ALEXANDRINE GLASS BEADS

February 20, 2018

Alexandria was the center for manufacturing glass during the Roman Era, especially the production of those mosaic beads now known as millefiori because of their distinctive decorative pattern. Accordingly, in each of my books characters wear or refer to them.

   

Binyamin, Miriam’s extravagant twin, wears them in THE DEADLIEST LIE:

   

Binyamin’s expletives were billowing out of the library like smoke from the lighthouse. When I peeked in from the courtyard, he was sitting at the now-scarred cherry wood table, the restrained northern light backlighting his face. He was wearing a green sleeveless, knee-length tunic of fine Indian cotton girded at the waist with a leather belt, which, like his sandals, was studded with multicolored Alexandrine glass beads.

   

In THE DEADLIEST HATE, Judah’s brother Eran, a man of considerable wealth in Caesarea, was dressed in a synthesis, a loose gown Romans wore at their own dinner parties, this one studded with multicolored Alexandrine glass beads. The gown almost masked the paunch on his otherwise solid frame, and he wore enough rings to smother the fingers of both hands.

   

Likewise in THE DEADLIEST HATE, Bion explained who his master had been before his manumission:

   

Ben Enoch became wealthy as a sandal-maker for patrician women like Poppaea Sabina and Agrippina the Younger. He crafts their soleae from the softest pigskin leather, trims them with gold embroidery, Alexandrine beads, garnets, pearls, even emeralds, and adds thickness to the soles so his clients can flaunt their height along with their wealth. Ben Enoch’s sandals are so prized they’re sent to Rome regardless of the season on military transports carrying urgently needed supplies.

    

If you happen to be in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or any other grand art museum, look at the Roman glass, especially the Alexandrine glass beads and the glassware embedded with the beads. I guarantee you’ll be dazzled.

 


 

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Venture with Miriam into the claustrophobic underbelly of Alexandria at night.