The presence of glass beads in West African archaeological sites provides important evidence of long-distance trade between this part of the continent and the rest of the world between the 7th and 13th centuries.
The study : Compositional and provenance study of glass beads from archaeological sites in Mali and Senegal at the time of the first Sahelian states – used chemical analysis of 16 glass beads.
The analysis showed that the glass came from Egypt, the Levantine coast and the Middle East.
The beads were used as part of a long distance trade network with one bead linked to the Iberian peninsula and another to South Africa.
The goods traded were diverse in a complex commercial system.