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THE AMBER THEME IN WRITTEN SOURCES FROM ANTIQUITY

Evidence of the fact that there was an interest in the Baltic sea shore from the times of Antiquity lies in mentions of where amber was found.

Homer's Odyssey (8th-7th century BC) mentions amber as a luxury object that was imported from faraway lands and used to decorate palaces and to produce jewellery.

The Roman geographer and historian Strabo (63 BC-17 AD) wrote in his treatises that amber was brought together with tin from Brittany and other luxury items.

Diodorus of Sicily (second half-first quarter of the 1st century BC) wrote about the island of Basilia in his treatise Bibliotheca historica that was north of Scythia, beyond Gallia, and where locals would collect the amber thrown out by the sea, and presented a location on the continent from where amber would reach the Roman Empire.

The Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus (55-120) in his Germania was the first to describe the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea and the Aistian tribes that lived there (Aestiorum gentes).

In the opinion of researchers, Tacitus called the communities that lived on the shores of the Sambian Peninsula Aistians. They do not dismiss the possibility that this name could have been applied to all the Baltic Sea tribes that spoke in Aistian dialects.

In volume 37 of the treatise by Plinius the Elder (23-79), Historia naturalis, when discussing the origins of amber, he mentions a rider sent by Emperor Nero who had to return with amber that was to be used to decorate the gladiators' battles.

This envoy, who had travelled 600 Roman miles from Karnuntum, returned with so much amber that on the battle days the whole amphitheatre, the gladiators and servants were decorated with amber, while the largest piece of amber he returned with weighed as much as 13 pounds (4.2 kg).

(Source: Lithuanian Art Museum, pgm.lt)