Roman baubles found in ancient Japanese tomb

Glass jewellery believed to have been made by Roman craftsmen has been found in an ancient tomb in Japan, researchers said Friday, in a sign the empire’s influence may have reached the edge of Asia.

Tests have revealed three glass beads discovered in the Fifth Century “Utsukushi” burial mound in Nagaoka, near Kyoto, were probably made some time between the first and the fourth century, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties said.

The government-backed institute has recently finished analysing components of the glass beads, measuring 5mm in diametre, with 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 empire, which succeeded the Roman Republic in 27 BC and was ultimately ended by the Fall of Constantinople 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 one of the oldest multilayered glass products found in Japan, and very rare accessories that were believed to be 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 Sea and stretched northwards to occupy present-day England. The finding in Japan, some 10 000 kilometres from Italy, may shed some light on how far east its influence reached, Tamura said.

“It will also lead to further studies on how they could have got all the way to Japan,” she said. – AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Where do Africans study abroad?

China is becoming the preferred destination for countries such as Ghana and Nigeria

The first undeniable climate change deaths

In Japan, in 2018, more than 1 000 people died during an unprecedented heat wave. In 2019, scientists proved it would have been impossible without global warming

Argentina ex-president Macri accused of spying on 400 journalists

The complaint states that the background checks on journalists were "neither ordered nor authorised by any magistrate"

Covid-19: A case for why we all should wear homemade face masks

Countries that have mandated mask-wearing for people going out in public have shown a decrease in the rate of Covid-19 infections

Hindsight is 2020 for Japan

Tokyo has a history of cancelled Olympics – but a different type of war caused it to cancel in 1940

Develop the Advanced Manufacturing Institute to increase SA’s competitiveness

The institute should develop products that are applicable to different industries, such as 3D-imaging and self-driving cars
Advertising

Subscribers only

SAA bailout raises more questions

As the government continues to grapple with the troubles facing the airline, it would do well to keep on eye on the impending Denel implosion

ANC’s rogue deployees revealed

Despite 6 300 ANC cadres working in government, the party’s integrity committee has done little to deal with its accused members

More top stories

Fake trafficking news targets migrants

Exaggerated reports on social media of human trafficking syndicates snatching people in broad daylight legitimate xenophobia while deflecting from the real problems in society

It’s not a ‘second wave’: Covid resurges because safety measures...

A simple model shows how complacency in South Africa will cause the number of infections to go on an upward trend again

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion

Unisa shortlists two candidates for the vice-chancellor job

The outgoing vice-chancellor’s term has been extended to April to allow for a smooth hand-over
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday