Beading was frequently used as a decorative and strengthening finish for the rims of silver bowls and dishes in the late Roman and early Byzantine periods. There are two main types of beading:
(i) the bead-and-reel band (PL. XXA).
(ii) the single-bead band (PL. XXB).
The first consists of a series of oval or sausage-shaped solid beads alternating with smaller double-ridged reels (PL. XXC), while the second is a row of beads, often hollow, nominally of the same size, placed closely together (PL. XXE). In addition, some hybrid beaded rims, intermediate between the two, are found (for example, the two flanged bowls from the Carthage Treasure have a single row of small hemispherical beads worked almost entirely from the front). Beading is usually positioned on or close to the rims or outer edges of the dishes or vessels. Beaded decoration was particularly popular during the late Roman period, and decorates vessels found in many different locations, both within the Empire and outside it, for example fragments of beading found in a hoard of hacksilber from Coleraine, in Northern Ireland (PL. XXD), and a flanged silver bowl from the River Don in southern Russia, as well as vessels from Mildenhall, in England, Chaourse, in France, Carthage, Syria and Constantinople. The use of bead-and-reel decoration seems to be the earlier of the two techniques and was used on many of the vessels in the Chaourse Treasure in the third century A.D., while material from later hoards of the fourth to the sixth centuries, such as the Mildenhall treasure, show that the large single-beaded band had then become extremely popular. To discover the techniques employed to produce this simple beaded decoration examples of both types were examined using optical and scanning electron microscopy and X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. Models were made in copper to test the resulting theories on how the different methods of beading were carried out.