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By N. Precisvalle, A Martucci, L Rodeghero, G Bianchini and I Braschi


Amber is a fossilized tree resin appreciated since antiquity for its unique aesthetic qualities in the production of small decorative objects. Its chemical composition is strongly related to the origin of the resin, but Baltic amber is synonymous with the chemical name butanedioic acid (C4H6O4), more commonly known as succinic acid (Beck, 1986). C4H6O4 is also a natural constituent of plant and animal tissues which has been used in Europe as a natural antibiotic and general curative for centuries. It has been stated, for example, that succinic acid isolated from Baltic amber can stimulate human and plant organisms, and can contribute to an increase in the yield of some cultivated plants (Matuszewska and John, 2004). In the literature it was reported that not all Baltic ambers contain succinic acid (Matuszewska and John, 2004).\ud The primary goal of this study was to characterize succinite, a Baltic amber characterized by levels of succinic acid ranging from 3 to 8%. The selected succinite samples - (Palmnicken, Baltic Coast, and Prussia amber) consisted of opaque pale brown to nearly dark red-brown rounded masses of this amber variety. For comparative purposes, our tests were also carried out on a number of reference materials, including amber from Danzig Region, Poland, and commercial specimens. Standard gemological methods were used to document the samples’ colour, hardness, refractive indices, fluorescence to long and short-wave ultraviolet radiation, and inclusions. X-ray powders patterns were collected before and after adsorption on a Bruker D8 Advance diffractometer equipped with SOL-X detector. Thermal analyses (TG and DTA) were performed in air up to 900°C at 10°C min-1. According to Shashoua et al. (2006), IR techniques have been shown to identify the provenance of the amber beyond the basic Baltic/ non-Baltic distinction. In this study, infrared spectra collected on a Thermo Electron Corporation FT Nicolet 5700 Spectrometer FTIR spectra revealed characteristic spectral differences that make it possible to positively identify Baltic amber. \ud \ud Beck C. W. (1986). Spectroscopic Investigations of Amber. Applied Spectroscopy Reviews, 22, 57-110.\ud Matuszewska A., Shashoua J. A. (2004). Some possibilities of thin layer chromatographic analysis of the molecular phase of Baltic amber and other natural resins. Acta Chromatographica, 14, 82-91.\ud Shashoua Y., Degn Berthelsen M.-B. L. & Nielsen O. F. (2006). Raman and ATR-FTIR spectroscopies applied to the conservation of archaeological Baltic amber. Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, 37, 1221–1227

Publisher: SIMP
Year: 2014
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