Amber Bay (Juodkrantė)

Gintaro įlanka (Juodkrantė)
Amber Bay

Northern part of the settlement of Juodkrantė, Neringa

Gintaro įlanka vadinama nedidelė, idiliška marių įlankėlė šiaurinėje Juodkrantės dalyje. Mūsų laikais čia kievieną birželį vyksta nendrinių skulptūrų simpoziumas. Skulptūros visą vasarą džiugina akį, o per rudens lygiadeinio šventę sudeginamos.
O kadaise… Juodkrantė buvo vadinama Kalifornija..
In 1855, when canalising the waterway in the Curonian Spit near Juodkrantė, workers found amber in the sludge. Shortly after that, various entrepreneurs expressed their interest in this discovery. Vilhelmas Stantynas, a former miller and ships’ owner who later became an innkeeper in Klaipėda, was the first to start organised excavation of mud from the bottom of the lagoon in search of amber. Once merchants from Danzig joined him, a company, called V. Stantien and M. Becker, was founded to excavate amber from the bottom of the lagoon. The government helped it by canalising the ships’ navigation channel between Klaipėda and the coast in order to benefit from the amber search. Having united the efforts, the company started to flourish.
The company encouraged the residents of Juodkrantė to take part in the amber excavation too. It needed cheap labour force. As the volume of work increased, spacious barracks were built in the northern periphery of Juodkrantė, a ship repair shop and a quay were opened as well as workshops for the production of the divers’ clothes were set up. Gradually, Juodkrantė turned into an industrial town.
The works of amber excavation were carried out only in the summertime, which was around three shifts working 30 weeks per year. Lifted from the bed of the lagoon, amber had to be cleaned and detached from other materials. From 1860 to 1890, approximately 75,000 kilograms of amber were excavated on average per year. As the excavation of amber started to slump, a contract for the excavation was not renewed in 1890. Therefore, the excavation works in Juodkrantė stopped.
When digging a port in the bay, a collection of amber ware from the middle of the Neolithic period as well as the Bronze Age was discovered on the bed of the lagoon.
Richard Klebs, an advisor to the company V. Stantien and M. Becker and professor at the University of Königsberg, deserved most for preserving the collection. He has described the treasure in his book Amber Jewellery of the Stone Age. Therefore, quite often the treasure is named after him. Having organised exhibitions in various cities of the world, this treasure became notorious and famous in the whole world. After the WWII, only 5 findings survived out of the Juodkrantė’s treasure, namely, three human figures, a hanger of phallus shape and a double ornamented disc. Along with other remaining exhibits of the treasure, they are kept in the Museum of Geological Sciences at Goetingen University. According to the descriptions and drawings from the book by Klebs, the painter Bronė Kunkulienė has made two sets of amber moulages, which are currently exhibited in the Amber Museum of Palanga and Mizgiris’ Amber Gallery-Museum in Nida.