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Glass Beads, Markers of Ancient Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa: Methodology, State of the Art and Perspectives

1
Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, Hatfield 0028, South Africa
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Sorbonne Université, CNRS, MONARIS UMR8233, 4 Place Jussieu, 75005 Paris, France
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School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
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Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, PO Wits 2050, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Heritage 2019, 2(3), 2343-2369; https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage2030144
Received: 5 May 2019 / Revised: 23 July 2019 / Accepted: 2 August 2019 / Published: 6 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Archaeological Heritage)
Glass beads have been produced and traded for millennia all over the world for use as everyday items of adornment, ceremonial costumes or objects of barter. The preservation of glass beads is good and large hoards have been found in archaeological sites across the world. The variety of shape, size and colour as well as the composition and production technologies of glass beads led to the motivation to use them as markers of exchange pathways covering the Indian Ocean, Africa, Asia, Middle East, the Mediterranean world, Europe and America and also as chronological milestones. This review addresses the history of glass production, the methodology of identification (morphology, colour, elemental composition, glass nanostructure, colouring and opacifying agents and secondary phases) by means of laboratory based instruments (LA-ICP-MS, SEM-EDS, XRF, NAA, Raman microspectroscopy) as well as the mobile instruments (pXRF, Raman) used to study glass beads excavated from sub-Saharan African sites. Attention is paid to the problems neglected such as the heterogeneity of glass (recycled and locally reprocessed glass). The review addresses the potential information that could be extracted using advanced portable methods of analysis. View Full-Text
Keywords: trade; beads; glass; pigments; provenance; Africa; Asia; Mediterranean world trade; beads; glass; pigments; provenance; Africa; Asia; Mediterranean world
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Koleini, F.; Colomban, P.; Pikirayi, I.; Prinsloo, L.C. Glass Beads, Markers of Ancient Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa: Methodology, State of the Art and Perspectives. Heritage 2019, 2, 2343-2369.

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