Ancient Beads

Ancient Beads

Diverse selection of ancient beads from antiquity to the Medieval period, including Egyptian faience melon beads, Celtic glass beads and beautiful Roman glass and some rare amber beads.

Beads are one of the earliest forms of decoration known to man. Simple beads were made of materials that were available: pierced teeth, bone, shell or stones. Beads are often worn as amulets for good luck or as protection from evil forces.

About 3500 years ago ancient beadmakers in Egypt and Mesopotamia experimented with glazing steatite and making faience. They succeeded in creating glass with three simple components: sand quartz, soda ash and limestone. Various colours could be produced by adding minerals as iron, copper, manganese, cobalt or gold.

In Celtic mythology the 'Evil Eye' was a popular design and beads with this design have been discovered in many Celtic sites across Europe.
The belief in the 'Evil Eye' dates back about 5.000 years and is present in many ancient cultures around the Mediterranean area. Evil eye beads were popularised with the Phoenicians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans.

The Romans learned the glass-making craft after the conquest of Egypt in the 1st century BC. During the 1st century AD the glassblowing technique revolutionized the production and made it possible to produce larger quantities. By adding manganese dioxide Roman glassmakers successfully produced colourless or ‘aqua’ glass for the first time.

Roman glass became a very popular material, used for beads, glass windows, mosaic tiles, tableware pieces etc. Roman glass was traded all over the Roman Empire and far beyond to Central Africa, Scandinavia and via the Silk Route to China.

For the Romans amber was a very expensive and highly appreciated commodity. The Amber Road transported the 'gold of the north' for thousands of years from the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean area.
Amber beads or amulets were very popular and attributed with healing and protective properties. Some Romans carried amber beads and rubbed them in their hands for strength or to calm the nerves.