For Centuries amber has been revered and admired by civilizations from the four corners of the earth. The earliest known use of amber in jewellery dates back before 6000 BCE. Pendants with carved human figures and animal shaped hunting amulets have been found in Denmark from that period.
Sometime between 54 and 60C.E. Roman Emperor Nero sent an army officer to search for the source of this precious substance. Travelling northward, he found it...the Baltic Coast...and returned with hundreds of pounds of amber. In Rome amber was valued for its beauty and its supposed ability to protect its bearer from harm. It was also an ingredient in medicines and ointments. Roman historian Pliny reported that amber was so popular that a carved amber figurine was valued more highly than a healthy slave!
The earliest civilizations of northern Europe used amber, sometimes called the gold of the north, to barter for iron, copper, and other goods from the south. During the Middle Ages, in Europe trade in and the manufacture of amber were strictly controlled by the Teutonic Knights, who had recently returned from the Crusades. Unauthorized collecting of amber was punishable by death.
Meanwhile, on the Caribbean island of Quisqueya, now the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the Taino Indians had also discovered amber. When Columbus first visited Quisqueya in 1492, he presented a young island chief with a strand of shiny amber beads. It has been said that Columbus was surprised when he received in return footwear decorated with amber beads!
Amber History general facts;
Amber Time Line
& Cultural history time line;