Ancient Origins of Ethnographic Shell Bead Money in Central California

Author(s): Gregory Burns; Jelmer Eerkens

Year: 2017


Far from providing a bounty that obviated agriculture, the California acorn economy presented risks of secular variation more extreme than experienced by other densely populated hunter gatherers. Decentralized political organization and high ethno-linguistic diversity further complicated redistribution of spatio-temporally variant resources. In the ethnographic period, shell bead money played a key role in enabling exchange. We examine changing patterns in bead manufacture and distribution through time to identify when and how beads took on this role, and suggest how the development of money may be tied to broader social and demographic developments in ancient California.

Cite this Record

Ancient Origins of Ethnographic Shell Bead Money in Central California. Gregory Burns, Jelmer Eerkens. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431705)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16569