A Guided Tour "Glesaria – the Amberland"
23 September 2015
Press Office of the Amber Museum
A short but fascinating, as well as an insightful trip to the Amberland was arranged for the participants of the International conference "Amber in the History of Medicine" by the Kaliningrad Regional Amber Museum and the Atlantic Branch of Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS.
The name Amberland (Bernsteinland, Gles[s]aria) was given at different times to one of the most beautiful areas of the South-East Baltic – Sambia peninsula where amber is quarried. Today, it is part of the Kaliningrad Oblast. Daily life activities in Koenigsberg and its surroundings were connected with this place for centuries (amber craft, trade in amber, amber chamber, amber court and others), and at present the history, culture and everyday life of the citizens of our region are associated with the area.
Today, nothing on the coast bears a resemblance to the cultural history of amber, to the fact that once many of the famous amber routes started from here. That is why the project "The Amber Road from the Past into the Future" implemented by the Kaliningrad Regional Amber Museum in collaboration with the Atlantic Branch of Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS involves the development of a number of educational excursions whose routes make it possible to recreate the cultural and historical context of the natural landscape sites linked to amber.
The guests of the International conference "Amber in the History of Medicine" were taken on one of the tours called "Glesaria – the Amberland". It was for the first time that the excursion included a unique site of the Baltic physical landscape – the geological exposure of the Neogene-Paleogene period (being the most detailed in North Europe, according to geologists) with an amber-bearing stratum of "blue soil" as a platform. This picturesque place suffers from the activities of the so-called "black diggers", and the pit is under the threat of complete destruction. The chief aim of the tour was to draw attention of the public to one of the most interesting assets of the region's natural and historical legacy. Another objective was to show the conference participants one of the most beautiful sites of the Baltic Sea coast marked on the 16th–19th century maps with an inscription "Amber is found here".
The tour to the Amberland was guided by Ekaterina Bubnova, a PhD student of the Department of the Ocean Geography of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University and a research engineer at the Atlantic Branch of Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS. The guests were told about the peculiarities of the landscape and geology of the Kaliningrad Oblast, about historical and current techniques of amber extraction and treatment. The guide's professional explanation throughout the tour drew visitors' attention to geological and palaeontological specimens abundantly scattered all over the coast, enabled the guests to become familiar with the information that cannot be found in any other programme offered to tourists in the Kaliningrad Oblast.
In the village of Donskoe, where the first stop was made, the guests were welcomed by the Head of the local Administration Aleksey Shchepkin. The Atlantic Branch of Shirshov Institute of Oceanology RAS, the Kaliningrad Regional Amber Museum and Administration of the village of Donskoe have joined their efforts in an attempt to include the soil section, located on the coast near the village, on the list of protected sites of natural and cultural legacy of the region.
The reconstruction of amber catching arranged by the Amber Museum, the Shirshov Institute Atlantic Branch and the artistic group "Prussian Honey" came as a surprise to the guests, as well as a possibility to take part in gathering amber – with your own hands to pick out sparkling pieces of the sunny stone stuck in the dark amber grass.
Another stop on the way enabled the participants to see how amber is quarried. At the viewing platform of the Kaliningrad Amber Factory they were met by Chief Mining Geologist Timur Khalitov, whose story of an expert managing amber extraction from day to day revealed a lot of new facts even to geoscientists who were among the conference participants.
The general festive mood was favoured by a wonderful sunny day, heady sea air and a remarkable sociability of our guests whom we showed a small part of the legendary Land where amber is found.
Curator of the project "The Amber Road from the Past into the Future",
Chief Research Associate of the Kaliningrad Regional Amber Museum