Is amber really such an integral part of our history? Or is that just a myth? Did the Roman Emperor Nero really send Romans to the lands of our ancestors, the Aesti, 2,000 years ago to obtain amber, the most sought-after luxury good, also known as ‘northern gold’, for the Roman Empire, one of the richest states of that time?
Today, in the 21st century, amber crafts and other historical artifacts have arrived at the National Museum of Lithuania from Italy, Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, and Poland. These exceptional exhibits tell the story of the Aesti and Roman societies and their mutually beneficial relations. Visitors to this exhibition will learn about the nature of travel in the ancient age; view maps depicting the Baltic Sea, the Nemunas River, and the roads leading to what is modern day Lithuania; and learn about the way of life of different cultures and how they understood the world, including their views on women. Visitors will also have the chance to explore such question as: How did the so-called civilized world differ from that of the Barbarians? Perhaps there weren’t so many differences after all? What actually defines a civilization?
Perhaps, by looking back from today’s perspective, we’ll understand that people don’t really change that much at all. We want the same thing that the ancient Romans and Aesti sought: what we ourselves don’t have. Or perhaps the things we already have but don’t appreciate. And with whom should we associate amber more – the Aesti or the Romans? Who actually determined its value as a tradable good: the buyer or the seller? Every item in this exhibition tells a story – we just have to listen. After walking through this exhibition, you may just begin to see amber and our ancestors in a completely different light…
1 000 000 Steps: The Amber Road from Rome to the Baltic – the largest international exhibition mounted this year by the National Museum of Lithuania – opens to the public on 26 October at the House of Histories (T. Kosciuškos g. 3) and will run through 8 May 2023.