Neolithic stone pearls from early settlements in Moroccan Sahara - 5000 BC
to approx 1200 AD & 'true' Neolithic beads from Greater India

Sahara became a dessert around 3000 BC. Before that time, it had been in a wet period
dating back at least to 8000 BC. Remnants of several Neolithic settlements in this period can be found in Moroccan Sahara from this period.

However, it must be mentioned that many of the beads displayed here might not be genuinely ancient since it is difficult to define the historical time frame for the Neolithic period in Africa. One could argue that some parts of Africa are still in the Neolithic age. In such cases, the age-patina of the beads is the only indicator we have. The neolithic technique continued to be used, maybe even at some places till today. In the 12th Century Arab, traders brought both 'new' Indian drills and techniques to drill more advanced beads. With them, they also had beads manufactured in India. In Morocco, I have seen quite a lot of old and ancient genuine Indian beads. Before the arrival of Muslim traders, even back in ancient times, beads have been flowing into Africa. Where there has been cultural exchange, one can be assured that beads have been among the first ambassadors to arrive.

The beads
are for sale

through bead ID
for price

NEO 1- Wonderful citrin beads - 12 * 5 mm - SOLD

Note the difference between the beads displayed above and below. They were sourced from the same Neolithic settlements. The ones above are more crude in their shape than the ones below. It is likely that the hunter-gatherer societies in the Sahara did not develop the skills to fine polish and facet stone beads. At least their tools, such as axes, spears, and arrows, show no sign of fine polishing. Therefore it is likely to assume that the more fine-shaped beads came from outside, most probably through contact, maybe even trade with the first more agricultural cultures that had begun to show up in this period.



An example of such a bead exhange you can observe in the picture above. It was found in a Neolithic grave together with a lot of crude shaped beads. However it is standing out as a unique stranger. You can read more about this bead here.



Early Indus Valley tabular disk beads
If you look at the beads super ancient Indus beads below, you will see that they all still have marks of pecking even though they have been after polished on a grinding stone. This is typical for beads from the Neolithic period.

Note the high quality of uniform deep red carnelian.

 CARN - OIV 3 - Average size: 10 * 3 mm

Period: Indus Valley Culture - Most probably the
Ravi Phase 3300-2800 BC

Origin: Harappa - Greater India (Now Pakistan)

The site, picture no.120
shows the same carnelian type of bead to the right.

Here is a photo from an excavation find from Bhirrana
where you can see the same disk beads.
(Archaeological Survey of India)


Below you can observe some of the more fine shaped beads in my Neolithic collection.



The drilling technique of Neolithic beads
The Neolithic beads were produced with the simplest tools! Here you can see the drills used for the pecking of the holes. The pecking was done from both sides of the bead.


Most beads from the Neolithic period are, as you can see on the picture below, not too long.
They are disk shaped.

argest disk bead to the top left: 38 * 7 mm
Click on picture for larger image

The similarity to early Indus Valley beads displayed below is striking. My guess is that many of the beads we find in the neolithic graves in Sahara, actually came from the more advanced Bronce Age civilizations, from Persia to the Indus Valley.




Indus Valley Culture, Ravi Phase 3300-2800 BC - 10 * 3 mm

When you look at the drills above it gives sense that the beads were mostly tabular. Drilling of long holes in long beads is very difficult and began with the Copper bronce age in West Asia and the Indus Valley. It became a goal in itself to make beads as long and as slender as possible.
 On the Indus-sites we find a lot of broken beads that tells us that this kind of bead making was a difficult task to make elongated beads.

NEO 6 - 12 * 11 mm

In these more rare bi-conical carnelian beads, the pecking hole is uneven,
often taking shape like a hour glass as you can see below:

argest bead to the top left: 31 * 10 mm
Click on picture for larger image

Here is a typical Neolithic hand grinding stone:



At that time all beads were hand grinded on these stones.










Contact: Gunnar Muhlman -