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Whence and why glass beads?

In the first millennium B.C., the wider Dolenjska area was inhabited by the so-called Dolenjska group of the south-eastern Alpine Halstatt culture. Their economy was based on their ironwork industry, farming, glass melting and manufacturing colourful glass beads*. Several hundred archaeological sites – settlements and burial grounds – from the period have so far been discovered in Dolenjska. The glass beads were discovered in settlement layers, but mostly in graves, where they were found in large quantities, sometimes as many as several hundred in one grave. Several hundreds of thousands of glass beads from this period have been discovered in Dolenjska, whereas only hundreds have been discovered across the rest of Europe. The fact that they were manufactured in Dolenjska is proven not only by their large number, but also their diverse shapes, different sizes and colour combinations. It should also be pointed out that there are large deposits of quartz sand, the main material used to create glass, in Dolenjska. The glass beads from this period are mostly blue, though green, turquoise, yellow, white and transparent beads have also been found. They are ornamented with eyelets and protrusions of various colours. None of the glass beads manufactured in Dolenjska are red, as they were substituted by amber. Glass beads are unquestionably the most common artefacts from the early Iron Age, and one of the most prestigious products of Dolenjska craftsmen, who, along with the ironworkers and situla manufacturers, created top-quality craft, art and designer products in Dolenjska, with which they took a part in shaping the European cultural identity and made a substantial contribution to the treasure trove of European cultural legacy.

*Visit the Museum of Dolenjska for more information.

(Borut Križ, archaeologist)

The logo combines 5 beads of different colours, which represent the 5 main products. The blue one is for Health and relaxation, the yellow one for Active vacation, the violet one for Following the heritage, the green one for Cottage tourism, and the red one for Cuisine and wine.

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