Archaeometric analysis of some scythian and celtic glass beads from Hungary

Osváth Zsófia, I. Fórizs, Máté Szabó, Bernadett Bajnóczi

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We have analysed six Iron Age glass beads from Hungary (three Scythian stratified eye beads with bosses from Mezotúr, two Celtic bobbin beads and one Celtic simple eye bead from Vác-Kavicsbánya) with handheld X-ray fluorescence (hXRF), micro-X-ray diffraction (μ-XRD) and electron microprobe analysis (EMPA) methods. Our aim was to determine the provenance of the beads, including the sources of the raw materials, and/or the production centres, since archaeological data about their provenance are ambiguous. The base glass of the beads (soda-lime-silicate glass) as well as their colourants (calcium antimonate for white, cobalt and copper for blue, iron-bearing lead antimonate for yellow) are similar and have parallels in the Iron Age Europe and the Mediterranean region (e.g. LBA Egypt, Celtic glass bracelets spread in La Tène coine, Vicenice (Czech Republic) in Late Hallstatt period, and ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica in the Black Sea region). In addition, we identified a "new" colouring technique for Iron Age yellow glass beads, namely the use of ironbearing lead antimonate that had been determined only sporadically in ancient world, for example LBA Egypt, then in the glasses of the Roman Empire. Although the mentioned parallels do not make clear the provenance of beads, according to archaeological data, Scythian beads with bosses most probably came from Greek colonies near the Black Sea through secondary trade connections, whereas the Celtic simple eye bead has three possible origins (Italy, Rhodes and Pontus), and the Celtic bobbin beads have unambiguous provenance according to the present archaeometric data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
JournalArcheometriai Muhely
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018



  • Bead
  • Celtic
  • Lead antimonate
  • Scythian
  • Soda-lime-silicate glass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology

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