Materials & Techniques

Stones and Beads in the Ancient Mediterranean

Stones adorn ancient jewelry as inlays, pendants, and beads. The harder stones are more difficult to work, but they survive better over time. Stones were first chipped into approximate shapes with various metal and harder stone tools. Flint, for instance, can cut stones as hard as quartz. Some stones were then cut to more precise shapes. Many of the harder stones had to be sanded down to their final form. A bow drill and abrasives were used to make holes in beads.

Glass was employed extensively in ancient times to make beads as well as amulets and inlays. Beads were either cast or worked as described above. Because of the chemical instability of ancient glass, much of what is seen today is corroded, and the true color hidden under an iridesent layer.

Excerpt from

Barbara Deppert-Lippitz, with contributions from Anne R. Bromberg and John Dennis, Ancient Gold Jewelry at the Dallas Museum of Art, (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art in association with the University of Washington Press, 1996), 29.