Accepted paper:

Chemical analysis of Iron Age glass beads from Kiwulan, Taiwan


Kuan-Wen Wang (University of Sheffield)
Yi-Kong Hsieh
Caroline Jackson (University of Sheffield)
Yoshiyuki Iizuka (Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica)

Paper short abstract:

This research analyses Iron Age glass beads from Kiwulan in northeastern Taiwan by EPMA and LA-ICP-MS, in an attempt to understand the relationship to glass beads in contemporary Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Paper long abstract:

This research investigates glass beads unearthed from Kiwulan, a site in northeastern Taiwan. The C-14 data for the finds location suggests an Iron Age date around the 6th to 14th century AD. EPMA and LA-ICP-MS are used in this research to establish the chemical grouping of the glass beads through major, minor and trace elemental patterns. The results reveal the presence of m-Na-Al glass and plant ash glass in similar proportions. The m-Na-Al glass shows low U and high Ba, Sr and Zr, which probably suggests the similarity to m-Na-Al 1 glass in contemporary Southeast Asia. The colour of most of the m-Na-Al glass is orange, while in plant ash glass both yellow and blue glass are found.

Further to these findings, some glass beads have a blue glass body made of plant ash but an orange surface made of m-Na-Al glass. This particular glass is also found in the northern Taiwan site of Shihsanhang, but is rarely reported in contemporary Southeast Asia. Further comparison between glass beads from Kiwulan and Shihsanhang generally suggests similar typology and chemical composition in certain groups of glass beads, and thus may indicate the possibility of similar source, or exchange, of these glass beads in northern Taiwan.

panel P18
Ancient ornaments around the South China Sea: style, technology, provenance and circulation