Stable Isotope Sourcing of Olivella Shell Beads from Central California

Author(s): Jelmer Eerkens; Gregory Burns

Year: 2015


Although a temporally diagnostic type artifact, the pre-contact cultural role of Olivella beads is poorly understood for Central California and the San Francisco Bay Area. While important as an item of trade and burial wealth, the nature of Olivella bead origin and conveyance is uncertain. Stable isotope sourcing, using oxygen and carbon from serial sampling shell carbonate, provides a potential to locate where shell was collected for bead production. We document developments in a technique for interpreting seasonal marine isotope signatures along the California coast, and compare sourcing results for beads from possible manufacture, domestic, and funerary assemblages from several Middle and Late Period sites.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Stable Isotope Sourcing of Olivella Shell Beads from Central California. Gregory Burns, Jelmer Eerkens. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398101)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;