TRADING ON AND BEYOND THE FRONTIER
During the reign of the emperor Nero ( A.D. 54-68), a young Roman serving as the agent of the merchant Julianus undertook a trading expedition to the Baltic. Leaving from the great legionary fortress and trading town of Camuntum on the Danube, he and his men traveled some 600 miles north along one of the most well known of the trade routes into free Germany. This route led northward up the valley of the March, through the Moravian Gates, and into the German plain. From the upper Oder, the trail proceeded toward Kalisz in upper Poland, where it reached the lower Vistula and the famous "Amber Coast" of the Baltic. The trip from Camuntum along the amber route to the Baltic took about two months, although a merchant passing this way could spend considerably longer if he stopped to bargain at the numerous trading posts that lay along the route and offered travelers accommodations and the opportunity to purchase local wares. 1 Needless to say, this was not a new trail, but one that had existed from prehistoric times, joining Baltic and Mediterranean lands. The young Roman trailblazer's adventures were well publicized, however, and the large amount of amber he brought back helped to focus Roman attention on this and other products of the North.
Amber quickly became an object of fascination for the Romans, and gladiatorial, circus, and theater performances sometimes featured displays of crude amber, amber jewelry, and amber-colored accessories. Amber, the fossilized resin of prehistoric forests, possesses a number of unusual qualities that particularly intrigued the Romans. Soft to the