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Rare bead found in ancient Chinese tomb

CHANGSHA - An unusually shaped bead was discovered in a tomb dating from the Warring States (475-221 B.C.) period, showing evidence of early cultural exchange between China and the West.

Measuring 3.1 centimeters and weighing 38.4 grams, the bead has several horns decorated with concentric circles, according to Hunan Institute of Archaeology.

"It is in blue and white and incomplete, with only seven horns remaining around a base bead," said Xi Peishen, head of the excavation team with the institute. "It looks like the compound eye of a dragonfly."

The bead was discovered in a tomb complex in Zhongfang county, Hunan province, in 2017.

Around 200 tombs from between the Warring States period and the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 25 A.D.) have been found since the excavation work started in 2012.

Xi said that the horned eye bead was made of lead-barium glass, which was peculiar to China, and the horned eye-shape was a rare discovery.

"These eye-shaped beads [MG_SEO]were used as a decoration on clothes, furniture and accessories in China," he said.

They were first discovered in areas such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and India, and introduced to China during the Spring and Autumn (770-476 B.C) and Warring States periods.

Chinese people improved the glass-making by using barium and lead to make such beads.

"The discovery is new evidence that East Asia had close cultural and technological exchanges with West Asia, North Africa and India thousands of years ago," Xi said.

Archeologists also found more than 170 other cultural items including pottery, bronze swords and a bronze dagger-axband messenger bagse during last year's excavation.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201803/16/WS5aabb8cba3106e7dcc142259.html
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