Glass bead with face, Cyprus

This 2500-year-old cylindrical glass bead features a human face on both sides. The eyes were made of concentric circles of different coloured glass during the production process, while the protruding nose and dots at top and bottom were applied afterwards.

The bead was made around a sand core, fragments of which are still visible inside.

The bead is just under 3cm tall and dates to the Iron Age, around 480–310BC. It is believed to have been excavated before 1871 by Luigi Palma di Cesnola, later the first Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The bead was possibly used as an amulet to protect against the Evil Eye, a power by which some people and animals are thought to bring harm to others simply by looking at them. Bold or colourful amulets like this are said to work by diverting the Evil Eye's gaze away from the wearer towards the amulet instead. Such amulets are still used in some areas of the world.

Accession number: PRM Founding Collection: 1884.76.142

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