New evidence of Baltic-Adriatic amber trade

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [New York University]On: 02 October 2014, At: 23:49Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>Journal of Baltic StudiesPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:</p><p>New evidence of Baltic-Adriaticamber tradeJoan M. Todd a &amp; Marijean H. Eichel ba San Jos State Universityb Virginia Commonwealth UniversityPublished online: 01 Mar 2007.</p><p>To cite this article: Joan M. Todd &amp; Marijean H. Eichel (1976) New evidence of Baltic-Adriatic amber trade, Journal of Baltic Studies, 7:4, 330-342</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,</p><p></p></li><li><p>sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone isexpressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>New</p><p> Yor</p><p>k U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 23:</p><p>49 0</p><p>2 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p><p></p></li><li><p>NEW E V I D E N C E OF B A L T I C - A D R I A T I C A M B E R T R A D E </p><p>Joan M. Todd, San Jos~ State University Mari/ean H. Eichel, Virginia Commonwealth University </p><p>In a preliminary study of the ancient amber trade, x we advanced the idea that it might be advantageous~ to pursue the problems by considering in turn the various possible routes. The Adriatic route, coming down from the Baltic to the Danube and thence branching into two contacts with the Adriatic, west over the Alps to the Po River and east over the Postojna Pass (the ancient Peartree Pass) to centers in North Yugoslavia, appears to be a natural first candidate. This route appears (with some modifications) on all major map studies of the amber trade. Secondly, this is the route through which the ancient writers tell us they received the amber, although once north of the Adriatic itself, they become confused as to the way to the Baltic and often connect the Black Sea with the Adriatic by way of the Danube. From the earliest myths to the later travels of Pausanias amber is linked with the Eridanus River, usually now considered to be the Po River. 2 Islands in the North Adriatic were called the Electrides and the Greeks believed amber came from there. 3 </p><p>Another reason for beginning with the Adriatic is the tantalizing proximity of the important sacred shrines of Greece: Dodona in Epirus, Delphi up from the Gulf of Corinth and Olympia in West Peloponnessus. Amber has been found in Kakovatos in Ells near Olympia and recently in Messenia, on the Nichorian ridge near Kalamata in Bronze Age sites. 4 The historian of prehis- toric and classical Epirus and Macedonia, N. G. L. Hammond, mentions many shared and similar artifacts between Epiriot sites, Dodona, Macedon and My- cenean Greece. He particularly mentions amber finds, s </p><p>Hammond's recent books are the continuation of the important question of early Adriatic-Greek relationships which was first discussed at length in an article by H. L. Beaumont published in 1936. Beaumont recognized the im- portance and connection of the Eridanus-Po with the amber legend and the fact that the Greeks of Dodona were the first to handle the gifts of the north- </p><p>330 JBS, Vol. 7, No. 4 (1976) </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>New</p><p> Yor</p><p>k U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 23:</p><p>49 0</p><p>2 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>Baltic-Adriatic Amber 331 </p><p>ern Hyperboreans, but he believed that Herodotus' Hyperborean route "can hardly have anything to do with amber, owing to lack of finds from the sta- tions he mentions. ''6 New excavations are closing the gaps in this route as well as refuting his statement that "amber was not very i m p o r t a n t . . , after 600" (Beaumont, 191). As we shall see, amber finds in Yugoslavia have been found to be especially rich for this very period, although the Greek use of amber may have indeed changed, at least in burial practices. Certainly as Beaumont himself pointed out, classical Greek references to amber are v~ery numerous. Beaumont also was concerned about the paucity of Greek finds in the Central Adriatic and this too has been corrected by recent (1966) finds near Split, Vis and Zadar. 7 </p><p>New work is constantly pushing back the date for early Greek-Adriatic contacts. In his discussion (1970) on navigation in the Adriatic Brusic" gives "proofs for the supposed communications in the neolith and the connections between the eastern side of the Adriatic and cultures in the inland of the Bal- kans, as well as for connections with the coasts of Greece, central and south- ern Italy" in archeological finds of pottery, direct imports such as obsidian, ship pictures and, for the later periods, coins, a </p><p>Novak, in his work on prehistoric Hvar, an island in the central Dalmatian group, sees a continuing vital Adriatic merchandise exchange and concludes it is "quite certain that in the late neolithic there was a link Hvar-Postojna. . . and that the same way by which amber travelled in prehistoric and classic times had been paved long before, i.e. in the Neolithic or the Eneolithic. ' '9 </p><p>Still farther north in the Adriatic, new discoveries and analyses by Italian scholars of prehistoric amber finds north of the Po gives proof of Baltic ori- gin as well as "frequenting of the higher Adriatic Sea by eastern merchants during the epoch anterior to colonization. ' '1 J. D. Muhly sees amber as a cen- tral consideration in the reconstruction of Bronze Age Trade, with a sort of triangular trade relationship between tin, from N. Europe, faience (from Egypt) and amber. 11 </p><p>Equally important as the Adriatic is the consideration of the relation of in- terior Yugoslavia to the Danube and its tributaries which is seen as a key to contacts with both Greeks and Northern Europeans. For Marija Gimbutas the Bronze Age of Central and Eastern Europe is the result of three streams of in- fluence; the first one she considers is that between eastern central Europe and the Near East. The route by which this relationship was established was "by trade via the Balkans, the Aegean, and the eastern Mediterranean" (Gimbutas, Ch. I). Her view of the early beginning, variety of routes and continuity of the Bronze Age amber trade is summarized as follows: </p><p>Amber was collected for export to the south and north from the end of the third millennium B. C. The existence of an eastern amber route throughout the Early Bronze Age (ca. 1800-ca. 1450) is proven by the concentration of hoards and graves containing amber beads in the lower Vistula area and in western Poland. Finished and semi-f'mished amber </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>New</p><p> Yor</p><p>k U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 23:</p><p>49 0</p><p>2 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>332 Journal o f Baltic Studies </p><p>beads show that bead manufacture was carried on where the raw amber was collected . . . Through Bohemia, Moravia or Slovakia it reached the Danube and the Tisza rivers, where the route split into two branches, one crossing the Alps into Italy and the other leading along the eastern coast of the Adriatic to Mycenaean Greece. </p><p>The most common form of amber bead in the Mycenaean tombs was a globular or flattened-spherical bead variable in size and centrally perforated. The same type of amber bead occurs in the southeastern Baltic area. (Gimbutas, 48.) </p><p>Vladimlr Fewkes sees an even earlier set t lement penetrat ion o f the Yugoslav </p><p>por t ion o f the lower Danube valley from the north and concludes, </p><p>With respect to the Neolithic Age, the vestiges of which are clearly rec- ognized more or less throughout the lower valley of the Danube, there can be no doubt that even the apparently 'oldest' remains bespeak a well developed cultural complexity. Although regional differences are distinguishable, a common fundamental basis of economy is demon- strated. This reflects a communal mode of life, sessile conditions, agri- culture and stock-raising-in other words controlled economy. Local parental antecedents from which the determining criteria of such an innovation might be considered to have germinated are certainly totally unsubstantiated. On the contrary, the very nature of the Neolithic cultural status, collectively viewed, indubitably bespeaks derivation from external sources, lZ </p><p>It is important to note that Fewkes speaks o f the Yugoslav Danube area </p><p>o f sett lement, rather than trade. in terms </p><p>A recent reconsideration o f Greek-Yugoslav contacts between the 8th and 6th c. BC emphasizes the Greek imports in the rich tombs o f the interior Glasinac plateau, especially items o f intr icately worked a m b e r . . . " indubi tablement de provenance g r e c q u e . . . " The term "greco-iUyrien" is used for a number o f styles and the author describes the Greek merchants penetrat ing more and more (from the Adriatic coast) into the interior o f the Balkans. 1 a </p><p>Tradit ionally then, when scholars spoke o f the Adriat ic amber route, they meant a sea route whether they specifically so stated or not, and that sea route began at the head of the Adriat ic gulf, either from the Po delta or from the re- gion where Trieste is now located. Based on our investigations o f Yugoslavian amber finds, we believe that this is much too restrictive and that if one looks at the terrain o f Yugoslavia as a whole other routes are possible and in some cases probable. </p><p>The northeastern part o f the Balkan peninsula, now part o f Yugoslavia, may best be described as a series o f l imestone ridges and intermontane valleys which trend in a northwest/southeast direction. Appended from the head o f the Adri- atic Sea is the heart shaped Istrian peninsula, with an abrupt coastal scarp and an interior dissected plateau. Cut by few rivers because o f the porosi ty o f its lime- stone substrata, it was in prehistoric and classical times thickly wooded. </p><p>Close to the eastern coast o f the Adriatic, separated from it by a series o f nar- row channels, lie the Adriat ic island groups: The Kvarner islands (Greek Elek- </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>New</p><p> Yor</p><p>k U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 23:</p><p>49 0</p><p>2 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>Baltic-Adriatic Amber 333 </p><p>trides) and the Dalmatian islands, drowned mountain ridges which parallel the trend of the coast. Like the Istrian peninsula, they were originally wooded is- lands. </p><p>The first of the ridges on the eastern mainland edge of the Adriatic rises abruptly from the sea and stretches as an almost unbroken chain from the northernmost part of the Kvarner Gulf to the lowlands of the Drin River in Albania. There are six gaps which separate the links in this barrier range: four river mouths (the Zrmanja, Krka, Cetina and Neretva rivers) and the two depres- sions leading to the interior, one over the Velebit range near Senj, and the other through Klis in Central Dalmatia. </p><p>Only the Neretva and the Zrmanja lead deep into the interior; both the Cetina and the Krka make sharp turns and run for most of their courses parallel to the coast. And only the Neretva has constructed an extensive flood plain and delta in its lower reaches. </p><p>The interior limestone mountain ridges, the planine, are generally rounded, broad and quite long in proportion to their width. In prehistoric times they were thickly wooded with conifer or deciduous oak associations. As one travels east, the height of the mountains decreases and several high plateaux, gently rolling and easily traversed, are encountered. The intermontane valleys, the polje, are partly of karstic or techtonic origin and partly carved by mountain streams. The largest is Lika polja, an oval depression about 100 kilometers long and 40 kilo- meters wide, probably formed by karstic and techtonic forces. </p><p>Across the top of the mountain chain cuts the Sara River. Rising in the Julian alps, it flows east to join the Danube in the Pannonian plain. Large tributaries flow into it only from the south: it is these tributaries which deeply dissect the </p><p> mountain massif, only rarely building flood plains. In the main, the broad plan- ine which separate them provide much easier passage than the canyons of the upper river courses; it is only when one reaches the lower elevations that the val- leys of these tributaries are easily traversed. </p><p>It was in the consideration of this total geographic picture of the Adriatic area in combination with the interior of Yugoslavia that our investigation of the ancient amber trade in this area began. </p><p>During the summer of 1974, thirty-five samples of archeological amber exca- vated in the Yugoslav provinces of Bosnia and Croatia were collected for prove- nience analysis. All of the amb'er artifacts from which samples were take are pre- sently in the possession of the cooperating museums, with the exception of a necklace from Rijeka which was lost earher. 14 </p><p>The samples were tested for provenience by infrared spectrophotometry, by Professor Curt W. Beck and Angela Macchiarulo of Vassar College. is This meth- od of analysis requires only a very small sample of 2 milligrams and, except in rare cases of extensive weathering identifies Baltic amber (succinite) unambig- uously by a characteristic absorption pattern in the wavelength of 8 to 9 mi- crons. Computer classification makes it possible to further substantiate results. 16 The infrared method of provenience analysis is empirical and independent of any </p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>New</p><p> Yor</p><p>k U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p>] at</p><p> 23:</p><p>49 0</p><p>2 O</p><p>ctob</p><p>er 2</p><p>014 </p></li><li><p>334 Journal of Baltic Studies </p><p>uncertainties which still attach to the chemical composition and botanical origin of Baltic amber; 17 it is a "fingerprinting" technique based solely on the compari- son of archaeological amber finds with a very broad data base of about 3,000 amber samples of known geographic origin. 18 </p><p>There are six major geographic areas represented by the samples and these divisi...</p></li></ul>