Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

2014 Edition
| Editors: Claire Smith

Trade Beads in Historical Archaeology

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-0465-2_1421


During the last five centuries, European trade beads markedly influenced political economies at multiple scales. Columbus introduced glass trade beads to the New World, and the Portuguese introduced later European beads to much of sub-Saharan Africa, beginning with coastal regions in West Africa. Indo-Pacific, or Trade Wind, beads already dominated the market for trade beads in the Indian Ocean region (Wood 2011) and, in Asia, as far north as Japan (Francis 2002). Bead production in Amsterdam, in Venice, and at locations in Bohemia gained momentum in the seventeenth century. The Dutch, Spanish, English, and French widely distributed European glass trade beads and exchanged them for desired items, needed services, and slaves in the lands bordering the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The Spanish mission period in Florida (1633–1704) and the late seventeenth-century to eighteenth-century fur trade of northwestern North America are notable examples. Explorers, such as Richard...

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  1. Francis, P., Jr. 2002. Asia’s maritime bead trade. Honolulu (HA): University of Hawai’i Press.Google Scholar
  2. Karlkins, K.A. 1985. Glass beads. Ottawa: National Historic Parks and Sites Branch, Parks Canada.Google Scholar
  3. Kidd, K.E. & M.A. Kidd. 1970. A classification system for glass beads for the use of field archaeologists. Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History 1: 45-89. Ottawa: National Historic Sites Service.Google Scholar
  4. Spector, J.D. 1976. The interpretive potential of glass trade beads in historic archaeology. Historical Archaeology 10: 17-27.Google Scholar
  5. Wood, M. 2011. Interconnections: glass beads and trade in southern and eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean(Studies in Global Archaeology 17). Uppsala: Uppsala University.Google Scholar

Further Reading

  1. Blair, E. H., L.S.A. Pendleton & P. Francis, Jr. 2009. The beads of St. Catherines Island (Anthropological Papers 89). New York: American Museum of Natural History.Google Scholar
  2. Deagan, K.A. 1987. Artifacts of the Spanish colonies of Florida and the Caribbean, 1500-1800, Volume I: ceramics, glassware, and beads. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  3. DeCorse, C.R., F.G. Richard & I. Thiaw. 2003. Toward a systematic bead description system. Journal of African Archaeology 1: 77-109.Google Scholar
  4. Smith, M.T. & M.E. Good. 1982. Early sixteenth century glass beads in the Spanish colonial trade. Greenwood: Cottonlandia Museum Publications.Google Scholar
  5. Stine, L.F., M.A. Cabak & M.D. Groover. 1996. Blue beads as African-American cultural symbols. Historical Archaeology 30: 49-75.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology and Archaeology ProgramRollins CollegeWinter ParkUSA