A cache of ~5000 glass beads from the Sibudu Cave Iron Age occupation


  • M. Wood University of the Witwatersrand
  • L. Dussubieux Field Museum, Chicago
  • L. Wadley University of the Witwatersrand


A cache of ~5000 glass beads was recovered from a small pit in an Iron Age layer at Sibudu Cave. The bead strings incorporated brownish-red, blue-green, blue and other colours of glass beads, some copper beads and also two perforated Conus ebraeus shells. A necklace of shell disc-beads interspersed with blue glass beads was also present. Sixteen of the beads were analysed chemically using LA-ICP-MS at the Field Museum, Chicago. The results indicate the beads originated in India. The Iron Age layers have calibrated radiocarbon dates between AD 1020 and 1160 and they incorporate Blackburn facies ceramics. These Blackburn associations seem too early for the types of beads represented and the cache of beads may have been hidden in the shelter in the 1500s or 1600s after the Blackburn occupation.



How to Cite

Wood, M., Dussubieux, L., & Wadley, L. (2009). A cache of ~5000 glass beads from the Sibudu Cave Iron Age occupation. Southern African Humanities, 21, 239–261. Retrieved from https://sahumanities.org/index.php/sah/article/view/353

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