Sunday, July 08, 2012

Roman beads found in Japan?

Roman beads found in Japan?

Glass beads in a fifth century Japanese tomb near Nagaoka have surprised archaeologists because it is not clear how these objects ended up in ancient Japan. The mystery is that the three beads are suspected to be Roman in origin.

Using Roman techniques

The three glass beads from the tomb have been examined by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. This study showed that the light yellow beads were made with natron (a naturally occurring mixture of sodium carbonate decahydrate and about 17% sodium bicarbonate).

Natron was collected as a salt from dry lake beds in ancient Egypt and used by the ancient Egyptians during the mummification process. Roman craftsmen are known to have used it to melt glass in order to manufacture beads – created by multilayering glass and often sandwiching gold leaf in-between.