The Amber Road - Part 2: The Dark Caravan
Amber: a stone that floats and burns and conserves several million years of life. Actually not a stone but a gemstone, amber has always fascinated mighty rulers. Roman Emperor Nero was obsessed with “the gold of the North” using thousands of pieces of amber to turn the gladiator games into a sparkling event for one day. And Frederick I of Prussia made himself a truly superb present, when he let craftsmen construct the Amber Room which is considered one of the most valuable treasures of art in the world. It was so strongly admired by Peter the Great that Frederick finally gave the original inlaid amber panels to the Russian Tsar. However, royals longed for the fossilized resin credited with magical powers much earlier already. During his excavations at the burial place of the Mycenaean kings, German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann did not only discover a large gold treasure, but also amber. In the tomb of Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun and in the Royal Hypogeum of Qatna antique amber objects were found as well. But how did the amber make its way into these late-Bronze tombs? Is it possible that it was transported thousands of kilometers from the Baltic Sea to Syria, Greece and even to Egypt’s pharaohs more than 3,000 years ago? In fact, there must have been a trade route connecting the two ends of the world as it was known at that time. An ancient route leading from the Nile River up to the stormy shores of misty gods far away in the North. Did it really exist?