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Analyses of Indo-Pacific Glass Beads
Glass analysis is a time-consuming and/or expensive process. I thank Ron Hancock of the University of Toronto for analyzing beads donated to me by the excavators or museums involved in these sites.
All of these sites were Indo-Pacific beadmakers. The questions we asked of the analyses were: 1. Was the glass made in Asia or recycled Western glass? 2. Did one of a few centers make the glass or did each beadmaking center make its own glass?
The first table is from Arikamedu, the "mother site" of the industry. No less than 19 analyses from different sources are available. They show that the red glass was unlike Western glass, as were the other colors. The blue, violet and most of the black glass were colored with wad or bog manganese, which often has some cobalt. Different alkalis were used in the red and other glass colors. Arikamedu Table
Oc-eo is at the southern tip of Vietnam. It was a crafts center in the Funan Empire, which was the trade intermediary between India and China. These analyses were done long ago (I could not get samples in Saigon) and there are weaknesses in them, especially in not having separated the alkalis. However, most of the glass is quite different from Arikamedu glass. Oc-eo Table
Kuala Selinsing, in Malaysia, has glass that is very high in alumina and very low in manganese and stands apart from the other Indo-Pacific glasses and Western glass. The early years of its production may have coincided with Funan, but it is mostly contemporary with Srivijaya, the successor to Funan.Kuala Selinsing Table
Takua Pa, Thailand, was only occupied in the 9th century A.D. It was apparently an outpost of the Srivijayan Empire, based in Sumatra. It is the most analyzed glass of Srivijayan sites. Its glass bears some resemblance to other Srivijayan sites. Takua Pa Table
Four sites are grouped together because there are analyses for them only from this program and consist of only a few analyses each. The sites are not necessarily related to each other. Other Indo-Pacific Beadmakers Tables
Karaikadu is only a little south of Arikamedu and was contemporary with it for a short time. Its glass is so similar to that of Arikamedu that it either used Arikamedu's glass or the same ingredients and recipes.
Khlong Thom, Thailand, was contemporary with Oc-eo and probably the western port of Funan. Its glass is similar to that of Oc-eo, except that the blue looks like an Arikamedu blue. Maybe it imported some glass or wad from India.
Sungai Mas, Malaysia, was a Srivijayan site, succeeding Kuala Selinsing as beadmaker in the region. Vijaya (modern Palembang, Sumatra, Indonesia) was the capital of the Srivijayan polity. The glass of these two sites (and of Takua Pa, but not Kuala Selinsing) look similar. They may have shared a glassmaking center. Arguing against that is: 1. Vijaya made a distinctive green-blue glass not found elsewhere and 2.) We only have a few analyses available for these sites.
We need more data and more analyses. My next move will be to try to have beads from importing sites in Southeast Asia analyzed.
The bibliography contains a list of the Sources the of Analyses
Small Bead Businesses | Beading & Beadwork | Ancient Beads | Trade Beads