Replica Iron Age Beads

I’ve always liked beads, ever since I worked in a bead store in high school and college.  I think most readers of this blog (Hi mom!) probably already know that my dissertation research deals with an examination of Iron Age (500 BC- AD 500) trade networks in Cambodia and Thailand through the analysis of stone and glass beads. One of the major questions I’m examining is where and how some of the stone beads were made.  There is pretty strong evidence that some of the beads may have been made in Southeast Asia,  although my research indicates that stone for the beads was imported from India and it is likely the craftsmen making the beads were Indian as well (based on the technology used to make the beads).  Finished stone beads were likely imported from South Asia too.

Above: Bead sellers outside of Chatuchak market.

All this is to say that I was *so* excited to find that bead-makers in Thailand have been making replicas of the very same beads I’ve been studying.  I found  the first replicas along a street near Wat Chanasongkhram and the rest I found outside Chatuchak market (along Kampaeng Phet Road).  The prices seem to vary around 100-250 baht a piece. Pictures after the jump.

These notched agate pendants (above) are replicas of similar pendants found in burials in Northeast Thailand. The example below is from Noen U-Loke (via Theunissen et al. 2000).

These two jumping lions (above) are replicas of the famous lion found at Ban Don Ta Phet below (similar figurines have been found at other sites in SEA as well).

Image above from: Glover, I C. 1989. Early Trade Between India and Southeast Asia: A Link in the Development of a World Trading System. Hull: Centre for South-East Asian Studies, 1989.

I would LOVE to find out more about these beads.  One of the bead sellers said they were specifically being made in Lopburi province.  If anyone has any information on where I should look or who I could talk to, please feel free to contact me.

If you’d like to learn more, I have a couple articles in print now about some of the research I’ve done on the stone and glass beads:

This article is in Thai and co-authored with Dr. Thanik Lertcharnrit on beads from the site of Promtin Thai in Lopburi province. There is also an English abstract and it was published in the journal Muang Boran.

This article is on glass beads from Iron Age sites in Cambodia published in the most current issue of the IPPA Bulletin.

-Lastly, there is this earlier post on why you shouldn’t buy ancient beads.

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One response to “Replica Iron Age Beads

  1. Very interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing the replicas. And maybe going to see them in person some day!