Jonathan Mark Kenoyer

Bead Technology of the Indus Tradition: New Discoveries of Stone, Faience, and Glass Bead Making in Pakistan and India


This illustrated lecture will summarize the recent discoveries relating to the production and use of beads and other perforated ornaments during the Indus tradition of Pakistan and Western India. While the main focus will be on the development of technology and styles, it will also present new evidence for the interface between stone bead making and artificial stone coloring and manufacture. The continuities and changes in bead styles will also be covered along with evidence for the role of beads in economics and ideology.

The earliest stone and shell beads have been discovered at the Neolithic site of Mehrgarh, Pakistan (circa 7000-5500 BC). A range of drilling techniques allowed an increasing variety of beads to be produced during the subsequent Early Harappan period (circa 3300-2800 BC). A dramatic increase in stone and faience bead making is seen during the urban Harappan period (2600-1900 BC). Important new drilling techniques include the use of “Ernestite” stone drills and tubular copper drills with abrasives. During the Late Harappan (1900-1300 BC) period, a range of new raw materials are used and new technologies are developed to create stone, faience, and for the first time, glass beads.