Vol. 72 No. 4 (2020)
Research Article

Early medieval large glass beads from Poland: utilitarian and social functions

Aleksandra Pankiewicz
Institute of Archaeology, University of Wrocław, Szewska 48, PL-50-139 Wrocław
Sylwia Siemianowska
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Centre for Late Antique and Early Medieval Studies, Więzienna 6, PL-50-118 Wrocław

Published 01-12-2020


  • glass beads,
  • chemical composition,
  • microscopic analysis,
  • Early Middle Ages,
  • Poland,
  • social changes
  • ...More

How to Cite

Pankiewicz, A., & Siemianowska, S. (2020). Early medieval large glass beads from Poland: utilitarian and social functions. Archeologické Rozhledy, 72(4), 573–606. https://doi.org/10.35686/AR.2020.20


The study focuses on the early medieval large glass beads from the area of Poland, i.e. specimens whose diameter equals at least 1.5 cm but usually ca. 2 cm or more. The main aim of this study is to define their function, considering the precise context of discovery of particular specimens, metric data and microscopic analyses. Another important task of the study is to determine whether large beads were local products or imports, and from which region and in what social circumstances they reached the studied area. Alongside macroscopic and stylistic features, the chemical composition of glass that was used for the production of the beads can be conclusive in this situation. In our opinion, it is a special category of finds that appeared in this part of Europe during the time of cultural and political transformation in the 11th–13th centuries.


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