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Trading around the Saguenay River (16th and 17th centuries): new insights from trade glass beads typology and chemical analysis

Author(s): Adelphine Bonneau ; Réginald Auger ; Bernard Gratuze ; Jean-François Moreau

Year: 2017

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Hundreds of pounds of glass beads were imported among other goods by European traders to exchange with First Nations communities and to acquire fur, during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Once traded, these beads were used as bracelets, necklaces, cloths ornament, etc. or bartered with other Native groups.

Nowadays, thousands of these beads are found on archaeological sites in Canada and can be a privileged tool to investigate trade networks in North America. As a starting point, the Saguenay River area (from Tadoussac to St John Lake) has been chosen. Beads from trading posts (Chicoutimi, Metabetchouan, Ashuapmushuan) and from Amerindian settlements (Ashuapmushuan River, Anse-à-La-Croix, Ste-Maguerite River) were classified according to available typology and analysed with microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, LA-ICP-MS and LIBS (Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy) to reconstruct trading networks from Europe to Quebec, and around the Saguenay River.

Preliminary results indicate a diverse provenance of imported glass beads (France, Germany, Italy) and obvious relationships between trading posts and local Native sites. How were the beads chosen by the Europeans? To meet Native people "fashion" tastes? Were there different qualities of glass? This study can only provide preliminary answers but emphasizes the diversity and complexity of trading in New France.

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Trading around the Saguenay River (16th and 17th centuries): new insights from trade glass beads typology and chemical analysis. Adelphine Bonneau, Réginald Auger, Bernard Gratuze, Jean-François Moreau. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429284)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13211

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America