Object of the Month

Glass bead with face, Cyprus


This 2500-year-old cylindrical glass bead features a human face on both sides. The eyes were formed by concentric circles of different coloured glass during the production process, whilst 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 can bring harm to others simply by looking at them. Bold or colourful amulets like this work by diverting the Evil Eye's gaze away from the wearer and into the amulet instead. Such amulets are still used in some areas of the world.

PRM Founding Collection:  1884.76.142

Find this object in a new display of Archaeology in the Upper Gallery as part of the VERVE: Need / Make / Use project.