Cast glass beads and pendants
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Latter half of the 16th - 13th century B.C.
- H-4.9 D-1.2 W-2.9
Molten glass was poured into an open mold to form these square pale blue glass beads. The same shape of bead was then decorated with two different patterns. Beads with the first decoration pattern have five parallel ribs on the top surface. There are large and small versions of this type. Beads with the other decoration pattern have a diagonally arranged lattice pattern sided by two groups of ribbed lines to form a three-row design. The backs of the beads are flat. Both types of beads have two parallel holes piercing their sides. When strung together they would have formed a wide necklace. This pale blue colored glass is thought to have been created to imitate rare and costly turquoise and lapis lazuli stones. Many of these beads have a yellowish iridescence.
This pale blue glass pendant is decorated with a relief carved image of a nude female. Cast in an open mold, the back of this pendant is smooth and flat. This image of a woman, holding her hands to her chest, emphasizing her abundant hips, is thought to represent the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility, Ishtar (in Canaan this goddess was known as Astarte). A hole extends vertically from the top of the woman's head to the base of the pendant, and the pendant was probably worn as an amulet. Molded clay figurines of the same type of female image which could have been used as an offertory items were widely distributed throughout West Asia during the 2nd millenium BC. This glass work may have had a similar purpose.
This is a fragment of a pale blue glass disk pendant, which was made in an open mold. The lower half has been lost, but originally the pendant would have shown an 8-pointed star centered on the center of the disk. The presumed motif of round spots distributed between the points of the star was expressed in relief form. The center of the circle is highly built up. The hanging ring is wide and has been decorated with a horizontal ribbed motif, and there is a hole which opens from the side. The back is flat. There is irideceence on the surface. Gold pendants with this same type of star motif are widely known throughout West Asia. This motif is thought to be a symbol of the fertility goddess Ishtar. The pendant would have been worn as an amulet in the same manner as female-image pendants, or would have been similarly used as an offering.
The production of glass is thought to have begun at the end of the 3rd millenium BC in Mesopotamia. The first glass vessels were used in the latter half of the 16th century BC and have been excavated from areas within the cultural sphere of the Mitanni kingdom of the Hurrian peoples who ruled northern Mesopotamia during this period. Highly refined techniques were in use by this time period and they were used to create vessels in a variety of shapes, decorated in diverse manners. These pale blue glass square beads, female images, circular disk pendants with either no design or star patterns are representative glass works made during the same period as the earliest glass vessels. Excavated examples of these forms have been found primarily in northern Mesopotamia, and others have been found in Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Myceanae.
Latter half of the 16th‐13th century B.C.
Square beads with ribbed pattern: 1.9-2.9×1.9-2.9 cm, Thickness 0.8-0.9 cm
Pendant in the shape of women: H. 4.9 cm, W. 2.4 cm, Thickness 1.1 cm
Star disk pendant: H. 3.5 cm, Dia. (suggested) 5.0 cm, Thickness 1.2 cm
These beads and pendants made of blue glass are of a type widely
distributed from the latter half of the 16th century BC through the latter half of the 2nd millennium BC across southern Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean, with production centered in northern Mesopotamia, Syria and Palestine. These beads were cast in open molds and their backs are flat. The square beads had the largest distribution, ranging from Mycenae through northwestern Iran. The pendant depicting a nude female shows the woman facing forward with both arms clasping her breasts from below in an exaggerated pose. This design can also be found on many pieces of pottery and it could possibly be a symbol of fertility. Half of the round pendant is now missing but it originally had a semi-circular protrusion in the center and would have formed a eight-pointed star. This astronomical design was the symbol of the goddess Istal in western Asia and probably represents Venus. The blue color used here is suitable for this image of the goddess whose name means Lady of Heaven. This type of glass bead and pendant was found in the greatest variety in Nuzi in northern Mesopotamia, and it is highly likely that this bead and pendant time was then distributed from Nuzi throughout the rest of the Mediterranean area. There are examples of these beads as offertory goods at temples in Mycenae.