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Faience and Glass Beads from the Late Bronze Age Shipwreck at Uluburun
- Rebecca Suzanne Ingram
- Thesis: May 2005
- Chair: Pulak
Beads are one of the earliest forms of ornamentation created by humans; prized
during the Bronze Age for both their aesthetic as well as amuletic value, beads
also served to signify the social status of the wearer. Beads functioned as an
important trade commodity during the Late Bronze Age, as demonstrated by their
abundance aboard the Uluburun shipwreck. This Late Bronze Age shipwreck,
discovered off the Turkish coast at Uluburun in 1982, dates to approximately
1300 B.C. Thousands of beads of vitreous material were found on the shipwreck,
including approximately 75,000 faience beads and 9,500 glass beads.
and style represented in the faience and glass beads at Uluburun are relatively
simple and are quite common at archaeological sites throughout the Late Bronze
Age Levant. Faience beads found at Uluburun vary widely in form and comprise
eight distinct categories. While the surface glaze remains in rare patches only,
most faience beads exhibit a blue undertone. Other colors, while less common,
include red, yellow, white and turquoise. The glass beads found at Uluburun may
be loosely grouped into two categories, small and large. Many of the large glass
beads exhibit yellow and white spot or crumb decoration, or a combination of
both, and there is a distinctpossibility that all the large glass beads were
decorated in this way, but surface deterioration masks the decoration.
the faience and glass bead categories represent items of cargo, as evidenced by
a concreted lump of small glass beads transported inside a Canaanite jar. Other,
less prolific, bead categories probably represent the personal belongings of the
crew or passengers aboard the ship.
Beads found in archaeological contexts are
notoriously difficult to date due to their extended use throughout generations;
for this reason, the Uluburun beads represent an important contribution to the
archaeological record and bead studies in particular, for the mere fact that
they may be dated by provenance alone to the late 14th century B.C.
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