Amber - Greek Mythology - & Electricity

I love all things gemstone and have been researching the origins of particular stones and how they have been valued over the years. At the moment I am looking at Amber.

Baltic Amber - various colours

Greek legend has it that amber was created as a result of a young boy called Phaeton - son of the sun god. Every day he watched his father drive his chariot across the sky and begged to have a go. One day he had his chance to steal a joy ride on the chariot. His seven sister helped him harness the horses and he set off. But he soon lost control of the chariot and it seemed the whole world would be destroyed. However Zeus the king of the Gods sent a thunderbolt to kill the boy and stop the damage. Phaeton's body fell to the earth beside a north-flowing river called the Eridanus. As punishment for helping him, his sisters were turned into black poplars. As they wept over the fate of their brother, their tears fell into the river and became amber.

Phaeton riding the chariot

Phaeton falling to his death after being struck by lightening

Although just a story there are some remarkable similarities to how amber actually is created and where it originated, for example the weeping trees and the north-flowing river. We know that amber was created from the thick resin of conifers from millions of years ago that has been fossilised over time and hidden in the folds of the earth or under the sea waiting to be discovered or broken apart and washed ashore.

And another facinating thing about amber - the greek word for Amber is Elektron which means 'the sun' because it comes in all the colours of the sun, bright yellow to sunset red; and because when it is rubbed, it attracts lint and grass to it, and creates sparks of light. Later in 1600 this phenomenon was named electricity after the Greek name for amber.

More amber themed facts to come...


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