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Out Of the Forest Primeval: Amber
Gems and Birthstones
"People have been intrigued for millenia by this mysterious and precious material. This quiz provides only a sample of amber lore! (In memoriam LAC 1923-1999.)"
15 Points Per Correct Answer - No time limit
Some of the oldest amber carvings have been found in Mesopotamian graves.
Amber is obviously not a type of stone; before the development of plastics it was unique in many respects. Which of the following properties is not found in amber?
burns when heated, releasing fragrant smoke
light in weight, floats on saltwater
only moderately hard, yet very tough
poor conductor of heat, feels warm to the touch
The nature of amber remained mysterious for many centuries. One Greek myth says the Heliades (daughters of Apollo) angered their father by weeping and were turned into amber trees. What were the Heliades grieving for?
Apollo had found them annoying for a long time, but their brother's behavior was the last straw.
Their mother had cursed them, condemning them to cry all their lives.
Their brother had recklessly tried to drive Apollo's chariot. He nearly destroyed the earth before being struck down by Zeus.
Apollo had given away their treasure, a golden apple tree, in order to impress Aphrodite.
The "amber road" was a precarious route by which amber was transported over the Alps to Italy and the Mediterranean. It was established by Iron Age traders before 400 BC. What was the source of this amber?
the Caspian Sea
Lake Baikal, in Russia
the Baltic Sea
An important commercial source of amber developed in the 20th century is which?
"Look at this pendant; it has a whole butterfly trapped in it! That proves it's real!"
No. It's impossible for an insect the size of the butterfly to be preserved in amber.
No. Insects preserved naturally in amber are always distorted and crushed.
No. The butterfly or moth evolved too recently to be included in amber.
No. Forgers have been including insects in their fakes for centuries.
According to local legend, the ghost of Anselmus of Lozenstein wanders the shores of the Baltic Sea calling out "Free amber, oh God, free amber." Why was Anselmus condemned to this fate?
He wrote a long poem about the spirit of amber, which he declared must always be free from the grasp of human avarice. He was declared insane and died in prison.
He manipulated the yield and the price of amber in order to amass a huge personal fortune. He was assassinated by local peasants.
He was a judge responsible for trying anyone suspected of having picked up amber illicitly. As little as a crumb could mean immediate hanging.
He raised a rebellion against the Knights of the Teutonic Order, who claimed ownership of all amber found on Baltic beaches. He was burned on the beach with 74 other rebels.
Rocket scientist Willy Ley was a writer of science fiction, but also wrote a book about amber. What is its title?
The Princes of Amber
Dragons in Amber
The Amber Testimonies
From the Forest Primeval
The Norse goddess Freya was condemned to wear a fabulous amber necklace forever, and as a result wept so bitterly that her tears generated more amber as they fell into the sea. Why was she so unhappy about wearing the beautiful necklace?
She could hear the voices of the ancient trees that died to make it.
She had destroyed the source of the amber to collect enough for the necklace, and was haunted by the faces of the local inhabitants as they starved.
She was remorseful because she had committed adultery to obtain it.
Her mother had been murdered while wearing it, and Freya did nothing to help because she was distracted by the necklace's beauty.
Other attempts to explain the origins of amber included which of these?
It was the solidified urine of a lynx.
It was the solidified urine of a Gryphon.
It was the solidified urine of a dragon.
It was the solidified urine of Pegasus, the winged horse.
"African amber" beads worn in the 19th and 20th centuries for ornamental and mystical purposes were actually often made of what substance?
Orange opaque glass
Dyed balsa wood
Stones, such as yellow jasper
Bakelite or similar plastics
A substance frequently used as an amber substitute is called copal. It is formed from saps that have not gone completely through the process of becoming amber. Some types are reportedly thousands or millions of years old; others are still being harvested from copal trees. What are some ways to tell copal from true amber?
becomes sticky when wiped with rubbing alcohol
all of these
burns more rapidly than amber with a stronger fragrance
deteriorates and crackles more rapidly in air than amber
Other fossil resins found associated with Baltic amber include beckerite, gedanite, stantienite, and glessite.
A famous carved amber artifact was found in a Bronze Age burial mound in Hove, UK. It is now exhibited at Booth Museum in Brighton. What is it?
a helmet in three parts
a sword pommel
Amber which has been heated and compressed into blocks ("ambroid") has been commercially produced since the 19th century. Which is not one of the advantages of using pressed amber?
The resulting material is more consistent in color and better suited to producing such commodities as sets of buttons.
Merchants were more likely to stock it because they claimed the extra processing justified a higher price.
Compression results in a denser and less brittle texture, making the products more durable.
The product could be produced less expensively and sold to a wider market.
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Compiled Jun 28 12