Amber deposits are also known from Switzerland , Austria , France and Spain. Amber from the Swiss Alps is around 55 to 200 million years old, those from Golling around 225 to 231 million years old. Amber in the Jurassic layers (Cantabrian) near Bilbao is around 140 million years old. The well-known Sicilian amber ( simetite ), on the other hand, was only formed 10 to 20 million years ago. The oldest European amber is middletonite , it is around 310 million years old and comes from the coal mines of Middleton near Leeds .

In coastal countries of East and West Africa, but especially in Madagascar, copal occurs. The so-called Madagascar amber is around 100 to 1 million years old. Amber from various geological periods has been found in Nigeria , South Africa and Ethiopia .

America's best-known amber is amber from the Dominican Republic ( Dominican amber ), which is coveted for its clarity and richness in fossil inclusions . Amber deposits are also known from Canada (including Chemawinit from Cedar Lake ) and the US state of New Jersey ( Raritan ).

In Asia, amber is found mainly in the Near East ( Lebanon , Israel and Jordan ) and in Myanmar (formerly Burma / Burma). The Lebanon amber is about 130 to 135 million years old and the Burmese amber ( Birmite ) lying on secondary deposits is probably about 90-100 million years old.

In the Australian - Ocean region, amber is found in New Zealand and in the Malay section of the island of Borneo ( Sarawak amber) . While amber on Borneo is 15 to 17 million years old, New Zealand amber can be up to 100 million years old.

The largest piece of amber known to date was discovered in 1991 during a German-Malay research expedition by Dieter Schlee in Central Sarawak (Indonesia). In its original state it weighed about 68 kg and covered an area of ​​5 m². However, only several parts could be recovered, of which the two largest with a total weight of about 23 kg are in the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart , which is also in possession of a Guinness Book certificate (1995) for the largest amber find. Other very large pieces of amber are known from Japan . A piece of amber with a weight of 19.875 kg was recovered from the deposit at Kuji ( Kuji amber ) in 1927, another in 1941 with 16 kg. Both pieces are kept in the National Museum of Natural Sciences in Tokyo .

Amber (succinite)

Differentiation from other types of amber

Amber in the narrower sense, succinite, is by far the most important and best-researched type of amber commercially. Its importance is related to its abundance and distribution compared to other fossil resins, its prehistoric use, its rich fossil content and its favorable properties, which allow processing for all kinds of purposes (jewelry, cult objects, etc.).

Its scientific name succinite was introduced in 1820 by the German mineralogist August Breithaupt using the Roman name. Other types of amber are extremely rare in the Baltic deposits. Since it was described in the 19th century, no new finds have been reported in the last 130 years with an amount of amber extracted of around 40,000 t. They are therefore often forgotten, and for the sake of simplicity the predominant type of amber, succinite, is referred to as "Baltic amber". As explained above, in order to avoid misunderstandings, the term Baltic amber should only be used for regional identification.

Done the delimitation of succinite of other fossil resins, as described in the properties described in more detail, according to the physical and chemical properties.


The producer of amber (succinite) is still unknown. 165 years ago Heinrich Robert Göppert and Georg Carl Berendt concluded, based on resin inclusions in wood with a structure similar to that of recent pines (Pinaceae family), that the producer of succinite, the "amber tree", was an extinct representative of today's native conifers , and gave it the name Pinites succinifer . Hugo Conwentz came to the same conclusion 45 years later, but narrowed the origin to an extinct "amber pine " ( Pinus succinifera ). By Kurt Schubert finally in 1961, this assumption was essentially confirmed again.

Recent chemical investigations rule out such an origin, but despite a large number of recent representatives of the Araukariaceae , the genera Pseudolarix ( golden larch ) and Cedrus ( cedar ) as well as the plant family of Sciadopityaceae ( umbrella fir ), the origin is still unclear. The reason for this is the difficulty, already described in the Properties section , of reconstructing the original chemical building blocks of the original resin using the high-polymer amber.

Since the nature of the resin of these presumed recent relatives is very different from the hard and splintery succinite, it was obvious that the resin, which was so soft, only became amber through a fossilization process that lasted millions of years. The increased occurrence in marine sediments also gave rise to the assumption that this particular geochemical milieu played a role. It becomes even more speculative when an attempt is made to explain the different properties of amber species with a different “degree of maturity” of the same plant. The predominantly heavily clouded resin of native conifers also initiated the idea that the clear succinite was created from heavily clouded resin by solar radiation. These two assumptions, which seem so logical, have been found in all relevant literature for more than 100 years.

Investigations on the succinite from Bitterfeld, which cannot be distinguished from the succinite from the “blue earth” in terms of its properties and the characteristics of the “Baltic shoulder” of the infrared spectrogram, have not confirmed these assumptions. Many pieces of the variety Stained be crossed by columns that were closed again by younger resin flows. Several generations of crevices can be observed in some pieces of evidence.

Succinite with fissures and two successive younger resin rivers

There is no doubt that the younger Harz rivers can only come from the living tree. The picture of the severed spider shows that the hardening of the resin on the tree was largely complete. Only if the amber was already splintered could it be cut through as razor-sharp.

Spider cut in succinite by a crevice

The hardness of the succinite is therefore a primary property of the resin, and this indicates that it is not very closely related to recent representatives of the conifers . The almost complete and so rapid hardening of the resin also explains the unchanged body shape of the delicate animal inclusions, which are never bent or distorted (see also section inclusions ). A slow hardening lasting millions of years would inevitably have led to changes in shape, at least for some of the inclusions, given the loads during the assumed longer transport route.

Succinite with sharply defined clear and white resin

On the piece shown, clear resin has merged with heavily clouded resin of the bone variety at a sharp border. This can only be explained by the fact that the "amber tree" produced two types of resin and the clear succinite does not have to have been created by solar radiation. The highly opaque resin, the opacity was primarily caused by aqueous droplets of tissue juice, was completely miscible with the clear resin. This property does not match the hydrophobic resin of the native pine family. The parent plant of succinite is more likely a relative of the extinct coniferous species Cupressospermum saxonicum . This was identified as the production tree of Gedanite, a closely related amber species of succinite. It is also conceivable that succinite was formed by several species of a plant genus and that the small substantial differences in the resin cannot yet be recognized with current analytical methods. The origin of several species of a succinite-forming plant genus would also dispel the concerns of paleontologists that a single species could not have existed for the proven formation time of the succinite, almost 20 million years from the Obereocene (Priabonian) to the Middle Miocene .

Amber forest

The amber can only have been formed in a forest. For the Baltic amber deposit, the location of this amber forest can no longer be reconstructed because the inland glaciers of the Pleistocene glaciations have removed all traces. The unknown and not reconstructable location was and is the cause of all kinds of assumptions, in which the considerable size of the Baltic amber deposits also plays a role. The seemingly long time span between the formation of the amber in the amber forest and its embedding in the "blue earth" is an additional complication. Until recently it was assumed that the formation took place in the Upper Eocene and that the embedding only took place around 10 million years later in the Lower Oligocene (Rupelian). According to current assumptions, formation and embedding concentrate on the Upper Eocene , but according to geophysical age determinations, the time difference is now even supposed to be up to 20 million years. The succinite survives unscathed for only a few millennia in aerated soil, such as B. shows the very heavily weathered amber jewelry of the Mycenaean royal tombs. It would therefore have to have been kept airtight from destruction in a storage facility. Since there is not even any evidence of such an "interim storage facility", it is much more likely that the succinite made its way directly from the amber forest into the marine sediment of the "blue earth". There are only two ways in which the amber got into the "blue earth", either it was brought into the sea basin by a river, or the amber forest was flooded by the sea. The existing hypotheses cannot be based on concrete facts, so far not even sedimentological studies of the “blue earth” are available. Conceivable flooding disasters ( storm surges or tsunamis ) would not allow such a thick and widespread layer to be formed, and transgressions are much too slow for the large-scale accumulation of such a weather-prone material. It is therefore more probable that the hypothesis that has been around for some time is that the amber entered the sea via a river from the north. The name Eridanos was used for this river based on Greek mythology . The catchment area with the amber forest could have included all of what is now eastern Scandinavia .

If the river plows the amber forest floor by meandering in such a huge area, pathological resinification, so-called succinosis, due to special events (climatic catastrophes, parasite infestation, etc.) should not be necessary even for the large amount of amber in the Baltic deposits .

For the numerous Central German amber occurrences of the Upper Oligocene (see section Global occurrence of amber ), the reconstruction of their origin is secured by concrete findings. The amber and the sediments enclosing it were brought into a tidal basin, a "paleo-Baltic Sea", through a river system from the south. Amber was formed in the river valley of this "Saxon Amber River". According to other ideas, the amber forest is suspected in the delta of this river.

The numerous individual finds in Quaternary sediments, as well as clods of amber from leading tertiary sediments included in the Quaternary layer sequences , have nothing to do with the formation of the amber itself, they are only a result of the destruction of primary (parautochthonic) deposits during the Pleistocene glaciation.

Historical meaning

Amber has always fascinated people. In all important dynasties and at all times it was considered a symbol of luxury and power. Therefore it was used as jewelry from an early age.

Stone age

Amber from the Altamira Cave ( Solutréen ); it is very likely amber from a deposit in northern Spain. Toulouse Museum

Amber could already be found in the Paleolithic, albeit rarely. However, it was not processed at this early stage, and its purpose at that time is also unknown today. Pendants and pearls made of Baltic amber are known from North Frisia , the age of which was dated to around 12,000 years and which thus prove its use as early as the Upper Palaeolithic . If the deposits in today's Ukraine are also included in Baltic amber, this was already processed around 20,000 years ago (excavations near Kaneva on the river Ros ). Amber of similar age was also found in the Altamira cave , although this amber most likely comes from the region (northern Spain) and is therefore not a Baltic amber . For the Mesolithic (from approx. 9600 BC), the processing of amber can be ascertained more and more in regions on the North and Baltic Sea coasts. In the Neolithic Age , the fossil resin became a sought-after commodity and quickly spread from the Baltic Sea to Egypt. At that time there were many amber finds, which is related to the formation of the Litorina Sea (a post-glacial rise in sea level that led to the salinisation of the Baltic basin, which was then filled with fresh water). At that time it was possible to simply pick up the amber on the beach. In Denmark and the southern Baltic Sea region, from 8000 B.C. Amber used to produce status-enhancing animal amulets and carvings with engraved animal motifs. Shamans also use it as incense, so that it has a ritual meaning. When around 4300 BC When Neolithic farmers came to the northern coasts in the 3rd century BC , amber was still a sought-after raw material. They began to collect amber on a large scale, which was made into necklaces and pendants and worn or used for ritual purposes (offerings, grave goods). The builders of the megalithic tombs built typical of the time and this culture Axtnachbildungen to amber. Amber deposits , especially in Jutland , demonstrate the importance of amber as a commodity. M. Rech lists 37 depots in Denmark. For working the amber, there were highly developed tools made of antlers, flint, sandstone and animal skins, with which the amber could be worked and polished.

Bronze age

The Ingolstadt amber necklace

In the Bronze Age , interest in amber initially waned, although the material remained a popular burial object. Due to the common practice of cremating the dead, only a few pieces have survived. A necklace found in a more than 3000 year old dump near Ingolstadt showed a necklace made of around 3000 amber pearls , which must have been of inestimable value. It is unclear why the necklace was buried in a clay jug.

As early as the Bronze Age, amber was transported from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean on a so-called amber road . A lion's head made of amber was found in Qatna in a no later than 1340 BC. King's crypt created in BC. A scarab made of amber was probably found in Tutankhamun's burial chamber .

Alongside salt and raw metal ( bronze and tin ), amber was one of the most sought-after goods. He appears regularly in hoard finds and grave finds. Extensive relationships have been demonstrated through him. Two wide gold rings, each with an amber disk, were found in southern England (tin deposits), and an almost identical example is known from the Greek Bronze Age center of Mycenae (heyday from the 15th to the 13th century BC). A necklace of amber pearls was also found in an early Bronze Age hoard from Dieskau ( Saalekreis ) dating from around 1700 BC . On the in the late 14th century BC The ship from Uluburun, which sank off the southwest coast of Asia Minor , contained amber pearls from the Baltic Sea area.


Amber necklace ( Hallstatt period ) from Magdalenenberg , Franciscan Museum (Villingen-Schwenningen)

In the Iron Age , amber gained importance again through the esteem of the Phoenicians , Greeks , Scythians , Egyptians , Balts and Slavs as "tears of the sun" or "tears or urine of the gods". Later it was thought to be “urine of the lynx”, “petrified honey” or “solidified oil”. He was also referred to as the "gold of the north" or "tears of the sun daughters" ( Ovid, Metamorphosen II, 340–366). It was of great importance in sun cults, as it seems to glow from within due to bumps and cracks.

Collection of Roman amber objects. Archaeological Museum , Aquileia.

The Greeks valued amber as a precious stone, which they used as a medium of exchange for luxury goods of all kinds, as mentioned and described by Homer . The Romans used it as a medium of exchange and for engravings. In Greco-Roman antiquity, it was recognized that amber can become electrostatically charged. The Greek philosopher Aristotle interpreted the origin of amber as a plant sap and mentioned the occurrence of zoo inclusions . Pytheas of Massila had on one of his journeys around 334 BC. BC reached the so-called Amber Islands (meaning the West , East and North Frisian Islands in the North Sea). These islands are also called the electrids . The Romans Tacitus and Pliny the Elder wrote about amber as well as its origin and trade. Emperor Nero is said to have used amber in large quantities for representational purposes. In Rome during the imperial era, not only the emperor but also the people practiced a lavish luxury with amber. People drank from amber vessels, it adorned everything of value, and wealthy women dyed their hair amber. Pliny the Elder criticizes that a small amber figurine is more expensive than a slave. In Roman antiquity, the trade in Samland amber was opened up.

Ancient trade routes

As early as the Bronze Age, Baltic amber was a valuable object of exchange and a commodity that reached south. In the Mycenaean period (around 1600 to 1050 BC), jewelry made of imported amber was worn in Greece, as a number of finds from this period show. The amber trade routes are called Amber Roads. They run in bundles to the south to the Mediterranean :

  • to Aquileia : Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD) reports that amber was brought to Aquileia from the Baltic coast. The amber trade route, which was important in prehistory, follows the March in Lower Austria , crosses the Danube at Carnuntum east of Vienna and from here leads as the Roman amber route via Hungary and Slovenia to Aquileia in Italy. As an important transport route, it was expanded at the beginning of the 1st century AD under Augustus and Tiberius and connected to the Roman road network (see also Roman roads );
  • to the western Mediterranean: on various routes from Hamburg to Marseille .

middle age

Amber rosary

The Klaipėda Amber Museum has preserved necklaces from the 5th and 6th centuries , which were legal tender in today's Baltic region.

In the Middle Ages and for Catholic areas even afterwards, amber was mainly used to make rosary prayer chains. Because of its high value, feudal lords soon put the extraction and sale of all amber in East and West Prussia under sovereignty ( amber shelf ). Collecting and selling amber on one's own account was punished, at times the death penalty was imposed in particularly serious cases. The coastal people had a duty under the guard by the beach Rider and chamber servants to collect amber and deliver. Amber was also heated in Europe and China in the Middle Ages to use it as a water-repellent varnish to protect wood. In the 10th century, amber was also a popular material among Vikings , which was used as incense or artfully processed. From this period there are known finds of pearls for mixed chains, spindle whorls , game board figures and dice made of amber.

Amber deposits found further inland were also used in the Middle Ages. In Kashubia , at Bursztynowa Góra (Amber Mountain), funnels up to 40 m in diameter and 15 m deep can be seen in the landscape. The dismantling is first documented there from the 10th century.

Modern times

Amber pendant (size 32 mm on the left and 52 mm on the right)
Old silver bracelet with amber links
Reconstructed amber room

In modern times , amber was processed into jewelry according to old tradition and also used for caskets, game stones and boards, inlays, pipe mouthpieces and other representative items.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the need for amber rose wreaths decreased, which is why other objects were now made of amber. In the beginning, these objects continued to come from the religious field. However, this changed with the beginning of the Reformation. The Prussian rulers used the amber for representational purposes and had various decorative and everyday objects made from it. The Prussian court commissioned hundreds of amber art objects, mainly goblets, tins, confectionery bowls and sword handles, which ended up in many art collections of European royal houses as wedding and diplomatic gifts. The amber was often combined with tortoiseshell , ivory and precious stones . At the beginning of the 16th century, the manufactured objects were still relatively small due to the small size of the amber and the lack of knowledge of how to weld the parts. Towards the end of the 16th century, however, it became possible to produce larger and more elaborate works of art. These included, above all, jewelry boxes, which consist of small amber platelets in relief, which are glued together or held together by a silver frame. The first larger amber furniture comes from this time.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the construction of amber objects on wooden frames began. The amber flakes were often deposited with gold leaf to emphasize the reliefs carved into them. The colors and contrasts of the amber were chosen so that beautiful mosaic-like effects were created or, for example, to be able to distinguish fields on game boards. Typical amber works of the 17th century are, for example, handles on cutlery, candlesticks, game boards or objects for religious use such as household altars.

In the 18th century, collecting amber objects in curiosity chambers became fashionable, which once again increased its prestige. The amber craft was one of the leading and most respected professions. Great works such as the Amber Room, which the Prussian King Friedrich I had made for his Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, which was completed in 1712, were created. In 1716 his son gave the room away to the Russian Tsar Peter I. Later it was built into the Catherine Palace near St. Petersburg, robbed by the Germans during World War II and brought to Königsberg . It has been lost since 1945. It is unclear whether it burned or remained. However, there are rumors that the amber room is still stored in underground tunnels. Mainly, however, small items such as decorated jewelry or games were made for social occasions.

Advances in the natural sciences have recognized that amber, as a fossil resin, is not of mystical but of natural origin. This is why courtly interest in amber declined after 1750.

In the 19th century, amber extraction and processing took on industrial proportions. Raw amber was shipped in large quantities all over the world. For example, pipe mouthpieces and other smoking utensils, as well as small boxes, pendants, necklaces and brooches were manufactured.

Until the 19th century, amber was mainly extracted from the beach. In 1862, for example, 4000 kg could be collected using this method. In 1837 the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm III. the entire use of amber from Danzig to Memel against the sum of 30,000 marks for the communities of Samland. From the middle of the 19th century, mining was increasingly mechanized. The two entrepreneurs Friedrich Wilhelm Stantien and Moritz Becker , who founded their company Stantien & Becker in Memel in 1858, were pioneers in this field . They first began to systematically excavate the Curonian Lagoon near Schwarzort . Then in 1875 they built what was probably the world's first amber mine near Palmnicken . In 1890 more than 200,000 kg could be extracted in this way. Amber jewelry was now more and more a product of the wealthy middle class. The amber shop that still exists today on Munich's Marienplatz dates back to 1884. Stantien & Becker had sales offices around the world (including in India , Mexico and Tokyo).

Pressed amber has been around since 1881 , making jewelry affordable for all walks of life. In some regions of Europe, faceted amber necklaces were part of the wedding dress of farmers. In 1899, profitable production was returned to the state. In 1912 alone, 600 tons of amber were mined. In total, over 16,000 tons of Baltic amber were mined in Samland from 1876 to 1935. In 1926, the world's largest manufactory, the Staatliche Amber-Manufaktur Königsberg (SBM), was established in East Prussia , where artistic products and everyday objects were made from amber until 1945. Therefore, amber was quickly called "Prussian gold".

The Polish artist Lucjan Myrta deserves a special mention from the recent past . Many of his works, which are often works in the Baroque style and whose artistic status is not undisputed in the professional world, can be seen in the Historical Museum of the City of Gdansk . The artist , who lives in Sopot, has kept very many of the often unusually large works of art in his personal possession. The artist presumably maintains the world's largest, albeit not publicly accessible, collection of amber artifacts. In one of the large-volume works that remained in his private collection, more raw amber is used than in the entire Amber Room.

Amber extraction

Pre-mining period

Title page of a book from 1677. An amber fisherman and an amber grave on the Samland coast.

There are numerous writings on the extraction of amber in Samland in the time before the start of amber mining, an extensive, more recent representation comes from Rainer Slotta .

Before 1860, amber in Samland was mainly obtained by collecting the amber washed up on the coast. The progressive erosion of the cliffs by the sea ensured that the amber-bearing layers were constantly replenished. Mining played a lesser role, but for technical reasons it had to be limited to the surface layers of the “blue earth” that were free of groundwater . According to a contemporary report from 1783, mining in this way has apparently already been carried out over centuries in various places on the Samland coast, even if, depending on the productivity, often only for a manageable time, in small-scale graves , which in particular nest-like enrichments of the Miocene- bearing amber so-called "brown coal formation" used. Smaller active civil engineering works from this period are documented between 1781 and 1806. In a contract to lease the amber shelf to a consortium, which included senior state officials and some merchants, the tenants were expressly given the option of mining amber in open pits for the duration of the lease (1811 to 1823) in addition to mining amber from the sea so-called “seamounts” in an area that stretched from Polsk (Narmeln) on the Fresh Spit to Nimmersatt (now Nemirseta in Lithuania). The extraction of amber from these pits is said to have been particularly profitable.

The amber quantities obtained by collecting on the so-called Amber Coast are reported in some chronicles. The annual amount is said to have been 20 to 30 tons through collection on the beaches. After violent storms, the amount of amber washed up in one day could reach 1,000 kilograms and more. The simple collection of amber on the coastline was the most widespread and probably most productive method of amber extraction. But other methods also led to success:

  • Amber fishing or amber scooping .The amber fisherman stood in the surf with a net attached to a long pole. The net was held in the rising wave. As it did so, it filled with seaweed and sapwood , between which the whirled amber was caught. The material was thrown on the beach and searched there. This method is still used today on sections of the Baltic Sea coast in Russia, Lithuania , Poland , Germany and Denmark. The amber obtained in this way is sometimes referred to in older literature as "draft amber" or "scoop stone".
  • Amber piercing .In particular, larger pieces of amber often remained between larger stones in the coastal area. The stones were loosened with long poles from special, particularly wide row boats and occasionally recovered as building material. Then the seabed was searched for amber. For this purpose, cashers attached to long poles were used, with which the amber was whirled up and carried into the boat with the net.
  • Amber diving .Attempts to dive for amber were made as early as the early 18th century. This happened without aids and was largely unsuccessful. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that amber diving was made a success with aids ( diving suits ) by the company Stantien & Becker, which later also began mining amber near Palmnicken . The highest annual amount collected by amber diving was 14 tons in 1881.

The collection of amber in the coastal area became economically irrelevant in Samland with the start of mining by the Stantien & Becker company in 1871. The Bern complexion diving z. B. was discontinued in 1883.

The amber dredging by the Stantien & Becker company from 1862 to 1890 on the Curonian Spit near Schwarzort (now Juodkrantė ) played an important role in the transition to mining . Up to 75 tons of amber were extracted annually. In the course of this amber dredging, 434 pieces of Neolithic amber jewelry were found.

On the German North Sea coast , especially in the Eiderstedt area, a lot of amber was found up to the middle of the 19th century. Amber was collected in the mudflats and on some particularly successful sandbanks by so-called heat runners and amber riders . Skilled riders knew how to fish the amber from the shallow water with a small net attached to a pole without getting off the horse.

Sites with mining

At least 75% of the world production of amber (succinite) currently comes from regular mining on the Samland peninsula (Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia; formerly East Prussia). In Poland, relocated amber contained in Quaternary sediments , particularly from the Vistula lowlands near Gdansk , has long been extracted in countless mostly illegal small graves. The total amount recovered for the period 1945 to 1995 is given as 930 t, the average annual output is around 20 t.

Mining from smaller deposits in northern Ukraine, e.g. B. at Klesów , is currently becoming increasingly important.

The extraction of amber in the Goitzsche open-cast lignite mine near Bitterfeld, with a total of 408 t, was at times up to 10% of the world's volume from 1975 to 1990, and the remaining 600 t in reserves form a secure basis for renewed mining activity.


Open pit "Primorskoye" in Jantarny

The main extraction of amber has taken place since 1871 in the village of Jantarny (formerly Palmnicken) in Samland , 40 km west of Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg). Large deposits of amber, extending from the steep coast to far inland, form the basis. The main find layer, the "blue earth", is mostly below sea level, in the area of ​​the beach up to 10 m, but inland up to 55 m below the surface of the terrain. The seam of the “blue earth” is a sandy clay several meters thick, the greenish-gray color of which is caused by the glauconite it contains. The amber content fluctuates very strongly between 23 and 0.5 kg per cubic meter, in the best years it was an average of two to three kilograms.

In 1870 the mining development of the "Blue Earth" began by the company Stantien & Becker . In the first few years, the mining was done exclusively by hand in a 10 m deep opencast mine on the beach, which was also driven into the steep coast. From 1875 onwards, for economic reasons, civil engineering had to be carried out; the routes were initially excavated from the opencast mine. With pits built from 1883 onwards , amber was mined in civil engineering until 1923. In 1916, amber mining began in the newly laid out Palmnicken open-cast mine . The mining was done with large bucket chain excavators , as they were also common in the central German lignite opencast mines. Sensitive sales crises in the raw material for jewelery were caused by the First World War , and in the 1930s the profitability deteriorated because the predominant fine grain was no longer required for the production of lacquer raw materials.

After 1945, the palm-nod, which had become Soviet, was renamed Jantarnyi after the Russian word for amber, jantar, and amber extraction, which had come to a standstill, was resumed. In 1976 the open-cast mine, which had been in use since 1916, was finally closed, and the Primorskoie open-cast mine, which is still in use today, was put into operation. Annual production reached 780 t in a few years, from 1951 to 1988 a total of around 18,250 t was mined. In the 1970s, with the transition to the new opencast mine, production fell as a result of technical and organizational problems. The political upheaval in the 1990s also had a major impact, which led to the dismantling being temporarily halted. The mining technology was changed, at times only hydro monitors were used. At the moment, after the massive overburden has been removed, the raw material is being loosened using a dragline excavator , the deposited debris is slurried with hydro monitors and the sludge is transported by large pumps through a kilometer-long pipeline to the processing plant. There the amber is sifted out. The sludge residue is flushed away via a pipe system on the Baltic Sea beach.

Bitterfeld and Central Germany

Amber in tertiary layers containing lignite has been known from Patzschwig near Bad Schmiedeberg since 1669 . Described as "Saxon amber", it was also extracted at times. Find reports of individual amber in lignite mines near Bitterfeld are available from the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

In 1955, in the Goitzsche open- cast lignite mine east of Bitterfeld, the amber-bearing layers were cut for a short time, but the emerging, sometimes large, chunks were not recognized as amber (succinite) but were called retinite . It was not until 1974 that the importance of the amber deposit was recognized when it was cut again. The geological exploration started in the same year led to evidence of a usable deposit. In 1979, 2,800 t of amber were calculated as geological stock. The mining began as early as 1975. The reason for the production, which began so quickly, was the sharp decline in amber imports from the Soviet Union, which in the 1970s reduced its annual amber deliveries from ten tons to one and thus the jewelry production in the " VEB Ostseeschmuck " in Ribnitz- Damgarten endangered. From 1975 to 1993 the Goitzsche opencast mine produced up to 50 t annually, a total of 408 t. The mining of amber was initially canceled in 1990 due to the severe environmental pollution and finally stopped in 1993 for economic reasons. At this point in time there were still 1,080 t of recoverable stocks on the books. After the embankments had been rehabilitated , the remaining hole in the Goitzsche opencast mine was flooded from 1998. Due to the renovation of the embankments, parts of the storage area were blocked, but according to a study, access to 600 t of amber is still possible. The water cover of 20 to 25 m is technically not an obstacle, and according to a limnological report, the extraction would also be environmentally friendly.

There are detailed descriptions of the extraction of amber in the Goitzsche open-cast lignite mine. The raw amber obtained was cleaned and dried at the processing plant in the opencast mine, and the portion that could not be used for the manufacture of jewelry was selected by hand. The usable raw amber was sifted into four types according to size and delivered to the "VEB Ostseeschmuck". The portion that could not be used for jewelry production was discarded as waste (brackets). This contained in addition to unsuitable varieties of succinite, z. B. bones, foam, black varnish (see section amber varieties ), also the very rare accessory types of amber, which have already been the subject of numerous scientific studies (see section amber types ). Because of the weathering crust, inclusions in the Bitterfeld succinite only became visible during processing in the “VEB Ostseeschmuck”. They were given to the Museum für Naturkunde (Berlin) for scientific investigation . As early as 1989 this collection comprised more than 10,000 pieces. Matches with some groups of animals also found in the Baltic succinite play a major role in the discussion about the origin of Bitterfeld amber, see the section on the history of inclusion research .


Poland is a major exporter of amber products. Polish amber comes mainly from Możdżanowo near Ustka on the Pomeranian Baltic Sea coast, where it was already mined at the end of the 18th century. It is found there in many different shades. 60% of the finds are transparent. Amber can also be found at the connection point to the Hel Peninsula at a depth of 130 m. An amber deposit was also discovered on the Lublin plateau. The stocks of Polish amber deposits are estimated at 12,000 t. However, most of the amber processed in Poland does not come from its own production, but is imported from the Kaliningrad region and the Ukraine.

Northern Ukraine

Open pit mine in
Klessiw , Ukraine

The amber deposits in northern Ukraine, near Dubrowyzja on the Belarusian border, have been known since 1979 . After gaining independence, the Ukrainian leadership decided in 1993 to exploit these deposits under a state monopoly. Since the deposits at the surface are in sandy layers, they are very easy to mine, and so a considerable non-governmental (and therefore illegal) extraction has developed since then (around 90% of Ukrainian production), which takes their products for further processing smuggled the border to Poland and Russia . The Ukrainian deposits contain exceptionally large individual pieces. The amber found in Ukraine is probably of the same origin as the succinite from the "blue earth" of Samland.

Current market situation

The prices for one kilogram of Russian raw amber from Jantarny in March 2011 in Poland were € 260 for pieces between 2.5 and 5 grams and around € 550 for pieces between 50 and 100 grams. Reduced production quantities, the introduction of export restrictions by the Russian regional government and a significantly increased demand from China for raw amber of certain qualities led to a multiplication of the price in the following years (as of mid-2014: pieces from 50 to 100 grams approx. 3000 EUR for one Kilogram).

Unique pieces of Baltic amber

In a contribution from 2003, Krumbiegel lists pieces from Quaternary sediments from northern European glaciation areas weighing more than 2 kilograms. Here is a selection from this list of 28 pieces:

  • 1922 and 1970 in Sweden: about 1.8 kg each;
  • 1969 by a Swedish lobster fisherman in Bohuslän on the west coast of Sweden: 10.478 kg (at the time of the find a mass; today still 8.886 kg, because something was cut off); it is located in the Ravhuset in Copenhagen;
  • 1860 at Cammin in Pomerania (after 1945 Rarwino / Kamień Pomorski): a 48 × 22 × 20 cm large and 9.75 kg block, which is kept in the Berlin Museum of Natural History at the Humboldt University and is exhibited in the Mineraliensaal;
  • Sunstone (Saulės akmuo): about 3.5 kg, 21 × 19 × 15 cm; exhibited in the Amber Museum in Palanga , Lithuania.

Also to mention:

  • A unique piece weighing 4280 grams in the Kaliningrad Amber Museum .
  • A piece extracted in the Primorski (Jantarny) opencast mine in 2016 and weighing approx.2.7 kilograms,


fungus gnat trapped in amber


Vegetable inclusions in Baltic amber

The excellently preserved inclusions in the amber arouse admiration again and again. In particular, the inclusions of delicately winged insects impress with their finest details. Like many fossils in sedimentary rocks, they are neither compressed nor otherwise deformed . Even traces of the agony are preserved unchanged. In some animals, a cloud of cloud (defumation) can be observed around larger body parts, a consequence of escaping gases and liquids when the animal's body decays. Their limited spread, like the detailed impression, is only conceivable with a very rapid hardening, as it otherwise only occurs with fast-hardening plastics . The inclusions are only the imprint of the former living being; as a rule, no parts of its body are preserved in the cavity created.

As already described in the Origin section , the previous ideas about slow hardening cannot be maintained due to the test results on pieces of succinite from Bitterfeld. The succinite hardened practically completely on the tree, and the fact that the inclusions are kept true to shape also fits this.


Organic inclusions are known from most types of amber, albeit in different frequencies. During the geological research of the Bitterfeld amber deposit, the frequency of the inclusions was also examined: One ton of the Bitterfeld succinite contains an estimated 4500 animal inclusions.

In the case of succinite, the so-called "schlaubensteine" are particularly productive. The resin flows from the outside formed on the tree trunk Schlauben are built up in layers (each layer corresponding to a resin flow), where the inclusions are mostly at the interfaces of the resin flows. Often, however, the finds are only fragments of the trapped organisms. Zoo inclusions are often damaged, presumably by bird feeding, when the animal was not yet completely enclosed by the resin. It is not uncommon to find individual legs of long-legged arthropods (e.g. harvesters ) who were able to throw off their legs in emergency situations. Organic residues from decayed plant material and wooden sludge with mostly unidentifiable botanical origin occur frequently. Pieces with completely preserved evidence of life at that time are particularly valuable from a scientific point of view.

Inclusions can generally only be found in transparent or at least semi-transparent pieces. With the help of synchrotron radiation , however, it has been possible to discover organic inclusions even in opaque pieces. In the case of Cretaceous amber from France, a research group led by paleontologist Paul Tafforeau was able to use this method to record 3D models of inclusions in opaque pieces of amber.

Animals and plants in amber

Spider in amber

The life forms preserved in amber were predominantly forest dwellers. Common forms of animal inclusions (zoo inclusions) are various arthropods , especially insects such as flies , mosquitoes , dragonflies , earwigs , termites , grasshoppers , cicadas and fleas , but also woodlice , crustaceans , spiders and worms as well as occasional snails , bird feathers and hair of mammals . In the Upper Cretaceous Canadian amber found some feathers very well preserved, due to their structural characteristics of dinosaurs could have come. Several pieces with parts of ( lacertid ) lizards , including a largely complete specimen, were also found (see also the section on counterfeiting and manipulation ). Particularly complete and detailed inclusions of lizards have become known from Burma . It is wrong to claim that there are inclusions of marine life in amber. The living organisms included are exclusively rural (70% of all inclusions) and freshwater organisms (30%) of the amber forest areas. The only exceptions are inclusions of woodlice of the genus Ligia , which live in the splash zone of marine rocky beaches, as well as a fauna made up of marine microorganisms (including diatoms and foraminifera ) found in a small piece of Cretaceous amber from southwest France .

Star hair in Baltic amber, image width approx. 1 mm

There are also a number of plant inclusions (phytoin clusters): mushrooms , mosses and lichens , but also parts of plants that come from larches , spruces , firs , palms , cypresses , yews and oaks . By far the most common organic inclusion in succinite is the so-called "star hair", which can be found in almost all schlauben . They are tiny, radiantly branched plant hairs ( trichomes ) that are barely visible to the naked eye and which most likely come from oaks. These inclusions are considered to be a characteristic feature of the succinite from deposits of Baltic amber.

Sometimes inclusions with water droplets or air pockets are found. The Polish paleoentomologist Jan Koteja coined the term synin clusters for pieces of amber with various organic inclusions. Such amber pieces are unique pieces of evidence about the simultaneous occurrence of different living things in one habitat .


Inclusions preserved in the absence of air in amber are indeed fossils, but in contrast to most fossils, their substance was not or not completely mineralized during fossilization .

That from DNA of an included mosquito that dinosaur blood was taken, with the help of genetic engineering a living dinosaurs can be generated, as in later than Jurassic Park filmed book Jurassic Park of Michael Crichton , is represented subject of fiction.

Indeed, it was repeatedly published that from Bernstein not only sequenceable ancient DNA (ancient DNA) can be isolated, even from chloroplasts - DNA but also proteins and even viable organisms.

The question of aDNA detection is, however, controversial. Scientists in the past have expressed serious doubts about the preservation of aDNA for millions of years and suspected contamination with recent DNA. A possibility of preserving aDNA, e.g. B. within fossilized bones, is in principle almost excluded, since the DNA quickly decays after the death of a living being and can no longer be detected after 6.8 million years at the latest without the absence of air. Other scientists contradict this view and show that there are definitely ways to preserve very old aDNA. aDNA extractions and their analyzes are also possible on very old fossils. However, it was found that with very old aDNA, for example from the Miocene , changes were to be expected, since the original base cytosine could then be present as uracil , which makes interpretation more difficult.

History of inclusion research

Even in antiquity there was certainty about the organic character of numerous inclusions in amber. At the time, however, biologically applicable perceptions still stand alongside poetry and myth, as can be shown, for example, by the titles of two epigrams of Martial : About a bee in amber and About a viper in amber . His epigram about an ant in amber is fully reproduced in the chapter Amber in Mythology and Poetry .

However, scientific research into the inclusions did not begin until the 18th century, which is not least due to the availability of significantly improved technical aids (especially microscopes) and the enormous progress in biological research. The first monographs on animal and plant groups were published in the 19th century (the following authors of works on inclusions in Baltic amber that have remained important to this day should be mentioned here: Heinrich Göppert , Georg Carl Berendt , Hugo Conwentz , Robert Caspary , Richard Klebs , Anton Quantity and Fernand Meunier ).

The rich inclusions of Bitterfeld succinite play an important role in amber research. The similarities found in the investigation of some animal groups, especially spiders, with those from the collections of Baltic succinites led to the assumption that the amber from the Bitterfeld deposit was only relocated Baltic amber . The comprehensive knowledge of the amber occurrences in central Germany excludes such a possibility (see section Global occurrence of amber ). It has long been considered possible that the Baltic amber collections also contain inclusions from the Miocene layers of the Samland, which were extracted in the initial phase of extraction (see section Amber extraction in the pre-mining period ), i.e. mixed fauna present. A final clarification can only take place through new collections from the current amber extraction in Jantarny , because this is done solely from the Upper Ocene "Blue Earth".

Among the more recent representations of the fauna and flora in Baltic amber , mention should be made of the scientific, but still widely understandable, works of Wolfgang Weitschat and Wilfried Wichard (Atlas of plants and animals in Baltic amber), George O. Poinar jr. (Life in amber) as well as the strictly scientific work of Sven Gisle Larsson (Baltic Amber - a Palaeobiological Study) .

The largest inclusive collections of Baltic amber

Probably the largest ever collection of organic inclusions in Baltic amber , with around 120,000 pieces, was that of the Albertus University in Königsberg . Most of this collection was lost in the turmoil of World War II, the remaining part is now in the Institute and Museum for Geology and Paleontology (IMGP) of the University of Göttingen. Before the Second World War, the collection of the West Prussian Provincial Museum in Gdansk , whose holdings must have included well over 13,000 copies, was also of considerable importance.

The following institutions are among the largest collections of our day:

Utensils and technical devices

Sarcophagus-like box made of various types of amber. Danzig , early 17th century.

In the chemical industry, amber, unsuitable for the jewelry industry, was initially used for the production of amber lacquer, amber oil and succinic acid . Lacquers are mostly composed of rosin (remaining solid mass of molten amber after distillation of amber oil and succinic acid ), turpentine oil and linseed oil varnish , sometimes supplemented by black lead , in different recipes depending on the use of the end product (e.g. as ship lacquer or floor lacquer). At times the horse hair of the violin bow was coated with pure rosin ("violin resin"). Pure amber oil was used as a wood preservative , which has proven to be very effective, while succinic acid was used in the manufacture of certain paints. Today these products are almost exclusively produced synthetically.

At the end of the 17th century, techniques emerged to discolor amber. The final clear product was used as a raw material for optical lenses. Optical devices using amber lenses remained in use until the mid-19th century. Up until the Second World War (in some cases - for example in Hamburg - until 1950), vessels made of amber were used for blood transfusions , as this could counteract blood clotting . Another very rare area of ​​application was electrical insulators , since the specific resistance of amber is about 10 16  Ω · m −1, greater than that of porcelain .

Pressed amber

The pressed amber, developed in Königsberg in the 1870s, has been used on an industrial scale since 1881 in Vienna and later also in the State Amber Manufactory in Königsberg for the production of everyday objects such as cigarette holders , mouthpieces for tobacco pipes or the Turkish Tschibuk , knick-knacks (arts and crafts) and cheap jewelry . After Africa exported pressed amber was also disparagingly as Negroes money designated.

The inexpensive pressed amber was replaced by the cheaper plastic after a while. It started with Bakelite , which almost completely displaced pressed amber.

Mythology and poetry

Apart from the numerous prosaic text passages from ancient writings (including Herodotus , Plato , Xenophon , Aristotle , Hippocrates , Tacitus , Pliny the Elder , Pytheas ; Waldmann lists 31 preserved ancient text passages and refers to Pliny , who wrote another 30 in his treatise on amber) Mentioned text passages that have not survived to us), which mostly deal with describing amber and explaining its origin, the fossil resin has its permanent place in mythology and poetry. This undoubtedly included some of the numerous writings of Pliny the Elder. Ä. mentioned authors who have dealt with tree resin in some way, but whose works have not survived.

The earliest poetic mentions of amber that have come down to us are myths and legends in which beings with supernatural powers (gods, demigods and figures from the underworld) contributed to the creation of amber through their actions. An example of this are the tears of the Heliads , which flowed into Ovid's Metamorphoses , which can be traced back to Euripides ' tragedy The Wreathed Hippolytus , when Phaeton , the brother of the Heliads, came too close to the earth in his sun chariot because the horses ran through him and he was caught by a lightning bolt of Zeus after the earth complained to him about Phaeton's behavior. The golden tears of the mourning sisters, turned to poplars , froze to electron (amber). This myth can also be found in Homer's Odyssey when the Argonauts' ship was driven into the river Eridanos , from which the plumes of smoke from the Phaeton's sun chariot, which had fallen into the water at this point, still rose. This river keeps returning in ancient writings as the place from which all amber is said to come. For example, Pausanias says in his description of Greece:

... But this electron, from which the statue of Augustus is made, occurs naturally in the sand of Eridanus. It is very rare and valuable. The other electron, however, is a mixture of gold and silver ... "

- Eridian legend in the 5th book of the description of Greece by Pausanias, around 170 AD

The events in the legend of Jūratė and Kastytis from the area of ​​today's Lithuania , at the end of which the destruction of an amber castle on the seabed is as dramatic as in the myth of the tears of the heliads , with which the constantly renewed beach finds at the Baltic Sea are explained by poetic means.

Poetic representations of insects enclosed in amber are also known from the Roman Empire . For example, the Roman poet Martial wrote the following verse during the reign of Emperor Titus , in which the lightning-struck Phaeton appears, around which the Heliads had shed their tears, frozen in amber:

While a
little ant wanders around in Phaeton's shadow, the delicate game enveloped resinous drops.
See how it was previously despised in life,
now only through its death did it become a precious treasure.

- Epigram of the poet Martial, between 85 and 103 AD

The poet Daniel Hermann, who was born in Neidenburg in East Prussia, gives an early example of poetic treatment in German literature with his verses written in Latin on an amber frog and an amber lizard from the collection of the Danzig merchant Severin Goebel , who was apparently a victim of forgeries. In numerous later works of East Prussian poetry up to the 20th century, the "gold of the north" is the focus of verses. Maria Schade (East Prussia), Rudolf Schade (Samlandlied), Johanna Ambrosius (East Prussian song ), Hans Parlow (Pillauer Lied) and Felix Dahns (The Amber Witch) as well as one of the most famous poets of East Prussian origin, Agnes Miegel ( That was a spring and the song of the young woman ) should only be mentioned here as representative of many others.

In addition to the extensive specialist literature and the many popular scientific publications , mostly in German, Polish or English, documentaries and narrative works on the subject of amber that have become known to a larger audience have recently appeared again and again. At this point some of these titles should be mentioned - without any evaluation - the amber room saga by Günter Wermusch , the amber collector by Lena Johannson , the mosquito in amber by Else G. Stahl, the amber amulet by Peter Prange.

Legendary healing powers and protective spells

Thales von Milet equated the electrostatic properties of amber with magnetic forces, which not only attract dust and tissue fibers, but also other tiny structures that can have a harmful effect on human health (today we would call this pathogen ). Not least because of this, amber has been used as a remedy since ancient times. So wrote Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia that protect the skin worn amber amulets with fever. The Greek doctor Pedanios Dioscurides described in his work Materia Medica in the 1st century AD the healing properties of amber for podagrash pain , dysentery and abdominal flow. The people of the past and of antiquity did not find any reasonable explanation for the extraordinary properties of amber. This led to the fact that in many places the fossil resin was ascribed a demon-repellent effect as an apotropaion . The amber was worn on the body, often tied around the neck with a ribbon. Forming and ornamentation were added later, which were initially figurative representations through which the healing powers and protective magic of amber were to be strengthened and channeled; later these decorative treatments became independent, for example in the form of pendants.

According to medieval manuscripts (12th century), which are attributed to Hildegard von Bingen , amber was considered to be one of the most effective medicines for a whole range of diseases and ailments (e.g. stomach problems, bladder dysfunction ). The ban on trading in white amber comes from the same time, pronounced by the Teutonic Knights Order , who controlled the extraction and use of amber , as special healing powers were attributed to it and it was used by the order itself for medical purposes. Georgius Agricola recommended various amber mixtures as a preventive agent against the plague in his work “De peste” (1554) .

Some authors published exact recipes: Nicholas Culpeper (1654) recommended about 0.7 grams of amber to be taken as a remedy for difficult urination; William Salmon (1696) considered a mixture of 2.3 grams of amber powder with 0.14 liters of white wine to be beneficial for epilepsy , and Jan Freyer (1833) mixed amber oil with six parts of distilled water and prescribed this remedy in different doses and preparation forms as a medicine External and internal use for a variety of diseases and complaints (cramps, tapeworms , rheumatism and much more).

The physician and microbiologist Robert Koch analyzed succinic acid in 1886 and came to the conclusion that succinic acid can have a positive, among other things, immunity-increasing influence on the human organism and, even when administered in large quantities, does not damage the organism.

Medicines containing the active ingredient succinic acid are still on the market today - especially in the USA and Russia. Preparations containing amber extracts are also used in homeopathy . Since succinic acid is enriched in the weathering crust of raw amber, it is often recommended in naturopathy to wear unprocessed amber directly on the skin.

Belief in the “power of stone” can also be found in magical ideas of modern times - for example, when it is recommended to put amber on wives at night in order to make them confess bad deeds. In popular superstition , amber is considered a protection against evil spells and is said to drive away demons , witches and trolls .

In esotericism , amber is regarded as a healing and protective stone that takes away fears and gives zest for life. In order to develop its full effect, it must be worn on the skin for a long time without interruption. There is no scientific evidence for this.

Amber is also used by esotericists as a teething aid : An amber chain, placed around the baby's neck, makes teething easier for the child and takes away the pain. Amber is said to have anti-inflammatory effects. It is more likely that amber, by its nature, can be used as a teether when the baby puts the necklace in its mouth. Is also an aura of positive vibrations in the crystal healing mentioned that go out from the amber.

However, amber necklaces also pose a risk to small children. This can lead to strangulation through the chain itself, or broken parts of the amber can be inhaled and injure or even clog the airways.

Hypotheses on origin

The Königsberg consistorial councilor Johann Gottfried Hasse , an early advocate of the not undisputed view that amber was of vegetable origin, also dealt with methods of mummification and, through his knowledge of amber inclusions, came to the view that amber was a preservative in antiquity Role played. In a work published in 1799 he expresses his regret that this knowledge has apparently been lost and, if it were still there, "[...] one should have immortalized Frederick the Second's earthly remains for posterity [...]".

Processing and care of amber

Amber was already worked in the Stone Age . Due to its low hardness ( Mohs hardness > 2.5), this is possible without any mechanical effort.


Wet sandpaper with a grain size of 80 to 1000 is used to process amber, as well as needle files with cut 1 and 2, whiting chalk (alternative: toothpaste), denatured alcohol , water, linen or cotton cloth, chamois leather (leather cloth), a small drill and twist drill max. 1 mm), a medium-strength fretsaw (for cutting large pieces of amber) and a fishing line (for threading a chain). Care must be taken when handling the devices. The “rough stones” to be processed can best be processed on a workbench using small clamping devices.


Workplace of a jewelry maker (1965)

In the first step, the amber is filed and polished. The unwanted weathering crust is removed with a needle file or wet sandpaper with a grain size of 80 to 120. To build up the cut, circular movements are made with the amber or sandpaper. The grain size is gradually increased up to 1000. This processing requires a little patience, as the coarser sanding marks of the previous sandpaper must be sanded smooth before the next finer grit can be used. In addition, the amber should be rinsed thoroughly with water before changing the sandpaper in order not to overheat (this can cause a sticky surface) and to avoid scratches.

In the second step, the amber is subjected to polishing, the last step in grinding. For this purpose, a linen or cotton cloth is moistened with spirit and brushed with whiting chalk. With the cloth prepared in this way, the amber is polished in circular movements and then washed out under water. Finally, the amber is polished with a chamois leather.

In the third step, a hole is drilled in the amber, if desired. The drill is clamped into an electric hand drill. The speed used should be low and some practice in handling drills is beneficial not only for safety reasons. The drill must not be tilted or driven through the amber with great pressure, as amber is very sensitive to pressure and therefore the risk of breakage is very high. Should the amber break, a commercial instant glue will help.

Matt, not very shiny, dull or older amber can get a nice shine with a little furniture wax.

Another form of processing or processing is the work of the amber turner . In Germany, this specialization of the turner is only taught in one company in Ribnitz-Damgarten - the Ribnitzer Bernstein-Drechslerei GmbH.

Care and conservation

Under the influence of atmospheric oxygen and moisture, amber develops a weathering crust (through oxidation). This process, which often begins in the amber deposit (so-called earth amber usually has a strong weathering crust), continues when amber is kept as a piece of jewelry or a collector's item. To date, there is no known method with which this process could be completely prevented without causing adverse effects of another kind (e.g. restriction of the investigation possibilities when pouring into synthetic resin; risk of substances from the preservation matrix penetrating the fossil resin, etc.) . All previously known conservation methods can therefore only slow down the weathering process. For household use, it is generally sufficient to keep amber in a dark, cool and dry place. Amber jewelry should be rinsed regularly under warm running water and not placed in the sun, as amber quickly becomes brittle. In addition, neither soap, cleaning agents nor chemical substances should be used, as contact with these substances can cause irreparable damage.

Pieces of particular (scientific) value, on the other hand, should be professionally preserved. This usually requires the support of a specialist (e.g. a conservator at a natural history museum). Some common preservatives and methods are described by K. Kwiatkowski (2002).

Counterfeiting, manipulation and imitation

Amber replicas (imitations) are available in a wide variety of forms. This is especially true of Baltic amber. Most of them are replicas based on various types of synthetic resins, the properties of which have improved more and more over the course of several decades for the production of objects that have the appearance of amber. According to common usage, counterfeits are always when amber is reproduced with the intention of presenting it as natural amber or real amber and it is offered as such.

According to the law for the protection of amber , only natural amber could be designated as amber, and the labeling as amber could only be done by the first seller or the manufacturer of amber products. The law was repealed in 2006, as the intended protection was adequately guaranteed by other legal provisions, in particular the law of unfair competition .

Due to the appreciation that organic amber inclusions have been shown since time immemorial , inclusions are naturally particularly often the subject of forgeries. Fake amber inclusions are known as early as the 16th century. At that time, attempts were made to include animals such as frogs , fish or lizards as inclusions in the amber, a practice that is still common today. In 1558 Göbel reported on replicas (a frog and a lizard) that a Gdansk merchant sold to an Italian nobleman from Mantua . In 1623 the Polish King Sigismund III. Wasa , an art collector and patron, on the occasion of his visit to the city of Gdansk, received a frog enclosed in amber from the citizens of the city as a gift. The extensive collection of August II of Poland (August the Strong ) also contained numerous forgeries, mostly vertebrates or giant insects , according to an inventory published by Sendelius in 1742 (in which these were still considered authentic).

It is not always easy for science to come to a reliable result. A well-known example of this is the so-called “amber lizard from Königsberg”, which was first mentioned in writing in 1889. Later doubts about the authenticity of the piece emerged repeatedly - it was suspected that the lizard had been embedded in copal by human hands - until it was lost at the end of the Second World War. After the piece reappeared in the Geological-Paleontological Institute of the University of Göttingen at the end of the 1990s and was thoroughly examined again, its authenticity has now been confirmed. The synin clusters (in this case oak star hair ) in the piece of amber played a not inconsiderable role.

It is not uncommon for the amber itself to be counterfeited, especially for varieties of amber that are rarely found in nature due to their color, transparency or size. Apart from their burning smell and their low hardness or density, some types of amber are difficult to distinguish from appropriately colored plastics. Such replicas usually consist of materials that belong to the plastic groups of thermoplastics and thermosets . This includes substances such as celluloid , plexiglass , bakelite , bernite (Bernat) and casein . Common trade names for it include Galalith , Alalith or Lactoid . The artificial amber produced in the GDR made of polyester and pieces of amber, which was sold as poly amber , is one of these plastic replicas . Recently, amber replicas made from polyester resins have often been found on the market; natural amber that has previously been melted down is often added to the polyester resin. It is not uncommon for recent insects or spiders to be inserted into such objects, which are presented as amber inclusions. Such replicas are especially produced and sold in countries with rich amber deposits and a correspondingly extensive range of goods (Poland, Russia). Mixtures of amber and synthetic resins can sometimes be recognized by the dividing lines between the materials used, when fragments of natural amber have been inserted into the synthetic resin without melting it first.

Reconstructions made of pulverized grinding waste or small fragments of pure amber that are fused together are less easy to identify. Amber reconstructions can be sold as "real amber" because the basis is actually real amber (dust). It is also known as pressed amber .

To check whether it is in a Bernstein is an original or a fake, one can glowing needle are used. You hold this to the stone and pull it over it with a little pressure. If a groove forms and the stone becomes greasy or smells resinous while the needle remains in place, it is amber. Otherwise it is an imitation.

Alternatively, you can also use the density of the amber for the test. Amber sinks in fresh water (e.g. normal tap water) but swims in concentrated salt water. Two vessels are used, one with fresh water, one with salt water (about two tablespoons of salt to a quarter of a liter of water). Amber sinks in the first glass but floats in the second. Plastic also floats on fresh water, stones and glass sink in salt water.

The fluorescence method is also suitable for checking the authenticity of amber , since amber shines white-blue under UV light, but plastic does not.

Artificially clarified amber is not uncommon. In this process, cloudy natural amber (95% of natural amber ) is slowly heated in rapeseed or linseed oil over several days to clarify it. By cleverly controlling the temperature during the clarification process, sun shotguns, sun jumps and speed cameras , which are extremely rare in natural amber, can also be specifically produced. The old age of the stone is often simulated. During the so-called antiquing , the material is heated in an electric furnace in cleaned sand for several hours at 100 ° C to create a warm brown tone . All of these manipulations are difficult to prove.

Amber is often confused with translucent yellow flint , the surface of which is also shiny. But in contrast to light and warm amber, flint is cold and harder than glass. In order to distinguish between self-found amber and flint (with smaller splinters, the weight cannot be easily determined), one can carefully knock the stone against a tooth. If the result is a soft tone, such as that produced when you knock the tooth with your fingernail, it is not a flint.

In recent years, amber has often been replaced by the "Colombian Ambar": although this copal is only around 200 years old, it undergoes artificial aging through various processing stages. In the end product, laypeople and most specialists can no longer differentiate between old and young. According to information from Colombian copal traders, several tons per month are exported worldwide for amber jewelry processing .

Danger from resemblance to white phosphorus

White phosphorus can be confused with amber

On Usedom and in some other areas of the Baltic Sea, clumps of white phosphorus from old incendiary bombs from the Second World War are washed up in rare cases . These lumps bear some resemblance to amber. When the damp surface of the phosphor dries, it ignites on its own at body temperature, which can cause severe burns to collectors. Warning signs are therefore put up on Usedom. Inexperienced collectors are advised not to keep their finds in their trouser pockets but in a jam jar.

Exhibitions (selection)

See also


  • Karl Andrée : The amber - the amber country and its life. Kosmos, Stuttgart 1951, 95 pp. ( PDF; 14 MB ).
  • Jörn Barfod: Amber. 3rd edition, Husum Verlag, Husum 2008, ISBN 978-3-89876-179-6 .
  • Sylvia Botheroyd , Paul F. Botheroyd: The Bernstein Book. Atmospheres, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-86533-010-X .
  • Bernhard Bruder: Beautified stones. Neue Erde Verlag, Saarbrücken 1998, ISBN 3-89060-025-5 .
  • Birk Engmann: Neringas Gold - A journey through the world of amber. edition nove, Horitschon 2006, ISBN 3-902546-14-X .
  • Roland Fuhrmann: The Bitterfeld amber deposit, just one high point of the occurrence of amber (succinite) in the Tertiary of Central Germany. In: Journal of the German Society for Geosciences. Volume 156, Issue 4, pp. 517-530, Schweizerbart'sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 2005, ISSN  1860-1804 , doi: 10.1127 / 1860-1804 / 2005 / 0156-0517 .
  • Gisela Graichen , Alexander Hesse: The Amber Road. Hidden trade routes between the Baltic Sea and the Nile. Rowohlt, Reinbek 2013, ISBN 978-3-499-63005-7 .
  • Carsten Gröhn: Inclusions in Baltic amber. Wachholtz, Kiel 2015, ISBN 978-3-529-05457-0 .
  • Carsten Gröhn, Max J. Kobbert: Plants in amber. Wachholtz, Kiel 2017, ISBN 978-3-529-05458-7 .
  • Jens Grzonkowski: Amber. Ellert & Richter, Hamburg 1996, ISBN 3-89234-633-X .
  • Jens Wilhelm Janzen: Arthropods in Baltic Amber. Ampyx-Verlag, Halle, ISBN 3-932795-14-8 , p. 2002.
  • Karl Gottfried Hagen : History and administration of the Börnstein in Prussia. In: Contributions to the customer of Prussia. Volume 6, Königsberg in Prussia 1824, first section: From the time of the order to the reign of King Friedrich I. pp. 1–41 ; Second section: From Friedrich I to the present day. Pp. 177-199.
  • Karl Gottfried Hagen: History of the Börnstein graveyard in East Prussia and especially that organized in a mining manner. In addition to a plan and saw plan of the Börnstein graveyard in Gr. Nod. In: Contributions to the customer of Prussia. Volume 6, Königsberg in Prussia 1824, pp. 200-227.
  • Max J. Kobbert : Bernstein - window into prehistoric times. Planet Poster Editions, Göttingen 2005, ISBN 3-933922-95-X .
  • Sven Gisle Larsson: Baltic Amber - A Palaeobiological Study. Klampenborg 1978, ISBN 978-87-87491-16-7 .
  • JM de Navarro: Prehistoric Routes between Northern Europe and Italy defined by the Amber Trade. In: The Geographical Journal. Royal Geographical Society, London December 1925, Volume 66, No. 6, pp. 481-503, ISSN  0016-7398 , JSTOR 1783003 , doi: 10.2307 / 1783003 .
  • George O. Poinar, Junior: Life in Amber. Stanford University Press, Stanford (Cal.) 1992, ISBN 0-8047-2001-0 , limited preview in Google Book Search.
  • Dieter Quast, Michael Erdlich: The Amber Road . Theiss, Stuttgart 2013, ISBN 978-3-8062-2708-6 .
  • Jochen Rascher, Roland Wimmer, Günter Krumbiegel, Sybille Schmiedel (eds.): Bitterfeld amber versus Baltic amber - hypotheses, facts, questions - II September 2008 in Bitterfeld (= excursion guide and publications of the German Society for Geosciences. (EDDG) Volume 236). Mecke, Duderstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-936617-86-3 .
  • Gisela Reineking von Bock: Bernstein. Callwey, Munich 1981, ISBN 3-7667-0557-1 , 185 pages, 299 figs.
  • Wilfried Seipel (Hrsg.): Bernstein for throne and altar. The gold of the sea in princely art and treasure chambers (= exhibition catalog, October 5, 2005 to January 29, 2006, edited by Sabine Haag and Georg Laue). Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-85497-095-1 .
  • Wilfried Wichard, Carsten Gröhn, Fabian Seredszus: Aquatic Insects in Baltic Amber. Kessel, Remagen-Oberwinter 2009, ISBN 978-3-941300-10-1 ( reading sample as PDF; 483 kB ).
  • Wilfried Wichard, Wolfgang Weitschat : In the amber forest. Gerstenberg, Hildesheim 2004/2005 , ISBN 3-8067-2551-9 .
  • Wilfried Wichard, Wolfgang Weitschat: Atlas of the plants and animals in the Baltic amber. Publishing house Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munich 1998, ISBN 978-3-931516-45-1 .
  • Wilfried Wichard: Taphozoenoses in Baltic amber. In: Denisia. Volume 26, Neue Serie 86, pp. 257–266, Linz 2009 PDF (1.8 MB) on ZOBODAT .
  • Alexander P. Wolfe, Ralf Tappert, Karlis Muehlenbachs, Marc Boudreau, Ryan C. McKellar, James F. Basinger, Amber Garrett: A new proposal concerning the botanical origin of Baltic amber . In: Proceedings of the Royal Society . October 7, 2009, Volume 276, No. 1672 pp. 3403-3412, doi: 10.1098 / rspb.2009.0806 .
  • Jörg Wunderlich (Ed.): Fossil spiders in amber and copal. 2 volumes, J. Wunderlich, Hirschberg-Leutershausen 2004, ISBN 3-931473-10-4 (only available from the author).
  • Fabian Seredszus: Water insects of the Baltic amber with special consideration of the chironomids . Basics for understanding aquatic habitats and communities in the Eocene amber forest. Inaugural dissertation, University of Cologne, 2003, ( online as a PDF, 5.77 MB ) On: , accessed on February 24 2017th
  • IA Polyakova, Ch. J. Duffin, TJ Suvorova (Eds.): Amber in the history of medicine - Proceedings of the International Conference . Kaliningrad Regional Amber Museum, Kaliningrad 2016, ISBN 978-5-903920-43-3 .
  • NDL Clark: Mythos Bernstein Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-534-24658-8 .
  • M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.): Bernstein - Tears of the Gods, exhibition in the German Mining Museum Bochum September 15, 1996 to January 19, 1997. Verlag Glückauf, Essen 1997, ISBN 3-7739-0665-X .

Web links

Wikisource: Bernstein  - Sources and full texts
Wiktionary: Bernstein  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Bernstein  - collection of images, videos and audio files

For further reading



(Selection; natural history exhibitions and outstanding art objects; some in connection with commercial offers)

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Roland Fuhrmann, Rolf Borsdorf: The types of amber of the Lower Miocene of Bitterfeld. In: Journal of Applied Geology . Volume 32, Berlin 1986, pp. 309-316, PDF .
  2. Barbara Kosmowska-Ceranowicz: Comparison of selected types of amber and their properties from different geographical regions. In: Excursion guide and publications of the German Society for Geosciences . Issue 236, Duderstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-936617-86-3 , pp. 61-68.
  3. a b c Günter Krumbiegel , Brigitte Krumbiegel: Bernstein. Fossil resins from all over the world. 3rd edition, Wiebelsheim 2005, ISBN 3-494-01400-0 , pp. 1-112.
  4. ^ Friedrich L. Weigand: German Dictionary. First volume: A – K , 5th edition, De Gruyter, 1969, ISBN 978-3-11-081798-0 (reprint), p. 208, limited preview in the Google book search.
  5. Etymological dictionary of the German language . 22nd edition, 1989, p. 76 (Bernstein), limited preview in the Google book search.
  6. Albert L. Lloyd, Otto Springer, Rosemarie Lühr: Etymological Dictionary of Old High German. Volume 2, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998, ISBN 3-525-20768-9 , p. 319 (Brennstein), 469, limited preview in the Google book search
  7. Eckhard Meineke: Bernstein in Old High German. With studies on the glossary Rb. Göttingen 1984 (= Studies on Old High German. 6), ISBN 978-3-525-20320-0 , doi: 10.13109 / 9783666203206 .
  8. .
  9. u. a. Karl Wessely : About amber in its cultural and historical significance. - Lecture given on February 19, 1913. In: Writings of the Association for the Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge. Volume 53, Vienna 1913 (with numerous information from ancient sources), PDF (1.4 MB) on ZOBODAT
  10. Publius Cornelius Tacitus: Die Germania, Chapter 45. on .
  11. One of several writing variants is glaesum , which also appears in other authors such as Pliny ( Naturalis historia ); they are actually Latinized forms of a Germanic word to be reconstructed * glǣsa- .
  12. a b c d Karl Andrée: Amber and its significance in the natural sciences and humanities, art and applied arts, technology, industry and trade. In addition to a short guide through the amber collection of the Albertus University. Graefe and Unzer, Königsberg Pr. 1937, OCLC 20042790 , pp. 1-219.
  13. Bernstein in various languages ​​and notes on etymology (English).
  14. Alexander Tschirch : The resins. The botanical and chemical basics of our knowledge of the formation, development and composition of plant excreta. Volume 2 1st half, 3rd edition, Bornträger, Berlin 1935, pp. XII and 1-471.
  15. ^ Richard Klebs: List and catalog of the Bernstein Museum by Stantien & Becker, Königsberg i. Pr. With a short history of amber. Hartung, Koenigsberg 1889, OCLC 525013502 , pp. 1-103.
  16. ^ Karl Andrée: The amber. The amber land and its life. Kosmos-Bändchen 192, Stuttgart 1951, OCLC 9106166 , pp. 1-96.
  17. a b Barbara Kosmowska-Ceranowicz: Amber - the deposit and its formation. In: M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.): Bernstein - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, ISBN 3-921533-57-0 , pp. 161-168.
  18. Barbara Kosmowska-Ceranowicz, Günter Krumbiegel: Geology and history of Bitterfeld amber and other fossil resins. In: Hallesches Jahrbuch für Geoswissenschaften. Volume 14, Gotha 1989, pp. 1-25.
  19. ^ Günter Krumbiegel: Amber (succinite) - The Bitterfeld deposit. In: M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.): Bernstein - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, ISBN 3-921533-57-0 , pp. 89-110.
  20. Günter Krumbiegel, Barbara Kosmowska-Ceranowicz: The types of bitter fields amber. In: Bitterfeld Heimatblätter. Special issue, 2007, pp. 43–64.
  21. a b c d e f Roland Fuhrmann: The Bitterfeld types of amber. In: Mauritiana. Volume 21, Altenburg 2010, pp. 13-58, PDF .
  22. a b Heinrich Schnee (Ed.): German Colonial Lexicon. Volume 2, Leipzig 1920, p. 361 ( ).
  23. Richard Klebs: The commercial types of amber. In: Yearbook of the Royal Prussian State Institute and Bergakademie zu Berlin. Born in 1882, Berlin 1883, pp. 404–435.
  24. Michael Ganzelewski: Preparation and processing of amber in Samland until 1945. In: M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.) Bernstein - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, ISBN 3-921533-57-0 , pp. 215-235.
  25. Amber (fossil resin). Retrieved April 15, 2016 .
  26. a b Roland Fuhrmann: Origin, discovery and exploration of the Bitterfeld amber deposit. In: Excursion guides and publications of the Society for Geosciences e. V. No. 224, Berlin 2004, pp. 25-37, PDF .
  27. Curt W. Beck: To determine the origin of amber. In: M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.): Bernstein - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, ISBN 3-921533-57-0 , pp. 59-61.
  28. J. Grzonkowski: Bernstein . Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-89234-633-X .
  29. z. B. severely weathered succinite .
  30. Norbert Vavra: Amber and other fossil resins. In: Journal of the German Gemmological Society . Volume 31, Idar-Oberstein 1982.
  31. ^ JH Langenheim: Present Status of Botanical Studies of Ambers. In: Bot. Mus. Leaflets Harvard Univ. Volume 20, Number 8, Cambridge 1987, pp. 225-287, here: pp. 281-287, JSTOR 41762234 .
  32. Ken B. Anderson, John C. Crelling: Amber, Resinite, and Fossil Resins. In: ACS Symposium. Series 617, Washington DC 1995, ISBN 978-0-8412-3336-2 .
  33. Christoph Lühr: Characterization and Classification of Fossil Resins - Dissertation, 2004 (University of Duisburg-Essen, Campus Duisburg), (PDF; 6.81 MB), on, accessed on February 3, 2017 .
  34. a b Dieter Hans Mai, Wilfried Schneider: About an ancient conifer in the Young Tertiary and its importance for brown coal and amber formation. In: Feddes Repetitorium. Volume 99, Berlin 1988, pp. 101-112.
  35. a b c Gerda Standke: Bitterfeld amber equals Baltic amber? A geological space-time consideration and genetic conclusions. In: Excursion guide and publications of the German Society for Geosciences. Issue 236, Duderstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-936617-86-3 , pp. 11–33.
  36. a b Siegfried Ritzkowski: K-Ar age determination of the amber-bearing sediments of the Samland (Palaeogene, Kaliningrad district). In: Metalla (special issue). Volume 66, Bochum 1997, pp. 19-23.
  37. a b c Roland Fuhrmann: The Bitterfeld amber deposit, just one high point of the occurrence of amber (succinite) in the tertiary Central Germany. In: Journal of the German Society for Geosciences. Volume 156, Stuttgart 2005, ISSN  1860-1804 , pp. 517-530, (PDF; 30 kB).
  38. ^ W. Wetzel: Miocene amber in the West Baltic. In: Journal of the German Geological Society . Volume 91, Berlin 1939, pp. 815-822.
  39. Wilfrid Sauer: Amber in the Lausitz. In: M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.): Bernstein - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, ISBN 3-921533-57-0 , pp. 133-138.
  40. Wolfgang Weitschat: Bitterfeld and Baltic amber from a paleoclimatic and paleontological point of view. In: Excursion guide and publications of the German Society for Geosciences. Issue 236, Duderstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-936617-86-3 , pp. 88-97.
  41. a b c Roland Fuhrmann: The bitter fields amber - its origin and genesis. In: Mauritiana. Volume 20, Altenburg 2008, ISSN  0233-173X , pp. 207-228, PDF .
  42. ^ Axel Lietzow, Siegfried Ritzkowski: Fossil resins in the brown coal-bearing layers of Helmstedt (Paleocene - Eocene, SE Lower Saxony). In: M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.): Bernstein - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, ISBN 3-921533-57-0 , pp. 83-88.
  43. ^ Günter Krumbiegel: Fossil resins from Geiseltal lignite and from the Königsaue opencast mine (Saxony-Anhalt). In: Hallesches Jahrbuch für Geoswissenschaften. Volume B 17, Halle 1995, pp. 139-148.
  44. ^ Gerda Standke, Dieter Escher, Joachim Fischer, Jochen Rascher: The Tertiary Northwest Saxony. A geological overview. Brochure Sächsisches Landesamt für Umwelt, Landwirtschaft und Geologie, Dresden 2010, p. 129, online (PDF; 5.54 MB), on, accessed on February 3, 2017.
  45. Werner Schulz: The natural distribution of Baltic amber and the amber deposits of Stubbenfelde (Usedom). In: Journal of Applied Geology. Volume 6, Berlin 1960, pp. 610-614.
  46. Ludwig Meyn: The amber of the north German plain on the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth deposit. In: Journal of the German Geological Society. Volume 28, Stuttgart 1876, pp. 172-198.
  47. ^ J. Johnston: Middletonite, a new mineral of organic origin. In: Journal for practical chemistry. Year 1838, 1st volume, Leipzig 1838, pp. 436–438, doi: 10.1002 / prac.18380130170 .
  48. Manuel A. Iturralde-Vennet: Geology of the Amber-Bearing Deposits of the Greater Antilles. In: Caribbean Journal of Science. 2001, pp. 141-167.
  49. ^ A. Ross: Amber - The Natural Time Capsule. London 2009, ISBN 978-0-565-09258-0 .
  50. Dieter Schlee u. a .: Giant amber in Sarawak, North Borneo. In: Lapis Mineralien Magazin. Volume 17, No. 9, 1992, pp. 13-23.
  51. ^ David A. Grimaldi: Amber Window to the Past. New York 1996, ISBN 978-0-8109-2652-3 .
  52. August Breithaupt: Brief description of the mineral system. Freiberg / Sachsen 1820, p. 75, limited preview in the Google book search.
  53. Heinrich Robert Göppert, Georg Carl Berendt: The amber and the plant remains of the prehistoric world located in it. In: GC Berendt (Ed.): The organic remains of the prehistoric world in amber. Volume 1, Department 1, Berlin 1845, pp. 1–125, limited preview in the Google book search.
  54. ^ A b Hugo Conwentz: Monograph of the Baltic amber trees. Comparative studies on the organs of vegetation and flowers, as well as on the resin and the diseases of the Baltic amber trees. Danzig 1890, pp. 1–151, online (PDF; 37.44 MB), at, accessed on February 3, 2017.
  55. Kurt Schubert: New studies on the structure and life of the amber pines (Pinus succinifera (Conw.) Emend.). A contribution to the paleohistology of plants. In: Supplements to the Geological Yearbook. Issue 45, Hannover 1961, ISBN 978-3-510-96802-2 , pp. 1–149.
  56. ^ JH Langenheim: Amber - a Botanical Inquiry. In: Science . Volume 163, No. 3872, Washington 1969, pp. 1157-1169, doi: 10.1126 / science.163.3872.1157 .
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  58. Alexander P. Wolfe et al. a .: A new proposal concerning the botanical origin of Baltic amber. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Volume 276, London 2009, pp. 3403-3412, doi: 10.1098 / rspb.2009.0806 .
  59. a b Gerd Weisgerber : Prehistoric and early historical use of amber. In: M. Ganzelewski, R. Slotta (Ed.): Bernstein - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, ISBN 3-921533-57-0 , pp. 413-426.
  60. ^ Roland Fuhrmann: The amber forest in Tertiary Central Germany - alluvial forest versus swamp forest. In: Mauritiana. Volume 22, Altenburg 2011, ISSN  0233-173X , pp. 61-76, PDF .
  61. ^ I. S. Vassilishin & V. I. Pantschenko: Amber in the Ukraine. In: Amber - Tears of the Gods. Bochum 1996, pp. 333-340.
  62. Lisa Takler: Volatile compounds and antimicrobial effects of selected resins and balms from A – J. Diploma thesis, Univers. Vienna, 2015, p. 41, online . (PDF; 3.18 MB), from, accessed on November 1, 2016.
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  64. Manfred Rech: Studies on depot finds of the funnel cup and individual grave culture of the north. Offa books, Volume 39, Neumünster 1979, ISBN 978-3-529-01139-9 , pp. 127-130.
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  66. Gisela Graichen, Alexander Hesse: The Amber Road: Hidden trade routes between the Baltic Sea and the Nile. Rowohlt, 2012, ISBN 978-3-644-02241-6 .
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This version was added to the list of excellent articles on April 23, 2005 .