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Tiny Ancient Lapis Lazuli, Agate, and Quartz Beads with Silver Spacers


Swat Valley


Agate, Quartz, Lapis Lazuli, Silver


The necklace is 25 3/8 inches (64 cm) in length. The necklace weighs 27.6 gm.







A necklace of twenty-five agate and quartz barrel beads alternating with twenty-six lapis lazuli tube beads. Each stone bead is spaced with a ten-ball granulated silver star bead. The agate barrels are 1.45 cm long (at the center of the necklace) and 6.2 mm in width at the center and 4 mm wide on the ends with a 3mm diameter drill perforation to 7 mm in length and 4 mm in width and a drill hole of 2mm diameter at the smallest bead at the back. The lapis beads are of similar size. The rather large diameter drill holes in the agate beads are indicative of an early date; the beads are probably somewhere around 3,000 years old. The beads come from the Swat Valley in what is today Pakistan but what was in ancient times the Kingdom of Uddiyana. The Indian Mauryans introduced Buddhism to the region in the middle of the third century B.C.E. Before that it had been conquered by Alexander the Great, and in the sixth century B.C.E. it had been conquered by the Persians under the rule of Darius I. Subsequent invaders included Graeco-Bactrians from Afghanistan, Scythians from central Asia and Parthians from Iran. In the first century C.E. a nomadic tribe from Asia , the Kushans gained control of what is now Pakistan and most of north India. Kanishka I, the third emperor of the dynasty was a strong supporter of Buddhism. So it is not incorrect to thinkof these beads as “Buddhist beads” as Buddhist art and culture flourished in this area at that time.