Trade and Exchange Networks in Iron Age Cambodia: Preliminary Results from a Compositional Analysis of Glass Beads

Alison Kyra Carter


Beads made of glass and stone found at Iron Age period sites (500 BC – AD 500) in Southeast Asia are amongst the first signs for sustained trade and sociopolitical contact with South Asia. Because of this, they have become important artifacts for scholars wishing to better understand trade networks and sociopolitical development during this period. Using compositional analysis scholars can identify the recipes used to make these glass beads and in some cases this can be tied back to specific places or time periods. Current research indicates there were multiple glass bead production centers across South and Southeast Asia during this period. However there has not yet been a comprehensive examination of glass beads from Iron Age sites in Cambodia. This paper aims to fill this gap by presenting the results from a compositional analysis of glass beads from six Iron Age sites in Cambodia. Using a virtually non-destructive compositional technique (LA-ICP-MS), I was able to determine the presence of at least two glass bead-trading networks in Cambodia during the Iron Age.

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