Ancient Agate Barrel Beads with Lapis and Silver
Agate, Lapis Lazuli, Silver
The necklace is 25 3/8 inches (64.4 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 62.5 gm.
A necklace of fifteen agate beads, forty-two lapis lazuli beads and eighteen granulated silver beads. The agate beads are from the early Bronze Age and come from Afghanistan. They are at least four thousand years old (and some are older). Between each of the larger beads is a group of three beads: the outer two are lapis lazuli and the center of the group is a granulated silver bead. There is an extra set of these groups at the back on each side to go behind the neck when the necklace is being worn. The necklace is completed with a silver clasp and beading tips. The lapis lazuli beads are oblate or roughly cylindrical, 5mm-6mm in length and 6 mm- 7mm in width. There are eighteen granulated silver beads. Each of these is composed of fifteen granules fused together to form three rings which are then stacked. The grains in the inner ring are almost twice the size of the grains in the outer rings. The beading tips and clasp repeat the motif. These beads come from Afghanistan. The bead industry in the early Bronze age in this area was dominated by the Indus Valley civilization which produced, among other beads, long carnelian beads of amazing technical accomplishment. The beads from Afghanistan were obviously influenced by, and benefited from their neighboring culture's achievements. However, they were able to develop their own bead industry separate from the Indus Valley products. The forms of the Afghanistan beads are similar but they developed forms that are easily distinguishable and just as technically accomplished. The agate beads they made are some of the finest ever produced by any of the advanced civilizations of the ancient world.