What is amber?

What is amber?

Amber is fossilized resin of coniferous trees. Resin provides the tree protection against insects and fungi. It is a sticky substance that entangled and eventually get locked easily insects or plant debris. The resin may harden once it is sealed from air. This hardening, where thousands of years is over, is called fossilization. After a few thousands of years, there arises half fossilized resin which is also called Kopal (or Copal). Unlike succinic these documents contain embedded oils. If the resin is completely cured and there is no liquid portions are longer in talks with amber.

Origin of Amber

Most, later hardened amber resin produced by pine trees in Scandinavia in the Eocene era (which lasted from 55.8 to 33.9 million years ago). There was then a relatively mild climate and the Scandinavian region was characterized by vast pine forests.

About 35 million years ago began rising sea levels and eroded the amber from the Scandinavian forest floor. The forerunners of the Baltic rivers took the amber and put it off to the south located estuaries. Later, the amber is eroded again and again carried away by the river 'Eridanos "the forerunner of the current German rivers' Weser', 'Ems' and' Elbe '. Finally, the Scandinavian ice sheets spread the amber on the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. Even up in the Netherlands can thus pieces of amber washed up on the beach.

People and amber

The Greeks and Romans already understood how amber was formed. The Greek philosopher Aristotle described as amber 'succinum' or 'sapsteen. In the Middle Ages all this knowledge was lost again and kept it more specific ideas about amber after. Thus amber solidified its petroleum from the sea or even solidified foam whales. It was back to 1757 before the Russian scientist Lomonossow obsolete the origin of amber.

Various types of amber

The most common Baltic amber is known: Baltic amber or succiniet.Deze pieces are formed by conifer Pinus succinifera. Other conifers admittedly also delivered amber, but often in a much smaller amount. The best known examples are:

  • pale yellow and translucent genadiet
  • dull black and opaque stantaniet
  • beck brown cane

The main difference is that these types succiniet contain less succinic acids and therefore softer and easier to break.


Organic semi-precious stone

Because amber is fossilized resin, belongs together with pearls and coral of the few organic gemstones. One is, therefore, still must not be considered to be off or succinic as a mineral (without crystal structure) or as a fossil. The name amber is derived from the German word Bernstein derived from the Lower Saxon word Bornen "that" light up "means. Succinic consists of organic compounds of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. This means that amber is flammable.

Inclusions in amber

The best thing about amber is surely the enclosed wildlife. Mostly insects, spiders and plant remains trapped in the resin when it was soft and sticky. What is unique about these fossils is the condition in which they were stored. Unlike other fossils are hereby also seen the soft parts. Despite retrieve the fossils are discolored, the science is still very much information from the stones of the era in which the resin is formed. A piece of succinic can therefore be seen as a time in which the capsule in time has stood still for millions of years.


Succinic has the unique tend to be statically charged by friction. The Greeks gave early name 'electron' (ηλεκτρον) to amber later where our word is derived electricity. They found that the stone pieces attracted papyrus and feathers after it was rubbed in line with a woolen cloth. This has long been regarded as something magical. It was therefore believed that amber containing its own soul.

Amber and Spirituality

By have over the centuries many peoples amber considered very spiritual stone. So wore gladiators in Roman arenas amber with him for luck during the fighting and was the Celtic sun god 'Ambres' named after the English word for amber, 'Amber'. Even in the current time is amber still seen as a healing stone in the negative takes away from the body. Wearing amber promotes good mood and reduces depression feeling.

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