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Although previously unrecognized, South India was once home to a major stone-beadmaking industry. At its zenith in the early centuries A.D., it exported beads eastward to other parts of Asia and westward to the Roman Empire. South Indian gems were of such importance to the Roman West that the region deserves the title of "Treasure Chest of the Ancient World." Research has identified the probable sources of nearly all the raw materials used, the lapidary centers, and the trade routes over which the finished beads would have traveled. Additionally, it has revealed that the principal participants in the industry were the Pandukal people, opening a new chapter on the widening understanding of this community.

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The Society of Bead Researchers is a non-profit scientific-educational corporation founded in 1981 to foster historical, archaeological, and material cultural research on beads and beadwork of all materials and periods, and to expedite the dissemination of the resultant knowledge. Membership is open to all persons involved in the study of beads, as well as those interested in keeping abreast of current trends in bead research.



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