Bernstein Collier, 4. Jahrhundert. Foto, Alamannen Museum Ellwangen

Swiss Amber

The Greeks, Romans, Celtic and other European peoples highly valued amber, a precious stone. Archaeological amber finds are made throughout Europe.

The finds date from the older Stone Age ( c .10000-4000 BC), the later Stone Age (c. 4000-1800 BC), the Bronze Age (c. 1800-500 BC) and Greek and Roman times.

The Roman (provincial) elite was also interested in this beautiful material, and the European rivers and Roman roads were important to communication.

Amber was also transported to Italy,  and an amber industry arose in Aquileia on the Adriatic Sea. The products were widely distributed throughout the Roman Empire.

Towards the middle of the second century and in the following centuries, the flourishing amber industry gradually dwindled due to the invasions by the ‘barbarians’.

Amber is found in large quantities in the Baltic Sea, Scandinavian countries (the oldest finds are in Denmark), and Switzerland. The most important finds have been made at Münchenstein, south of Bern.

It is not known whether amber was exported to Aquileia. Still, the Celtic/Rauraci people were skilled and experienced artisans and used amber for their ornaments and jewellery.

Source: M. Ploug, Amber (Copenhagen 2000)