Dr Caitlin Green @caitlinrgreen History, archaeology, place-names & early lit. Main research on post-Roman Britain & Anglo-Saxon England; also long-distance trade, migration & contact. Jul. 22, 2018 5 min read

Indo-Pacific beads from Europe to Japan? Another fifth- to seventh-century AD global distribution — new post by me :)  http://www.caitlingreen.org/2018/07/indo-pacific-beads-europe.html 

Some Indo-Pacific beads found in 5th- to 6th-century AD Merovingian graves in France:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352226716300095 

Indo-Pacific beads discovered in the Roman/Early Byzantine cemetery at Qau, Egypt, similar to those discovered in fifth- to sixth-century Europe:  https://blogs.kent.ac.uk/egypt-artefacts/2018/05/30/looking-at-beads/ 

Two necklaces of Indo-Pacific beads found in 5th-century Silla tombs in South Korea:  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mpanKmU_ckYC&lpg=PA115&pg=PA117#v=onepage&q&f=false 

Indo-Pacific beads found on Zanzibar island, Tanzania, and thought to date from around the 6th–7th centuries AD:  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12520-015-0310-z 

For interest, here's the global distribution of 5th- to 7th-century Byzantine material:

The post also discusses L4th-7thC 'Jatim' beads made in Jawa Timur/East Java, Indonesia; one was recovered in 1999 from the Early Byzantine Red Sea port of Berenike, Egypt (image= https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Eyemu-_MncwC&lpg=PA138-IA8&pg=PA138-IA8#v=onepage&q&f=false ).

A 5th- to 7th-century 'Jatim' bead made in Jawa Timur/East Java, Indonesia, from a mixture of Byzantine & Sasanian glass:  https://www.academia.edu/22146727/A_study_of_mid-first_millennium_CE_Southeast_Asian_specialized_glass_beadmaking_traditions_Lankton_et_al_2008_ISEA_ 

An early 'Jatim' bead of c. AD 400, made in Jawa Timur/East Java out of Sasanian Persian glass & found in a Silla tomb in South Korea:  https://www.academia.edu/22146727/A_study_of_mid-first_millennium_CE_Southeast_Asian_specialized_glass_beadmaking_traditions_Lankton_et_al_2008_ISEA_ 

By way of context for the presence of Indo-Pacific beads in 5th- to 7th-century Europe, here's the distribution of other possible Red Sea/Indian Ocean imports in 5th–7thC England (garnet=diamonds, cowries=dots, ivory rings=squares, and amethyst=stars):  http://www.caitlingreen.org/2018/07/indo-pacific-beads-europe.html 

For some examples of early medieval gold polychrome jewellery featuring Indian/Sri Lankan garnets, demonstrating the widespread use of this style in the 5th—7thC, see this thread, , and  https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Thomas_Calligaro2/publication/280954735_Contribution_a_l%27etude_des_grenats_merovingiens_Basilique_de_Saint-Denis_et_autres_collections_du_musee_d%27Archeologie_nationale_diverses_collections_publiques_et_objets_de_fouilles_recentes_Nouvelles_/links/5630707e08ae432a022c3fda/Contribution-a-letude-des-grenats-merovingiens-Basilique-de-Saint-Denis-et-autres-collections-du-musee-dArcheologie-nationale-diverses-collections-publiques-et-objets-de-fouilles-recentes-Nouvelles-a.pdf 

The perhaps late 6th-century Sutton Hoo gold & garnet cloisonné shoulder clasps, w/ hidden intertwined boars with curly tails:  http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=86877&partId=1 

The lovely 7th-century garnet cloisonné brooch from Wijnaldum, the Netherlands, recently confirmed to have been made with Indian garnets from Rajasthan:  http://www.redbot.frl/blog/de-fibula-van-wijnaldum-digitaal-op-archeologie-frl/ 

A cowrie shell from the Red Sea/Indian Ocean, found in a 7th-century grave at Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

A probable elephant ivory ring from an early Anglo-Saxon bag, found at Ruskington, Lincolnshire; well over 100 are known from England and such rings were cut from the base of tusk of an African savannah elephant.

The fifth- or sixth-century AD Escrick Ring, found in Yorkshire, set with a central cabochon sapphire gem probably from Sri Lanka:  https://www.medieval.eu/the-esrick-ring/ 

Seal matrix of Alaric II, King of Visigoths, 484–507 — sapphire intaglio in 16th-century gold ring:  http://www.kornbluthphoto.com/Alaric.html 

For interest, the distribution of Byzantine pottery (black) and coins (red) in 5th- to 7th-century Britain; the Indo-Pacific beads in Europe presumably came via a Byzantine Red Sea port (e.g. 51% of the beads found at the port of Berenike, Egypt, were Indo-Pacific).

Indo-Pacific and other beads found in the Late Antique trash dump trench BE10-59 at Berenike, Egypt:  http://www.ancientportsantiques.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/PLACES/RedSea/Berenike-Sidebotham-Sahara%2021-2010.pdf 

Pepper from India found in a 5th-century AD context at the Early Byzantine port of Berenike, Egypt:  http://gernot-katzers-spice-pages.com/engl/Pipe_nig.html 

A Romano-British spice/pepper container in the shape of an ibex from the 5th-century AD Hoxne Hoard found in Suffolk, on display in the Indo-Roman trade section of the Hotung Gallery, British Museum; photo & fascinating article by @SushmaJansari here:  http://thewonderhouse.co.uk/behind-the-scenes-at-the-british-museum-indo-roman-trade-in-the-hotung-gallery  :)

The 'Empress' pepper pot from the 5th-century Romano-British Hoxne Hoard, found in Suffolk; used for dispensing pepper or another spice at the dining table:  http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1362638&partId=1 

Worth noting that pepper from India continued to be available in NW Europe in the 7th/8th centuries e.g. Chlothar III granted an annual rent of 30 pounds of pepper to Corbie monastery (N. France) in the mid-7thC, and Bede's personal possessions incl pepper when he died in 735 AD.

Interestingly, the same document concerning the monastery of Corbie in northern France (reconfirmed by Chilperic II in 716) also mentions an annual quantity of 2 pounds of cloves, which were only grown in Indonesia—see :)

One interesting feature of the distribution of Indo-Pacific beads is the sheer number found at both extremities of Eurasia — they occur in their thousands and on a significant number of sites in both Late Yayoi/Kofun Japan and Late Antique western Europe...

(Incidentally, the above maps are from  http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935413.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935413-e-46  &  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352226716300095 ; note, the finds of Indo-Pacific beads from Kofun Japan are even more numerous than those from the Yayoi period).

Some Indo-Pacific beads found in Japan; for more on such finds, see 'The Far East, Southeast and South Asia: Indo-Pacific Beads from Yayoi Tombs as Indicators of Early Maritime Exchange', by Oga Katsuhiko & Sunil Gupta —  https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02666030.2000.9628581?needAccess=true 

Of course, not just Indo-Pacific beads found in Kofun Japan; here's a Roman glass bead found in the early 5th-century AD Utsukushi no.1 burial mound in Nagaoka-kyo, Japan:  http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/17691 

Returning to the far west of Eurasia, here's an excellent paper on Red Sea/Indian Ocean trade with western Europe and England in the 5th–7thC focusing on elephant ivory rings:  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=uvN7DgAAQBAJ&lpg=PP1&pg=PA131#v=onepage&q&f=false 

Well over 100 elephant ivory rings—cut from the base of a tusk of an African savannah elephant—are known from 5th- to 7th-century England alone, with many more known from continental cemeteries; the latter are thought to reflect 'a heavy inflow of the material' in the 5th–7thC.

The distribution of Red Sea/Indian Ocean cowrie shells in 6th- to 7th-century NW Europe; like ivory rings, they are found in substantial quantities and over a large geographical range:  https://www.reading.ac.uk/web/files/GCMS/RMS-2006-07_J._Drauschke,_%27Byzantine%27_and_%27oriental%27_imports_in_the_Merovingian_Empire.pdf 

Fwiw, Drauschke notes for NW Europe as a whole that Red Sea/Indian Ocean goods are not only found in large+increasing quantities in the 6th- to 7th-centuries, but are also not 'components only of high-status graves', esp. c.570–680, a point Hills likewise makes for ivory rings…

Importantly, similar points can be made re: the Indo-Pacific beads found in their thousands in early medieval Europe, which occur in graves presenting 'varying “degrees of richness”. The beads thus do not appear to be the prerogative of a privileged few':  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352226716300095 

Two more imported elephant ivory rings found in Anglo-Saxon graves, from Sleaford (Lincolnshire) and Dover (Kent):  http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=96898&partId=1  &  http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?assetId=755613001&objectId=1341153&partId=1 

A 6th-century Frankish bird brooch decorated with Indian garnets and a pearl:  https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/464859 

A cowrie shell from the Red Sea or Indian Ocean found in an Anglo-Saxon grave in Lincolnshire:  http://www.caitlingreen.org/2018/07/indo-pacific-beads-europe.html 

A 7th-centuy Frankish brooch set with garnets and a sapphire that probably originated in Sri Lanka:  https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/465373 

Two pepper pots from the 5th-century Hoxne Hoard, found in Suffolk & used for dispensing pepper or another spice at the dining table; one depicts a hare & hound and the other Hercules & Antaeus:  https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1362635&partId=1&images=true  &  https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1362637&partId=1&place=30519&plaA=30519-3-1&page=1&sortBy=imageName 

Silver tigress from the 5th-century Hoxne hoard, found in Suffolk; a zoomorphic handle from large vase or amphora solid-cast in the form of a rearing tigress:  https://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1362641&partId=1&place=30519&plaA=30519-3-1&sortBy=imageName&page=1 

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