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Bead Notes


 -- The Archaeology and Anthropology Departments of the National Museum are in the process of moving. Sometime in late 1995 or early 1996 they will be set up on two floors of the Finance Building, across the street from their present home. The Finance Building is at the eastern end of Rizal Park (Luneta), and is a twin of the Tourist Department building which it faces.

The National Museum really has no home. The present Executive Building in which it is housed also holds the courts and jail of Manila and the Senate of the Philippines. So cramped is the museum that a recently purchased skeleton of a whale had to be stored in several nooks and crannies around the building. There is a "master plan" proposed for the museum, in which it would take over the entire Executive, Finance and Tourist buildings, adding connecting walkways and bridges.

The proposal would create an immediate tourist attract that would be hard to beat. As the country continues to climb out of its recent financial situation, we can only hope that the plan will some day become a reality.

SOUTH INDIA -- John Anthony and Pete Francis spent a month visiting villages and archaeological sites in hopes of finding the remnants of the once powerful South Indian stone bead industry. Alas, though it was still operating in the late 1800s, it is now gone.

It remains to be learned what percentage of carnelian, rock crystal and other stone beads found in archaeological sites throughout Southeast Asia came from South India rather than the long-famous West Indian industry, now based in Cambay, Gujarat. Early indications are that the South Indian lapidaries may have been the major suppliers of these beads to customers in Southeast Asia until the 12th or 13th century, when Gujarati merchants, sailing from Cambay, began trading actively in the region. They would have brought stone beads from their local industry, and may have managed to outsell the South Indians in time.

FAIS ISLAND -- Dr. Muchiko Intoh of Japan sent the Center for Bead Research a few glass beads excavated from two burials on this tiny island in the Caroline Group, 180 kms east of Yap. Glass analyses suggest that the small beads around a woman's wrist are Chinese coil beads, but other beads with them include a small gooseberry bead, well known to be from Venice, Italy from early in the 17th century.

This meant the burial was a couple hundred years later than had first been supposed based on radiocarbon dating of some associated shells. Later radiocarbon dating on the human bone confirmed the bead evidence; the burial is most likely 17th century.

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