Sunday, June 24, 2012
Roman jewelry found in Kyoto tomb
Glass jewelry believed to have been made by Roman craftsmen has been found in an ancient tomb near Kyoto, researchers said, in a sign the empire's influence may have reached the edge of Asia.
Unearthed: This glass bead found in a tomb near Kyoto is thought to be of Roman origin.
Tests have revealed that three glass beads discovered in the fifth-century Utsukushi burial mound in Nagaoka, Kyoto Prefecture, were probably made sometime between the first and fourth centuries A.D., according to the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.
The government-backed institute has recently finished analyzing components of the 5-mm glass beads, which have tiny fragments of gilt attached.
It found that the light yellow beads were made with natron, a chemical used to melt glass by craftsmen in the Roman Empire, which succeeded the Roman Republic in 27 B.C. and ultimately ended with the fall of Constantinople — present-day Istanbul — in 1453.
The beads, which have a hole through the middle, were made with a multilayering technique, a relatively sophisticated method in which craftsmen piled up layers of glass, often sandwiching gold leaf in between.
"They are some of the oldest multilayered glass products found in Japan, and very rare accessories that are believed to have been made in the Roman Empire and sent to Japan," said Tomomi Tamura, a researcher at the institute.
The Roman Empire was concentrated around the Mediterranean and stretched northward to occupy present-day England. The finding may shed some light on how far east the empire's influence reached, Tamura said.
"It will also lead to further studies on how they could have got all the way to Japan," she said.
Roman jewelry found in Kyoto tomb | The Japan Times Online