Phoenician eye bead

Price: on request
Object number
Object: Phoenician eye bead

Material: Opaque glass with polychrome glass decorations. Remains of a brown coating in the hole.

Period: 4th century BC to 3rd century BC.
Height of the Carthaginian Empire.

Description:    Cylindrical bead with a large hole. It consists of turquoise glass, decorated with white and blue circles and yellow and white knobs.
Beads of this type are known as eye beads because archaeologists interpret the decorations as a highly stylized face. The circles are the eyes and the knobs are ears or earrings. The bead thus fulfilled a protective function against the "evil eye" (see E. M. Stern, B. Schlick-Nolte, Early Glass of the Ancient World, p. 195).

Background: Eye beads were popular in the ancient Mediterranean. The example presented here is of typical Phoenician design and was made either in the capital Carthage or in the Phoenician homeland on the Levant. During production the bead was formed around a rod. In its place is now the large hole for threading. At the time of manufacture, Carthage dominated the trade in the Mediterranean world. Thus, the popular glass beads were widely distributed along the Phoenician trade routes.

Dimensions: 11mm diameter. Approx. 3mm diameter of the hole.

Condition: Very good condition with a few chips on the body and loose layers, but these do not impede the great overall impression.

Provenance: Acquired by us on the British art market in 2022. Previously owned by a British family. Acquired in 1983 from the Swiss Oswald Burchard Collection. Mr. Burchard acquired the bead from the M. Hess collection, which was auctioned by Hôtel Jura in Basel. An earlier provenance from the Giorgio Sangiorgi (1886–1960) collection is passed down in a note.

References: Cf. E. M. Stern, B. Schlick-Nolte, Early Glass of the Ancient World, p. 195, no. 39 and p. 198, no. 41.
Cf. S. Moscati, I Fenici, p. 484 and 489.

Literature: For an overview on ancient and antique beads we recommend L. Sherr Dubin, The History of Beads.
A comprehensive work on the archaeology and history of the Phoenicians is S. Moscati, I Fenici.

Authenticity: We unconditionally guarantee the authenticity of every artefact, all items are subject to our lifetime return policy on authenticity.