New Research in Material Culture Studies: Archaeological Science Applied to Objects and Contexts

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

Glass trade beads are some of the most commonly found objects on early historical archaeological sites. More than being ornamental objects, they reveal exchange and communication between countries, cultures, and peoples. Numerous studies have been carried out on glass beads around the world, especially typologies and chronologies, as well as attempts to understand their symbolic significance in various cultures. More recently, physical and chemical analyses have brought new insight on these objects: origins, trade routes, manufacturing processes, etc. Both approaches are complementary. This session will present recent research from both the archaeological and archaeometrical fields.

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  • Documents (5)

  • Archaeometrical study of Glass Trade Beads from the ClFi-10 site: results and their potential to investigate Amerindian exchange networks (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adelphine Bonneau. Jean-François Moreau. Ron Hancock. Réginald Auger. Bertrand Emard.

    Hundreds of kilos of glass beads were imported by European traders and were a privileged exchange “money’ with Amerindians during the 17th and the 18th centuries. Once acquired, these beads were either used or bartered with other Amerindian people. Glass beads could therefore be of great help to trace for trade routes in North America. For this purpose, markers for each group of beads imported from Europe need to be found. The chemical composition of glass beads has been analyzed by instrumental...

  • Historical Glass and Tracer X-Ray Fluorescence: Compositional Analysis of Black Glass in Antigua, West Indies (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Charlotte Goudge.

    Bruker Tracer X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) hand-held laboratory systems have been extensively and effectively used in the past to study ancient glass. However, historical glass does not receive the same amount of attention in current academic enquiry. During the 2013 excavation season at Betty’’s Hope plantation in Antigua, West Indies, a Tracer XRF was used to analyse compositional variations in historic black glass found at the site. Samples were taken from both the Great House and the Still House...

  • Small Beads, Big Picture: Patterns of Interaction identified From Blue Glass Artifacts from the Upper Great Lakes Region (2014)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Heather Walder.

    As European explorers and displaced Native newcomers entered the Upper Great Lakes region, they introduced unfamiliar material types, such as glass beads, which both local and non-local people incorporated into trade networks and technological systems as they confronted the social and economic challenges of interacting with Europeans and their objects. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Native Americans used glass beads as personal adornments and as raw material modified to produce new objects....

  • Some thoughts on unraveling the chemical complexity of turquoise/green glass trade beads (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ron Hancock. Jean-François Moreau.

    INAA data from 421 green glass trade beads, from our bead database, were visually inspected to see if there was a logical process for sorting them. Most of the samples were from the 16th to 18th century archaeological sites in northeastern North America. The first steps were to eliminate samples that came from non-European sources or from later times. This was done by removing samples with very high aluminum or potassium, or with no measurable chlorine. Then, we removed tin-opacified samples....

  • ‘Vecino, Hispano, y Mexicano’: Exploring Civic Identity in Nineteenth-Century New Mexico (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jean-François Moreau. Karlis Karklins.

    Generations of American anthropologists have studied the process of Spanish colonization through the lens of ethnicity, considering how interactions between colonial and indigenous populations resulted in the mixing and reformulation of ethnic identities. This approach works well in the early colonial period, when colonial society was organized into a system of ‘castas’ that were determined, in large part, by one’s ethnic heritage. It is less appropriate during the late colonial and early...