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Bronze Age Glass and Amber Evidence of Bronze Age long distance exchange

Jeanette Varberg Flemming Kaul Bernard Gratuze 1
1 IRAMAT-CEB - IRAMAT - Centre Ernest Babelon
IRAMAT - Institut de Recherches sur les Archéomatériaux
Abstract : Small beads of glass and amber tell a fascinating story of long distance exchange during the Bronze Age, connecting Egypt and Mesopotamia with South Scandinavia. The beads themselves do not carry any iconography in a narrow sense. However, the material and the colour of the glass beads and of the amber beads may entail a deeper meaning related to Bronze Age religion and cosmology. During the last decades, the methods related to chemical analyses of ancient glass have improved dramatically, complemented by the increasing amount of material available for comparative studies. By recognizing different chemical trace elements related to the vitreous material itself as well as the colorant, it is now possible to identify glass from Egypt and Mesopotamia, and to distinguish glass from these two principal production areas of the Middle Bronze Age. It is also possible identify glass from the later glass production workshops in Northern Italy, in the Po Plain, such as Frattesina (after c. 1200 BC) (Walton et al. 2009; Shortland 2012; Walton et al. 2012; Gratuze 2013; Rehren & Freestone 2015). Thus, every glass bead, from well dated Danish burial contexts, can reveal a history of Bronze Age long distance exchange networks. Only Mesopotamian and Egyptian glass has been identified in the Danish Bronze Age bead material.
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Contributor : Bernard Gratuze <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 6, 2020 - 2:35:11 PM
Last modification on : Friday, January 15, 2021 - 1:27:19 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02890650, version 1


Jeanette Varberg, Flemming Kaul, Bernard Gratuze. Bronze Age Glass and Amber Evidence of Bronze Age long distance exchange. Adoranten, Tanumshede, Sweden : Tanums Hällristningsmuseum Underslös. Scandinavian Society for Prehistoric Art., 2020, Adoranten 2019, pp.5-29. ⟨halshs-02890650⟩



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