The First Records of Amber in the Written Sources of Antique period
Blue soil with a stuck amber
Antique authors had much interest in amber findings at the Baltic coast. Even in Homer poem ‘The Odyssey’ amber is considered as a luxury item brought from overseas, used for decoration of the mansion and manufacturing of the jewellery. Subsequently, Roman geographer and historian Strabo (63 BC – 17 AD) claimed in his writings that amber was transported along with the British tin and other luxury items.
Diodorus of Sicily (90 – 30 BC) in his monumental universal history Bibliotheca Historica described the island of Basil, which lies to the North of Scinia beyond Gaul, where locals collected amber, delivered it to a neighbouring regions, and from there amber was transported to The Roman Empire. Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus (55 – 120 AD) was the first who described the Eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and tribes living there – Aestiorum gentes – in his work Germania. Researchers anticipate that Tacitus indicated Aestiorum gentes as tribes established in the coast of Samland. The theory suggests that the name Aestiorum gentes could have been used for all Aestian dialects speaking tribes on the coast of the Baltic Sea, and this theory is not refused.
Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD) in his encyclopaedic work Naturalis Historia mentions raider Julian sent by Emperor Nero to bring some amber for decorating the combats of gladiators. This envoy travelled 600 Roman miles from Carnuntum (current Petronell) and brought tons of amber to the Emperor. On the festive days all amphitheatre, gladiators, even servants were decorated with amber. The largest piece of amber weighed 13 pounds (4.2 kg).