We report the preliminary results of chemical analysis by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry of 156 glass beads from sites in southern Africa. Almost all of these beads can be grouped in two chemical types based on oxide compositions and glass recipes. Glasses of these types were manufactured in south and/or southeast Asia. These are the first results of a project that will analyse about 1000 beads from African archaeological sites.
Chemical analysis of 31 glass beads from the sites of Mahilaka and Sandrakatsy in Madagascar, which date to approximately the 9th to 15th centuries CE, reveals the presence of two main types of glass: mineral- soda glasses and plant-ash glasses. Most of these glasses were probably made in South Asia.