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Mysteries of the Amber Chamber - restoration of the 8th wonder of the world
Pravda ^ | 07/08/03 | Staff Writer

Posted on 07/08/2003 11:14:34 AM PDT by bedolido

In the old times there were two suns above the Earth. Unfortunately one got broken to pieces; the pieces dropped into the ocean that now casts bits of "the solar stone" ashore. People call these pieces amber.

It is a nice legend about amber; it slightly reminds of the story of creation, loss and restoration of the famous amber chamber in Tsarskoye Selo.

One woman from the Russian city of Rostov was one of the first people who believed that the amber chamber could be restored. What is more, she made first considerable contribution into the reconstruction process.

In 1976, Lyudmila Zaichikova was the director of the Kaliningrad regional history and art museum; at that very time an idea arose to create a museum of amber. A museum of this kind already existed in Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad) before WWII. It was exactly the Koenigsberg museum where Germans first took the Tsarskoye Selo amber chamber in 1942. But at the end of the war the museum exhibits disappeared. Workers of the Kaliningrad museum decided to reconstruct the cultural treasure.

Some collector gave them a book with pictures and drawings of several items once exhibited at the Koenigsberg museum. It was decided to reconstruct some exhibits from the book. The museum officials asked specialists of the Leningrad painting center for help in the reconstruction works. Lyudmila Zaichikova says that they were lucky to have assistance of a very talented artist Henry Khazatsky.

Specialists of the museum settled upon an idea of reconstruction of some pictures from the disappeared amber chamber. It was decided that the size of a reconstructed amber chamber will make up one fifth of the original size of the lost amber chamber.

Soon laborious research work started. Researchers managed to get negatives of amber chamber items. The problem was that the images were black-and-white. It was quite a problem to restore the color spectrum of the solar stone of which the amber chamber was made judging by the negatives. The researchers suggested a brilliant solution: they made up a scale of different amber shades and made a black-and-white picture of the scale. During the reconstruction works the scale of amber shades was compared with the negatives of amber chamber exhibits so that reconstructed items agreed the originals by color.

One more problem that the restorers faced was the natural structure of amber that is called "soapy". Professional experts managed to make the stone look older; they changed the color so that amber was clear. The original sources mentioned some mysterious herb called alkan that helped make amber clear. Unfortunately it was impossible to find the herb; that is why it was decided to hold several experiments when amber was boiled in acids and exposed to rays to achieve better clarity.

All kinds of experiments required money; Lyudmila Zaichikova usually addressed an official overseeing culture problems in the regional administration. She got finance each time she asked. Once when Lyudmila Zaichikova again asked for money necessary for the reconstruction works, the regional administration dropped a hint that the research group must apply to the Soviet Ministry of Culture for financing. Lyudmila sent a written request to the ministry and soon got a telephone call from Moscow. The higher authorities wanted to know for what purpose the researchers from Kaliningrad wanted to get money. The sum necessary for completion of the reconstruction works approached 500,000 rubles. In order to appropriate such a sum the ministry wanted to see items already reconstructed by that moment. When the research group brought already reconstructed large amber picture and two life-sized fragments, a conference hall where governmental sessions were traditionally held was opened especially for the exposition. The exposition was situated close to an office of Culture Minister Yury Melentyev. Within ten days of the exhibition, the period within which a decision on financing of the reconstruction project was discussed, the minister showed the exposition to guests.

Then Lyudmila Zaichikova got back to Kaliningrad, painters got back to Leningrad where they continued working on the project. Soon assistant of the reconstruction works Henry Khazatsky called Lyudmila and said it was ordered to make the items under reconstruction ready for an exposition that would be dedicated to a visit of Leningrad regional Communist Party Committee First Secretary Romanov.

As it turned out, the minister of culture once told Romanov about the wonderful Leningrad restorers working on the amber chamber. The conversation turned out to be decisive for Kaliningrad: as soon as the first secretary of the Leningrad regional communist party committee Romanov learnt about the wonderful exhibits, he never let the amber chamber out of Leningrad. Only once the amber chamber left Leningrad for an exhibition of restoration works held in Paris.

Lyudmila Zaichikova says it was quite a problem to persuade the Leningrad reconstruction team to compensate money spent by Kaliningrad on the works. Soon her family moved to Rostov-on-Don. When Lyudmila learnt that the reconstruction of the amber chamber was completed by the 300th anniversary of St.Petersburg she immediately recollected how the works started many years ago. She had an intention to meet with Henry Khazatsky, whose name for unknown reasons wasn't mentioned in the press in connection with the amber chamber reconstruction. It would be a nice moment to see him and remember how they started the restoration works that later developed into complete reconstruction of the amber chamber.

Read the original in Russian: http://districts.pravda.ru/districts/2003/9/30/87/11975_yantar.html (Translated by: Maria Gousseva)


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Russia
KEYWORDS: amber; amberchamber; amberroom; chamber; germany; godsgravesglyphs; museums; mysteries; russia; wwii

1 posted on 07/08/2003 11:14:34 AM PDT by bedolido
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2 posted on 07/08/2003 11:15:51 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: strela; hchutch
You gentlemen may find this interesting.
3 posted on 07/08/2003 11:23:11 AM PDT by El Sordo
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To: El Sordo; Poohbah
Thanks.
4 posted on 07/08/2003 11:27:51 AM PDT by hchutch (The National League needs to adopt the designated hitter rule.)
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To: bedolido
A possible solution to the mystery of the loss of the Amber Room ...


5 posted on 07/08/2003 11:28:44 AM PDT by BlueLancer (Der Elite Møøsenspåånkængruppen ØberKømmååndø (EMØØK))
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To: BlueLancer
the solution.........?

Did it go down on the ship?
6 posted on 07/08/2003 11:31:48 AM PDT by EggsAckley ( "Aspire to mediocracy"................new motto for publik skools.............)
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To: EggsAckley
From what I understand, there were reports of a "last-minute" addition to the cargo ... a quantity of large heavy crates guarded by SS-troops, who were also placed aboard as guards. The rumors were handed down and persisted that inside the crates was the disassembled Amber Room.

Who knows ... it is one explanation. It seems strange that few (and then only very small) pieces of the room have ever come to light after the war.

7 posted on 07/08/2003 11:37:34 AM PDT by BlueLancer (Der Elite Møøsenspåånkængruppen ØberKømmååndø (EMØØK))
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To: blam
FYI
8 posted on 07/08/2003 11:41:48 AM PDT by John Beresford Tipton
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To: John Beresford Tipton
Do you have a bigger picture of this chamber? It sounds interesting.
9 posted on 07/08/2003 11:47:41 AM PDT by Lost and Confused (<---- n00b!)
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To: El Sordo; hchutch
An interesting article - thanks for pinging me to it.

Researchers managed to get negatives of amber chamber items. The problem was that the images were black-and-white. It was quite a problem to restore the color spectrum of the solar stone of which the amber chamber was made judging by the negatives. The researchers suggested a brilliant solution: they made up a scale of different amber shades and made a black-and-white picture of the scale. During the reconstruction works the scale of amber shades was compared with the negatives of amber chamber exhibits so that reconstructed items agreed the originals by color.

Brilliant indeed. Pound for pound, as proven in their space program and just in everyday life, Russians routinely prove themselves to be the best practical engineers on the planet. They seem to have something that the pioneers of the American West had, and something sadly that we seem to have lost.

10 posted on 07/08/2003 11:48:02 AM PDT by strela ("Each of us can find a maggot in our past which will happily devour our futures." Horatio Hornblower)
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To: strela
You can praise Russians, but is it necessary to demean Americans?
11 posted on 07/08/2003 11:50:25 AM PDT by OldFriend ((BUSH/CHENEY 2004))
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To: msdrby
ping
12 posted on 07/08/2003 11:53:59 AM PDT by Prof Engineer (I'm a man, But I can change, If I have to, I guess)
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To: Lost and Confused
Try these links ...

Amber Room Web Page

The Amber Room


13 posted on 07/08/2003 11:54:36 AM PDT by BlueLancer (Der Elite Møøsenspåånkængruppen ØberKømmååndø (EMØØK))
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To: OldFriend
You can praise Russians, but is it necessary to demean Americans?

I honestly don't believe that I did. I was very careful to note that Americans had the capacity to do the same thing and had the same skills. Whether we still do is an arguable point, and one that I'd love to debate.

When you have nothing, being a good practical engineer is a survival skill, which I happen to believe that many Russians are. Say what you will, our society is rich and even the poorest among us live in conditions that many in the rest of the world would kill to have. (And that's a good thing, in my opinion). When was the last time that you saved tin foil? Or string? Or newspapers? When was the last time you had to?

14 posted on 07/08/2003 12:11:08 PM PDT by strela ("Each of us can find a maggot in our past which will happily devour our futures." Horatio Hornblower)
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To: Lost and Confused
You messaged me my mistake, I have no pictures.
15 posted on 07/08/2003 12:59:36 PM PDT by John Beresford Tipton
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To: John Beresford Tipton
Thanks, I'm slightly familiar with the Amber Chamber.
16 posted on 07/08/2003 3:18:07 PM PDT by blam
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To: strela
Brilliant indeed. Pound for pound, as proven in their space program and just in everyday life, Russians routinely prove themselves to be the best practical engineers on the planet.

Not all that brilliant.  A densitometry reading of black and white amber colors
should yield up something like a color guide.  

This is brilliance:::

At one time, black and white cameras were lofted on rockets
from the Alabama Rocket Center or whatever it was called.
The cameras took pictures of the stars above the atmosphere
or however high they went, then the camera was parachuted from
the rocket, retrieved, and the film developed.

On one mission, they recovered the film and developed it only
to find the camera F-stop setting had been set way too high,
that is, the aperture was too small, and the black and white
negatives severely underexposed.  Useless.  So they gave the film
to an engineering student at Alabama and told her anything she
could do would be appreciated, but the mission was written off.

After some contemplation, the student had the film irradiated to
make is slightly radioactive, then made contact prints from the
negatives using only the radioactive silver molecules as source
of exposure.  It worked, the mission was saved.  Now that's
brilliance!
17 posted on 07/08/2003 9:19:24 PM PDT by gcruse (There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women[.] --Margaret Thatcher)
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To: OldFriend
See #17.
18 posted on 07/08/2003 9:20:03 PM PDT by gcruse (There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women[.] --Margaret Thatcher)
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To: gcruse
Not all that brilliant.

I beg to differ. The deed was done within the confines of a crushing dictatorship, with little or no money to back the research, and in a society that otherwise expects mediocrity. The idea described in the story was like seeing a sparkling 5-carat diamond in the middle of a cesspool.

As for your example in the US space program, it was brilliant as well. And nobody is disparaging the quality of the minds in US universities and in the US space program. But, where we can pretty much always afford to launch another spacecraft to garner the same data, Russians have to get creative to do the same thing in many cases.

I am an American, and I am proud to be one. But, I firmly believe in giving credit where credit is due. The fact that a country almost completely devastated by World War II, crippled by a horrible form of government, and suffering under institutional corruption that makes our occasional bad cop or public official look like the Knights of the Round Table missed beating us to the Moon by an eyelash in time is extraordinary. I have a firm respect for Russians in general and their intelligence and enterpreneurial spirit in particular.

19 posted on 07/08/2003 11:47:10 PM PDT by strela ("Each of us can find a maggot in our past which will happily devour our futures." Horatio Hornblower)
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To: strela
The point was not giving credit, it was taking that opportunity to disparage America.
20 posted on 07/09/2003 4:34:51 AM PDT by OldFriend ((BUSH/CHENEY 2004))
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To: OldFriend
And I maintain that I did not "disparage America."
21 posted on 07/09/2003 9:44:15 AM PDT by strela ("Each of us can find a maggot in our past which will happily devour our futures." Horatio Hornblower)
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