Another Kind of Beads: A Forgotten Industry of the North American Colonial Period

Duane Esarey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Recently completed research identifies 39 marine shell ornament forms on 127 historic period sites in 18 states as a previously undefined colonial industry. Beginning circa 1635 and known almost entirely from archaeological specimens, Standardized Marine Shell ornaments are distinct from both wampum and Native-modified marine shell ornaments. After ca. 1710 the robust and varied SMS industry gives way to smaller and simpler shell ornament industries continuing into the 19th century. My inventory (n = 4845) identifies the primary recipients of standardized shell ornaments as the central figures of the 17th century northeastern fur trade network. My statistical representation of SMS chronological affiliations (termed “span factored annual percentages”) graph the discrete history of each form, cumulatively illustrating SMS as a persistent commodity. The image that emerges is of a small-scale production and distribution strategy initiated by early settlers in the nascent New Netherland colony.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMAC, Midwest Archaeological Conference
StatePublished - 2013


  • ISAS


Dive into the research topics of 'Another Kind of Beads: A Forgotten Industry of the North American Colonial Period'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this