Etched (carnelian) beads from northeast and southeast Arabia

The authors look at the evidence of approximately 70 etched/bleached carnelian beads found from sites along the Arabian shores of the Persian Gulf (in Bahrain, Oman and the UAE) and hypothesize that these beads were imported from workshops on the Indian subcontinent, whether through direct or indirect contacts.

From the abstract: "Etched beads from northeast and southeast Arabia are usually not cited in connection with east-west trade, because they remain unknown to most scholars. There is ample evidence, however, from sites on the Arabian shores of the Persian Gulf that the region participated in active trade during several periods. Etched beads are one of the commodities testifying to the existence of maritime links. A high percentage of the etched beads found belong to the Early Bronze Age and the Pre-islamique recent (PIR)-period, although other periods are also represented."

Chronologically, etched beads are commonly classified into three groups: Group A (Early Bronze) — pre-2000 BCE; Group B (Late Bronze) —300 BCE-AD 200; and Group C (PIR)—AD 600–1000. Each of these groups is characterized by different designs. Depending on the period, etched beads were widespread in the western regions of Asia from Syria/Jordan to Turkey, Mesopotamia and Iran, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and in the east from India to China and Thailand.

For more discussion on carnelian bead production and site-by-site evidence from Bahrain, Oman and the UAE, please read the article below!

A. De Waele & E. Haerinck, Etched (carnelian) beads from northeast and southeast Arabia, Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy, vol. 17 n° 1, 2006: 31-40, 5 fig.

Above: Etched beads from Harappa