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Article: Amber


Definition, Uses, and Cultural Significance of Amber

  • Amber is fossilized tree resin appreciated for its color and natural beauty.
  • It is valued as a gemstone, used in jewelry, and has cultural and traditional significance.
  • Amber is used in folk medicine and traditional Chinese medicine for its healing properties.
  • It has been used in ornaments, smoking tools, and glassblowing mouthpieces.
  • The Palanga Amber Museum is dedicated to fossilized resin.

Types and Classification of Amber

  • Amber can contain animal and plant material as inclusions.
  • There are different types of amber, including Baltic amber, resinite, ambrite, and ambergris.
  • Amber can be classified into five classes based on their chemical and structural composition.
  • Class Ia, Ib, Ic, II, and III ambers have different chemical constituents.

History and Geological Record of Amber

  • Amber has been discussed by ancient scholars like Theophrastus, Pytheas, and Pliny.
  • It has a long history of use, with evidence of its use in ancient Italy and China.
  • The oldest recovered amber dates back to the late Carboniferous period, approximately 320 million years ago.
  • Amber becomes abundant in the Early Cretaceous, around 150 million years ago.
  • Lebanese amber and Burmese amber provide evidence of ancient ecosystems.

Composition, Formation, and Properties of Amber

  • Amber is composed of fossilized resinous bodies and an insoluble bituminous substance.
  • It is formed through free radical polymerization of precursors in the labdane family.
  • Amber has a hardness between 2.0 and 2.5 on the Mohs scale and a refractive index of 1.5–1.6.
  • It decomposes when heated above 200°C, yielding oil of amber and amber colophony.
  • Amber contains succinic acid and emits aromatic fumes when burned.

Extraction, Processing, and Imitation of Amber

  • Amber is globally distributed and can be collected by hand, dredging, or diving.
  • The coast west of Königsberg in Prussia was historically the world's leading source of amber.
  • Juodkrantė in Lithuania is a major mining town of amber.
  • Amber can be treated, softened, clarified, and pressed for various uses.
  • There are imitation substances like copal, Kauri resin, plastics, and other materials used to imitate amber.

Amber Data Sources

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