The Elemental Analysis of Glass Beads

Technology, Chronology and Exchange

Edited by Laure Dussubieux and Heather Walder

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Ancient glass beads as a window to the ancient world

Glass beads, both beautiful and portable, have been produced and traded globally for thousands of years. Modern archaeologists study these artifacts through sophisticated methods that analyze the glass composition, a process which can be utilized to trace bead usage through time and across regions. This book publishes open-access compositional data obtained from laser ablation – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry, from a single analytical laboratory, providing a uniquely comparative data set. The geographic range includes studies of beads produced in Europe and traded widely across North America and beads from South and Southeast Asia traded around the Indian Ocean and beyond. The contributors provide new insight on the timing of interregional interactions, technologies of bead production and patterns of trade and exchange, using glass beads as a window to the past.

This volume will be a key reference for glass researchers, archaeologists, and any scholars interested in material culture and exchange; it provides a wide range of case studies in the investigation and interpretation of glass bead composition, production and exchange since ancient times.

Contributors: Bernard Gratuze (Institut de Recherche sur les ArchéoMATériaux, Centre Ernest-Babelon, UMR 5060 CNRS/Université d'Orléans), Alicia L. Hawkins (University of Toronto Mississauga), Elliot H. Blair (University of Alabama), Jessica Dalton-Carriger (Roane State Community College), Lee M. Panich (Santa Clara University), Thomas R. Fenn (The University of Oklahoma), Alison K. Carter (University of Oregon), Jennifer Craig (McGill University), Mark Aldenderfer (University of California, Merced), Mudit Trivedi (Stanford University), Lindsey Trombetta (The University of Texas at Austin), Jonathan R. Walz (The Field Museum / SIT-Graduate Institute), Akshay Sarathi (Florida Atlantic University), Carla Klehm (University of Arkansas), Marilee Wood (University of the Witwatersrand), Katherine A. Larson (Corning Museum of Glass), Heather Walder (The Field Museum / University of Wisconsin – La Crosse), Laure Dussubieux (The Field Museum)

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List of Illustrations
List of Tables

Chapter 1
Contextualizing this volume in the field of glass bead studies
Laure Dussubieux and Heather Walder

Chapter 2
Glass beads and human pasts
Alison Carter, Elliot H. Blair, Carla Klehm and Lee M. Panich

Part I: European Trade Beads

Chapter 3
Characterizing glass recipes for distinctive polychrome glass bead types in Ontario, Canada
Alicia Hawkins and Heather Walder

Chapter 4
Simple blue (IIa40) beads from 17th century Mission Santa Catalina de Guale: Dating, origins, and elemental composition
Elliot H. Blair and Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 5
Glass trade bead analysis at Upper Hampton Farm (40RH41): A case study for 17th and 18th century Non-Cherokee habitation in East Tennessee Valley
Jessica Dalton-Carriger and Elliot H. Blair

Chapter 6
Compositional analysis of compound drawn white glass beads from colonial California: Implications for chronology and dispersal
Lee M. Panich, Laure Dussubieux, Tsim D. Schneider, Christopher Canzonieri, Irenne Zwierlein, Christopher Zimmer and Michelle Zimmer

Chapter 7
Glass beads and evidence for early “pre-contact” trade in Northwestern Alaska 137
Thomas R. Fenn, Laure Dussubieux, Heather Walder and Douglas D. Anderson

Part II: Glass Beads in South and Southeast Asia

Chapter 8
The exchange of beads in Central Thailand in the protohistoric period: Glass objects from Phromthin Tai
Alison Carter, Laure Dussubieux, Thomas R. Fenn, Thanik Lertcharnrit and T.O. Pryce

Chapter 9
Shifting patterns of glass bead cargo of 15th – 17th century Philippines shipwrecks
Jennifer Craig and Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 10
Sources of glass beads from the High Himalayas: 1200 BCE-CE 650
Mark Aldenderfer and Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 11
Inland from the sea: Rethinking the value of mineral soda alumina drawn glass beads from medieval North India
Mudit Trivedi and Laure Dussubieux

Part III: Glass Beads in Africa and Western Indian Ocean

Chapter 12
Beads from the lowlands of Northwestern Ethiopia
Lindsey Trombetta, Laure Dussubieux, Agazi Negash, Daniel Dalmas, Metasebia Endalamaw, Mulugeta Feseha, Lawrence Todd and John Kappelman

Chapter 13
Inland glass beads in Northeast Tanzania, 8th-17th centuries CE
Jonathan R. Walz and Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 14
Glass beads at Unguja Ukuu in the late 1st millennium CE: Results of the 2018 excavation in Zanzibar
Akshay Sarathi, Jonathan R. Walz and Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 15
Chemical analysis of precolonial Indian Ocean glass beads found in the southern African interior: linking global objects to local and regional change
Carla Klehm and Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 16
Morphology and elemental composition: provenancing glass beads from 12th – 13th century Mayotte 323
Marilee Wood, Laure Dussubieux, Mudit Trivedi and Martial Pauly

Part IV: Glass Beads in the Middle-East 

Chapter 17
Elemental composition of glass beads from the eastern Mediterranean region: Chronology and provenance of material from Tel Anafa, Israel
Katherine A. Larson and Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 18
South Asian beads at the site of Kish, Iraq
Laure Dussubieux

Chapter 19
Technology, chronology, and exchange examined through glass beads
Heather Walder and Laure Dussubieux

Format: Edited volume - free ebook - ePUB

392 pages

full colour

ISBN: 9789461664662

Publication: October 17, 2022

Series: Studies in Archaeological Sciences 8

Languages: English


Heather Walder is a research associate of The Field Museum and an assistant teaching professor at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. She co-directs Gete Anishinaabeg Izhichigewin, a community-based Indigenous archaeology project in Red Cliff, Wisconsin.
Laure Dussubieux is a senior research scientist and manages the Elemental Analysis Facility of The Field Museum in Chicago.