Amber

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Pendants made of amber. The oval pendant is 52 by 32 mm (2 by 1 /4 in). Amber.pendants.800pix.050203.jpg
Pendants made of amber. The oval pendant is 52 by 32 mm (2 by 1 4 in).
An ant inside Baltic amber Amber2.jpg
An ant inside Baltic amber
A mosquito in amber Ambre Dominique Moustique.jpg
A mosquito in amber
The Amber Room was reconstructed using new amber from Kaliningrad Bernsteinzimmer01.jpg
The Amber Room was reconstructed using new amber from Kaliningrad
National Archaeological Museum of Siritide to Matera Herakleia Museo Nazionale Della Siritide Jewellery.jpg
National Archaeological Museum of Siritide to Matera
An amber violin bow frog, made by Keith Peck in 1996/97. K.Peck amber bow.jpeg
An amber violin bow frog, made by Keith Peck in 1996/97.
Unpolished amber stones Amber Bernstein many stones.jpg
Unpolished amber stones
Wood resin, the source of amber Gouttes-drops-resine-2.jpg
Wood resin, the source of amber
Extracting Baltic amber from Holocene deposits, Gdansk, Poland Amber miners2.jpg
Extracting Baltic amber from Holocene deposits, Gdansk, Poland
Unique colors of Baltic amber. Polished stones. Colours of Baltic Amber.jpg
Unique colors of Baltic amber. Polished stones.
Fishing for amber on the coast of Baltic Sea. Winter storms throw out amber nuggets. Close to Gdansk, Poland. Amber Fisher.jpg
Fishing for amber on the coast of Baltic Sea. Winter storms throw out amber nuggets. Close to Gdansk, Poland.

Amber is fossilized tree resin, which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. [2] Much valued from antiquity to the present as a gemstone, amber is made into a variety of decorative objects. [3] Amber is used in jewelry. It has also been used as a healing agent in folk medicine.

Fossil Preserved remains or traces of organisms from a past geological age

A fossil is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of animals or microbes, objects preserved in amber, hair, petrified wood, oil, coal, and DNA remnants. The totality of fossils is known as the fossil record.

Resin solid or highly viscous substance of plant or synthetic origin

In polymer chemistry and materials science, resin is a solid or highly viscous substance of plant or synthetic origin that is typically convertible into polymers. Resins are usually mixtures of organic compounds. This article focuses on naturally-occurring resins.

The Neolithic, the final division of the Stone Age, began about 12,000 years ago when the first development of farming appeared in the Epipalaeolithic Near East, and later in other parts of the world. The division lasted until the transitional period of the Chalcolithic from about 6,500 years ago, marked by the development of metallurgy, leading up to the Bronze Age and Iron Age. In Northern Europe, the Neolithic lasted until about 1700 BC, while in China it extended until 1200 BC. Other parts of the world remained broadly in the Neolithic stage of development, although this term may not be used, until European contact.

Contents

There are five classes of amber, defined on the basis of their chemical constituents. Because it originates as a soft, sticky tree resin, amber sometimes contains animal and plant material as inclusions. [4] Amber occurring in coal seams is also called resinite, and the term ambrite is applied to that found specifically within New Zealand coal seams. [5]

Inclusion (mineral) inclusions in minerals

In mineralogy, an inclusion is any material that is trapped inside a mineral during its formation.

New Zealand Constitutional monarchy in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Etymology

The English word amber derives from Arabic ʿanbarعنبر [6] (cognate with Middle Persian ambar [7] ) via Middle Latin ambar and Middle French ambre. The word was adopted in Middle English in the 14th century as referring to what is now known as ambergris (ambre gris or "grey amber"), a solid waxy substance derived from the sperm whale. In the Romance languages, the sense of the word had come to be extended to Baltic amber (fossil resin) from as early as the late 13th century. At first called white or yellow amber (ambre jaune), this meaning was adopted in English by the early 15th century. As the use of ambergris waned, this became the main sense of the word. [6]

Arabic Central Semitic language

Arabical-ʻarabiyyah[alʕaraˈbijːa](listen) or ʻarabī[ˈʕarabiː](listen) or Arabic pronunciation: [ʕaraˈbij]) is a Central Semitic language that first emerged in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. It is named after the Arabs, a term initially used to describe peoples living in the area bounded by Mesopotamia in the east and the Anti-Lebanon mountains in the west, in northwestern Arabia, and in the Sinai Peninsula. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form, Modern Standard Arabic, which is derived from Classical Arabic.

Middle Persian also known as Pahlavi or Parsik, is the Middle Iranian language or ethnolect of southwestern Iran that during the Sasanian Empire (224–654) became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions of the empire as well. Middle Persian is classified as a Western Iranian language. It descends from Old Persian and is the linguistic ancestor of Modern Persian.

Middle French is a historical division of the French language that covers the period from the 14th to the early 17th centuries. It is a period of transition during which:

The two substances ("yellow amber" and "grey amber") conceivably became associated or confused because they both were found washed up on beaches. Ambergris is less dense than water and floats, whereas amber is too dense to float, though less dense than stone. [8]

The classical names for amber, Latin electrum and Ancient Greek ἤλεκτρον (ēlektron), are connected to a term ἠλέκτωρ (ēlektōr) meaning "beaming Sun". [9] [10] According to myth, when Phaëton son of Helios (the Sun) was killed, his mourning sisters became poplar trees, and their tears became elektron, amber. [11] The word elektron gave rise to the words electric, electricity, and their relatives because of amber's ability to bear a static electricity charge. [12]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets, and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Ancient Greek Version of the Greek language used from roughly the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE

The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is often roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, and Hellenistic period. It is antedated in the second millennium BCE by Mycenaean Greek and succeeded by medieval Greek.

Sun Star at the centre of the Solar System

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.

History

Theophrastus discussed amber in the 4th century BC, as did Pytheas (c. 330 BC), whose work "On the Ocean" is lost, but was referenced by Pliny the Elder (23 to 79 AD), according to whose The Natural History (in what is also the earliest known mention of the name Germania ): [13]

Theophrastus ancient greek philosopher

Theophrastus, a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death, he attached himself to Aristotle who took to Theophrastus his writings. When Aristotle fled Athens, Theophrastus took over as head of the Lyceum. Theophrastus presided over the Peripatetic school for thirty-six years, during which time the school flourished greatly. He is often considered the father of botany for his works on plants. After his death, the Athenians honoured him with a public funeral. His successor as head of the school was Strato of Lampsacus.

Pytheas Ancient Greek explorer

Pytheas of Massalia was a Greek geographer and explorer from the Greek colony of Massalia. He made a voyage of exploration to northwestern Europe in about 325 BC, but his account of it, known widely in Antiquity, has not survived and is now known only through the writings of others.

Pliny the Elder Roman military commander and writer

Pliny the Elder was a Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher, a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and friend of emperor Vespasian.

Pytheas says that the Gutones, a people of Germany, inhabit the shores of an estuary of the Ocean called Mentonomon, their territory extending a distance of six thousand stadia; that, at one day's sail from this territory, is the Isle of Abalus, upon the shores of which, amber is thrown up by the waves in spring, it being an excretion of the sea in a concrete form; as, also, that the inhabitants use this amber by way of fuel, and sell it to their neighbors, the Teutones.

Earlier [14] Pliny says that Pytheas refers to a large island - three days' sail from the Scythian coast and called Balcia by Xenophon of Lampsacus (author of a fanciful travel book in Greek) - as Basilia - a name generally equated with Abalus. Given the presence of amber, the island could have been Heligoland, Zealand, the shores of Bay of Gdansk, the Sambia Peninsula or the Curonian Lagoon, which were historically the richest sources of amber in northern Europe.[ citation needed ] It is assumed[ by whom? ] that there were well-established trade routes for amber connecting the Baltic with the Mediterranean (known as the "Amber Road"). Pliny states explicitly that the Germans exported amber to Pannonia, from where the Veneti distributed it onwards.

The ancient Italic peoples of southern Italy used to work amber; the National Archaeological Museum of Siritide (Museo Archeologico Nazionale della Siritide) at Policoro in the province of Matera (Basilicata) displays important surviving examples. Amber used in antiquity as at Mycenae and in the prehistory of the Mediterranean comes from deposits of Sicily.[ citation needed ]

Pliny also cites the opinion of Nicias (c. 470–413 BC), according to whom amber

is a liquid produced by the rays of the sun; and that these rays, at the moment of the sun's setting, striking with the greatest force upon the surface of the soil, leave upon it an unctuous sweat, which is carried off by the tides of the Ocean, and thrown up upon the shores of Germany.

Besides the fanciful explanations according to which amber is "produced by the Sun", Pliny cites opinions that are well aware of its origin in tree resin, citing the native Latin name of succinum (sūcinum, from sucus "juice"). [15] In Book 37, section XI of Natural History , Pliny wrote:

Amber is produced from a marrow discharged by trees belonging to the pine genus, like gum from the cherry, and resin from the ordinary pine. It is a liquid at first, which issues forth in considerable quantities, and is gradually hardened [...] Our forefathers, too, were of opinion that it is the juice of a tree, and for this reason gave it the name of "succinum" and one great proof that it is the produce of a tree of the pine genus, is the fact that it emits a pine-like smell when rubbed, and that it burns, when ignited, with the odour and appearance of torch-pine wood. [16]

He also states that amber is also found in Egypt and in India, and he even refers to the electrostatic properties of amber, by saying that "in Syria the women make the whorls of their spindles of this substance, and give it the name of harpax [from ἁρπάζω, "to drag"] from the circumstance that it attracts leaves towards it, chaff, and the light fringe of tissues".

Pliny says that the German name of amber was glæsum , "for which reason the Romans, when Germanicus Caesar commanded the fleet in those parts, gave to one of these islands the name of Glæsaria, which by the barbarians was known as Austeravia". This is confirmed by the recorded Old High German word glas and by the Old English word glær for "amber" (compare glass ). In Middle Low German, amber was known as berne-, barn-, börnstēn (with etymological roots related to "burn" and to "stone" [17] ). The Low German term became dominant also in High German by the 18th century, thus modern German Bernstein besides Dutch barnsteen.

In the Baltic languages, the Lithuanian term for amber is gintaras and the Latvian dzintars. These words, and the Slavic jantar [18] and Hungarian gyanta ('resin'), are thought[ by whom? ] to originate from Phoenician jainitar ("sea-resin").[ citation needed ]

Early in the nineteenth century, the first reports of amber found in North America came from discoveries in New Jersey along Crosswicks Creek near Trenton, at Camden, and near Woodbury. [3]

Composition and formation

Amber is heterogeneous in composition, but consists of several resinous bodies more or less soluble in alcohol, ether and chloroform, associated with an insoluble bituminous substance. Amber is a macromolecule by free radical polymerization of several precursors in the labdane family, e.g. communic acid, cummunol, and biformene. [19] [20] These labdanes are diterpenes (C20H32) and trienes, equipping the organic skeleton with three alkene groups for polymerization. As amber matures over the years, more polymerization takes place as well as isomerization reactions, crosslinking and cyclization.

Heated above 200 °C (392 °F), amber decomposes, yielding an oil of amber, and leaves a black residue which is known as "amber colophony", or "amber pitch"; when dissolved in oil of turpentine or in linseed oil this forms "amber varnish" or "amber lac". [19]

Formation

Molecular polymerization, resulting from high pressures and temperatures produced by overlying sediment, transforms the resin first into copal. Sustained heat and pressure drives off terpenes and results in the formation of amber. [21]

For this to happen, the resin must be resistant to decay. Many trees produce resin, but in the majority of cases this deposit is broken down by physical and biological processes. Exposure to sunlight, rain, microorganisms (such as bacteria and fungi), and extreme temperatures tends to disintegrate the resin. For the resin to survive long enough to become amber, it must be resistant to such forces or be produced under conditions that exclude them. [22]

Botanical origin

Amber from Bitterfeld Bernstein Bitterfeld, Gedanit, Bruchstucke 5658.jpg
Amber from Bitterfeld

Fossil resins from Europe fall into two categories, the famous Baltic ambers and another that resembles the Agathis group. Fossil resins from the Americas and Africa are closely related to the modern genus Hymenaea , [23] while Baltic ambers are thought to be fossil resins from Sciadopityaceae family plants that used to live in north Europe. [24]

Physical attributes

Most amber has a hardness between 2.0 and 2.5 on the Mohs scale, a refractive index of 1.5–1.6, a specific gravity between 1.06 and 1.10, and a melting point of 250–300°C. [25]

Inclusions

Baltic amber with inclusions Baltic-amber-fossils-inclusions.jpg
Baltic amber with inclusions

The abnormal development of resin in living trees (succinosis) can result in the formation of amber. [26] Impurities are quite often present, especially when the resin dropped onto the ground, so the material may be useless except for varnish-making. Such impure amber is called firniss.

Such inclusion of other substances can cause amber to have an unexpected color. Pyrites may give a bluish color. Bony amber owes its cloudy opacity to numerous tiny bubbles inside the resin. [27] However, so-called black amber is really only a kind of jet.

In darkly clouded and even opaque amber, inclusions can be imaged using high-energy, high-contrast, high-resolution X-rays. [28]

Extraction and processing

Distribution and mining

Amber mine "Primorskoje" in Jantarny, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia Baltic-amber-deposit-Yantarny.jpg
Amber mine "Primorskoje" in Jantarny, Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia

Amber is globally distributed, mainly in rocks of Cretaceous age or younger. Historically, the Samland coast west of Königsberg in Prussia was the world's leading source of amber. The first mentions of amber deposits here date back to the 12th century. [29] About 90% of the world's extractable amber is still located in that area, which became the Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia in 1946. [30]

Pieces of amber torn from the seafloor are cast up by the waves, and collected by hand, dredging, or diving. Elsewhere, amber is mined, both in open works and underground galleries. Then nodules of blue earth have to be removed and an opaque crust must be cleaned off, which can be done in revolving barrels containing sand and water. Erosion removes this crust from sea-worn amber. [27]

Blue amber from Dominican Republic Ambre bleu dominicain 21207.jpg
Blue amber from Dominican Republic

Caribbean amber, especially Dominican blue amber, is mined through bell pitting, which is dangerous due to the risk of tunnel collapse. [31]

Treatment

The Vienna amber factories, which use pale amber to manufacture pipes and other smoking tools, turn it on a lathe and polish it with whitening and water or with rotten stone and oil. The final luster is given by friction with flannel. [27]

When gradually heated in an oil-bath, amber becomes soft and flexible. Two pieces of amber may be united by smearing the surfaces with linseed oil, heating them, and then pressing them together while hot. Cloudy amber may be clarified in an oil-bath, as the oil fills the numerous pores to which the turbidity is due.

Small fragments, formerly thrown away or used only for varnish, are now used on a large scale in the formation of "ambroid" or "pressed amber". [27] The pieces are carefully heated with exclusion of air and then compressed into a uniform mass by intense hydraulic pressure, the softened amber being forced through holes in a metal plate. The product is extensively used for the production of cheap jewelry and articles for smoking. This pressed amber yields brilliant interference colors in polarized light.

Amber has often been imitated by other resins like copal and kauri gum, as well as by celluloid and even glass. Baltic amber is sometimes colored artificially, but also called "true amber". [27]

Appearance

Amber occurs in a range of different colors. As well as the usual yellow-orange-brown that is associated with the color "amber", amber itself can range from a whitish color through a pale lemon yellow, to brown and almost black. Other uncommon colors include red amber (sometimes known as "cherry amber"), green amber, and even blue amber, which is rare and highly sought after. [32]

Yellow amber is a hard fossil resin from evergreen trees, and despite the name it can be translucent, yellow, orange, or brown colored. Known to the Iranians by the Pahlavi compound word kah-ruba (from kah "straw" plus rubay "attract, snatch", referring to its electrical properties), which entered Arabic as kahraba' or kahraba (which later became the Arabic word for electricity, كهرباء kahrabā'), it too was called amber in Europe (Old French and Middle English ambre). Found along the southern shore of the Baltic Sea, yellow amber reached the Middle East and western Europe via trade. Its coastal acquisition may have been one reason yellow amber came to be designated by the same term as ambergris. Moreover, like ambergris, the resin could be burned as an incense. The resin's most popular use was, however, for ornamentation—easily cut and polished, it could be transformed into beautiful jewelry. Much of the most highly prized amber is transparent, in contrast to the very common cloudy amber and opaque amber. Opaque amber contains numerous minute bubbles. This kind of amber is known as "bony amber". [33]

Although all Dominican amber is fluorescent, the rarest Dominican amber is blue amber. It turns blue in natural sunlight and any other partially or wholly ultraviolet light source. In long-wave UV light it has a very strong reflection, almost white. Only about 100 kg (220 lb) is found per year, which makes it valuable and expensive. [34]

Sometimes amber retains the form of drops and stalactites, just as it exuded from the ducts and receptacles of the injured trees. [27] It is thought that, in addition to exuding onto the surface of the tree, amber resin also originally flowed into hollow cavities or cracks within trees, thereby leading to the development of large lumps of amber of irregular form.

Classification

Amber can be classified into several forms. Most fundamentally, there are two types of plant resin with the potential for fossilization. Terpenoids, produced by conifers and angiosperms, consist of ring structures formed of isoprene (C5H8) units. [2] Phenolic resins are today only produced by angiosperms, and tend to serve functional uses. The extinct medullosans produced a third type of resin, which is often found as amber within their veins. [2] The composition of resins is highly variable; each species produces a unique blend of chemicals which can be identified by the use of pyrolysisgas chromatographymass spectrometry. [2] The overall chemical and structural composition is used to divide ambers into five classes. [35] [36] There is also a separate classification of amber gemstones, according to the way of production.

Class I

This class is by far the most abundant. It comprises labdatriene carboxylic acids such as communic or ozic acids. [35] It is further split into three sub-classes. Classes Ia and Ib utilize regular labdanoid diterpenes (e.g. communic acid, communol, biformenes), while Ic uses enantio labdanoids (ozic acid, ozol, enantio biformenes). [37]

Ia

Class Ia includes Succinite (= 'normal' Baltic amber) and Glessite. [36] They have a communic acid base, and they also include much succinic acid. [35]

Baltic amber yields on dry distillation succinic acid, the proportion varying from about 3% to 8%, and being greatest in the pale opaque or bony varieties. The aromatic and irritating fumes emitted by burning amber are mainly due to this acid. Baltic amber is distinguished by its yield of succinic acid, hence the name succinite. Succinite has a hardness between 2 and 3, which is rather greater than that of many other fossil resins. Its specific gravity varies from 1.05 to 1.10. [19] It can be distinguished from other ambers via IR spectroscopy due to a specific carbonyl absorption peak. IR spectroscopy can detect the relative age of an amber sample. Succinic acid may not be an original component of amber, but rather a degradation product of abietic acid. [38]

Ib

Like class Ia ambers, these are based on communic acid; however, they lack succinic acid. [35]

Ic

This class is mainly based on enantio-labdatrienonic acids, such as ozic and zanzibaric acids. [35] Its most familiar representative is Dominican amber. [2]

Dominican amber differentiates itself from Baltic amber by being mostly transparent and often containing a higher number of fossil inclusions. This has enabled the detailed reconstruction of the ecosystem of a long-vanished tropical forest. [39] Resin from the extinct species Hymenaea protera is the source of Dominican amber and probably of most amber found in the tropics. It is not "succinite" but "retinite". [40]

Class II

These ambers are formed from resins with a sesquiterpenoid base, such as cadinene. [35]

Class III

These ambers are polystyrenes. [35]

Class IV

Class IV is something of a wastebasket;[ clarification needed ] its ambers are not polymerized, but mainly consist of cedrene-based sesquiterpenoids. [35]

Class V

Class V resins are considered to be produced by a pine or pine relative. They comprise a mixture of diterpinoid resins and n-alkyl compounds. Their main variety is Highgate copalite . [36]

Geological record

Typical amber specimen with a number of indistinct inclusions HALAMB48.JPG
Typical amber specimen with a number of indistinct inclusions

The oldest amber recovered dates to the Upper Carboniferous period ( 320  million years ago). [2] [41] Its chemical composition makes it difficult to match the amber to its producers – it is most similar to the resins produced by flowering plants; however, there are no flowering plant fossils known from before the Cretaceous, and they were not common until the Late Cretaceous. Amber becomes abundant long after the Carboniferous, in the Early Cretaceous, 150  million years ago, [2] when it is found in association with insects. The oldest amber with arthropod inclusions comes from the Levant, from Lebanon and Jordan. This amber, roughly 125–135 million years old, is considered of high scientific value, providing evidence of some of the oldest sampled ecosystems. [42]

In Lebanon, more than 450 outcrops of Lower Cretaceous amber were discovered by Dany Azar, [43] a Lebanese paleontologist and entomologist. Among these outcrops, 20 have yielded biological inclusions comprising the oldest representatives of several recent families of terrestrial arthropods. Even older, Jurassic amber has been found recently in Lebanon as well. Many remarkable insects and spiders were recently discovered in the amber of Jordan including the oldest zorapterans, clerid beetles, umenocoleid roaches, and achiliid planthoppers. [42]

Baltic amber or succinite (historically documented as Prussian amber [19] ) is found as irregular nodules in marine glauconitic sand, known as blue earth, occurring in the Lower Oligocene strata of Sambia in Prussia (in historical sources also referred to as Glaesaria). [19] After 1945, this territory around Königsberg was turned into Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia, where amber is now systematically mined. [44]

It appears, however, to have been partly derived from older Eocene deposits and it occurs also as a derivative phase in later formations, such as glacial drift. Relics of an abundant flora occur as inclusions trapped within the amber while the resin was yet fresh, suggesting relations with the flora of Eastern Asia and the southern part of North America. Heinrich Göppert named the common amber-yielding pine of the Baltic forests Pinites succiniter, but as the wood does not seem to differ from that of the existing genus it has been also called Pinus succinifera. It is improbable, however, that the production of amber was limited to a single species; and indeed a large number of conifers belonging to different genera are represented in the amber-flora. [27]

Paleontological significance

Amber is a unique preservational mode, preserving otherwise unfossilizable parts of organisms; as such it is helpful in the reconstruction of ecosystems as well as organisms; [45] the chemical composition of the resin, however, is of limited utility in reconstructing the phylogenetic affinity of the resin producer. [2]

Amber sometimes contains animals or plant matter that became caught in the resin as it was secreted. Insects, spiders and even their webs, annelids, frogs, [46] crustaceans, bacteria and amoebae, [47] marine microfossils, [48] wood, flowers and fruit, hair, feathers [4] and other small organisms have been recovered in Cretaceous ambers (deposited c. 130  million years ago). [2] The oldest amber to bear fossils (mites) is from the Carnian (Triassic, 230  million years ago) of north-eastern Italy. [49]

The preservation of prehistoric organisms in amber forms a key plot point in Michael Crichton's 1990 novel Jurassic Park and the 1993 movie adaptation by Steven Spielberg. [50] In the story, scientists are able to extract the preserved blood of dinosaurs from prehistoric mosquitoes trapped in amber, from which they genetically clone living dinosaurs. Scientifically this is as yet impossible, since no amber with fossilized mosquitoes has ever yielded preserved blood. [51] Amber is, however, conducive to preserving DNA, since it dehydrates and thus stabilizes organisms trapped inside. One projection in 1999 estimated that DNA trapped in amber could last up to 100 million years, far beyond most estimates of around 1 million years in the most ideal conditions, [52] although a later 2013 study was unable to extract DNA from insects trapped in much more recent Holocene copal. [53]

Use

Solutrean amber from Altamira in the Museum de Toulouse Altamira Ambre MHNT.PRE.2012.0.615.jpg
Solutrean amber from Altamira in the Muséum de Toulouse

Amber has been used since prehistory (Solutrean) in the manufacture of jewelry and ornaments, and also in folk medicine.

Jewelry

Amber has been used as jewelry since the Stone Age, from 13,000 years ago. [2] Amber ornaments have been found in Mycenaean tombs and elsewhere across Europe. [54] To this day it is used in the manufacture of smoking and glassblowing mouthpieces. [55] [56] Amber's place in culture and tradition lends it a tourism value; Palanga Amber Museum is dedicated to the fossilized resin.

Historic medicinal uses

Amber has long been used in folk medicine for its purported healing properties. [57] Amber and extracts were used from the time of Hippocrates in ancient Greece for a wide variety of treatments through the Middle Ages and up until the early twentieth century.[ citation needed ] Traditional Chinese medicine uses amber to "tranquilize the mind", and there is limited evidence that it has a sedative effect in mice. [58]

In children

Amber necklaces are a traditional European remedy for colic or teething pain due to the purported analgesic properties of succinic acid, although there is no evidence that this is an effective remedy or delivery method. [57] [59] [60] The American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA have warned strongly against their use, as they present both a choking and a strangulation hazard. [59] [61]

Scent of amber and amber perfumery

Lithuanian amber jewelry Colar lituano com ambar.JPG
Lithuanian amber jewelry

In ancient China, it was customary to burn amber during large festivities. If amber is heated under the right conditions, oil of amber is produced, and in past times this was combined carefully with nitric acid to create "artificial musk" – a resin with a peculiar musky odor. [62] Although when burned, amber does give off a characteristic "pinewood" fragrance, modern products, such as perfume, do not normally use actual amber due to the fact that fossilized amber produces very little scent. In perfumery, scents referred to as "amber" are often created and patented [63] [64] to emulate the opulent golden warmth of the fossil. [65]

The modern name for amber is thought to come from the Arabic word, ambar, meaning ambergris. [66] [67] Ambergris is the waxy aromatic substance created in the intestines of sperm whales and was used in making perfumes both in ancient times as well as modern.

The scent of amber was originally derived from emulating the scent of ambergris and/or the plant resin labdanum, but due to the endangered species status of the sperm whale the scent of amber is now largely derived from labdanum. [68] The term "amber" is loosely used to describe a scent that is warm, musky, rich and honey-like, and also somewhat earthy. It can be synthetically created or derived from natural resins. When derived from natural resins it is most often created out of labdanum. Benzoin is usually part of the recipe. Vanilla and cloves are sometimes used to enhance the aroma.

"Amber" perfumes may be created using combinations of labdanum, benzoin resin, copal (itself a type of tree resin used in incense manufacture), vanilla, Dammara resin and/or synthetic materials. [62]

Imitation

Imitation made in natural resins

Young resins, these are used as imitations: [69]

Imitations made of plastics

Plastics, these are used as imitations: [70]

See also

Related Research Articles

Copal resinous substances between "gummier" resins and amber

Copal is a name given to tree resin, particularly the aromatic resins from the copal tree Protium copal (Burseraceae) used by the cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as ceremonially burned incense and for other purposes. More generally, the term copal describes resinous substances in an intermediate stage of polymerization and hardening between "gummier" resins and amber.

Balsam resinous exudate (or sap), which forms on certain kinds of trees and shrubs

Balsam is the resinous exudate, which forms on certain kinds of trees and shrubs. Balsam owes its name to the biblical Balm of Gilead.

George O. Poinar Jr. is an American entomologist and writer. He is known for popularizing the idea of extracting DNA from insects fossilized in amber, an idea which received widespread attention when adapted by Michael Crichton for the book and movie Jurassic Park.

Agarwood type of wood

Agarwood, aloeswood or gharuwood is a fragrant dark resinous wood used in incense, perfume, and small carvings. It is formed in the heartwood of aquilaria trees when they become infected with a type of mould. Prior to infection, the heartwood is odourless, relatively light and pale coloured; however, as the infection progresses, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin, called aloes or agar as well as gaharu, jinko, oud, or oodh, in response to the attack, which results in a very dense, dark, resin-embedded heartwood. The resin-embedded wood is valued in Arabic-middle eastern culture for its distinctive fragrance, and thus is used for incense and perfumes. The aromatic qualities of agarwood are influenced by the species, geographic location, its branch, trunk and root origin, length of time since infection, and methods of harvesting and processing.

Labdanum

Labdanum, also called ladanum, laudanum, ladan or ladanon, is a sticky brown resin obtained from the shrubs Cistus ladanifer and Cistus creticus, species of rockrose. It was historically used in herbal medicine and is still used in the preparation of some perfumes.

Opilioacariformes superorder of arachnids

Opilioacariformes is the smallest order of mites, containing a single family, and around 10 genera. They are rare, large mites, and are widely considered primitive, as they retain six pairs of eyes, and abdominal segmentation. Opilioacariformes may be the sister group to the Parasitiformes.

Baltic amber

The Baltic region is home to the largest known deposit of amber, called Baltic amber or succinite. It dates from 44 million years ago. It has been estimated that these forests created more than 100,000 tons of amber. Today, more than 90% of the world's amber comes from Kaliningrad Oblast of Russia. It is a major source of income for the region; the local Kaliningrad Amber Combine extracted 250 tonnes of it in 2014, 400 tonnes in 2015.

Stacte and nataph are names used for one component of the Solomon's Temple incense, the Ketoret, discussed in Exodus 30:34. Variously translated to the Greek term or to an unspecified "gum resin" or similar, it was to be mixed in equal parts with onycha, galbanum and mixed with pure frankincense and they were to "beat some of it very small" for burning on the altar of the tabernacle.

Caribbean amber

"Caribbean Amber" is a commercial name for artificially treated Colombian copal. There are no dates or specific geological information on Colombian copal. Because of its color and hardness, some scientists believe it may be Pliocene or Pleistocene, probably about 2 to 3 million years old, in some regions even up to 16 million years old, but in others much, much younger (Santander) and may only count with some thousands, or some hundreds of years. Therefore, in its natural form it is relatively soft. But the desired appearance and behavior is that of the geologically older Dominican amber. The copal is modified by autoclave. Even though the process is similar to modifications or enhancements applied to some Baltic amber, it is sometimes considered considered an "amber imitation" due to its young age.

Roystonea palaea is an extinct species of palm known from fossil flowers found in the early Miocene Burdigalian stage Dominican amber deposits on the island of Hispaniola. The species is known from a single staminate flower and a single pistillate flower both preserved in the same piece of amber. The amber specimen bearing the holotype and paratype is currently deposited in the collections of the Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, as number "Sd–9–101", where it was studied and described by Dr George Poinar. Dr Poinar published his 2002 type description for R. palaea in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 139. The species' second name is taken from the Greek word palaios meaning "ancient". The amber specimen bearing the flowers was excavated from the La Toca mine northeast of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

<i>Palaeovespa</i> genus of insects

Palaeovespa is an extinct genus of wasp in the Vespidae subfamily Vespinae. The genus currently contains seven species, five from the Priabonian stage Florissant Formation in Colorado, United States and two from the middle Eocene Baltic amber deposits of Europe.

Amber Coast

The Amber Coast is the name given to a coastal strip of the Baltic Sea in the northwest of Kaliningrad. In this area amber has been excavated since the mid-19th century and up to today in open-pit mining. Two deposits – Palmnikenskoe and Primorskoe, containing 80% of world amber reserves, were found near Yantarny on the Western coast of the Sambia Peninsula in 1948-1951’s.

BioAmber

BioAmber Inc. is a sustainable chemicals company. Its proprietary technology platform combines industrial biotechnology and chemical catalysis to convert renewable feedstock into building block chemicals for use in a wide variety of everyday products including plastics, resins, food additives and personal care products. BioAmber was listed on the New York Stock Exchange between May 2013 and February 2018, under the symbol BIOA. It was also listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the same symbol. BioAmber is a Delaware corporation with a head office in Montreal, Quebec, a research facility in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a commercial plant operating in Sarnia, Ontario. BioAmber's investors include Sofinnova Partners (France), Naxos Capital Partners (Luxemburg), Mitsui & Co. (Japan), LANXESS (Germany) and the Cliffton Group (Canada).

The incense offering, a blend of aromatic substances that exhale perfume during combustion, usually consisting of spices and gums burnt as an act of worship, occupied a prominent position in the sacrificial legislation of the ancient Hebrews. The correct blend of sweet spices and of aromatic condiments used in making the incense offering was a carefully guarded secret at the time of its offering, fully known only by the compounders of the incense offering so as to prevent its replication in the worship of foreign gods. The priests of the House of Avtinas who were charged with preparing the incense during the Second Temple period kept the technique and exact proportions secret, for which they were censured by the rabbis. Today, what is known of the incense offering has been carefully gleaned from Jewish oral traditions, albeit, various conflicting opinions in Jewish classical writings have also filtered down as to its proper make-up. Modern scientific research conducted in the last century has shed considerable light on these findings.

Zigrasolabis is an extinct genus of earwig in the family Labiduridae known from Cretaceous fossils found in Myanmar. The genus contains a single described species, Zigrasolabis speciosa.

Prosisyrina is an extinct genus of lacewing in the neuropteran family Sisyridae. The genus contains two described species, Prosisyrina sphinga and Prosisyrina sukachevae. Prosisyrina is known from a group of Late Cretaceous fossils which were found in Asia.

<i>Dlusskyidris</i> genus of insects

Dlusskyidris is an extinct genus of ant in the Formicidae subfamily Sphecomyrminae, and is one of the five genera placed in the tribe Sphecomyrmini. The genus contains a single described species, Dlusskyidris zherichini, and is known from three Late Cretaceous fossils which have been found in northern Russia.

Alkenylsuccinic anhydrides chemical compound

Alkenyl succinic anhydrides (ASA) are modified five-membered succinic anhydrides bearing a branched iso-alkenyl chain (C14 to C22). They are colorless, and usually viscous liquids. They are widely used, especially in surface sizing of paper, paperboard, and cardboard, as well as in the hydrophobicization of cellulose fibers. Products treated with it show reduced penetration of aqueous media, such as inks or drinks (like milk or fruit juices).

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Attribution

Bibliography