Dating wire wound glass trade beads

Bead styles and types changed through the centuries, and archaeologists have long used particular styles, in concert with historical documents, to date Native American sites of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

While some beads were manufactured for a short time, the vast majority were made for decades.

The assemblage matches those typical of the 1670 to 1730 period defined by Dr. We recently learned of a new technique for dating individual beads using X-ray fluorescence, or XRF.

XRF reads the chemical composition of the glass, which changes over time.

Recent excavations produced a small, but diverse, assemblage of glass trade beads.

Certain types deemed the most valuable were reserved for use only by Kings and their Royal Courts."Trade Beads" manufactured in Europe readily fit into a barter currency system used for African goods and already actively traded commodities such as ivory, gold, copper, spices and palm oil.Sadly, slaves were also an actively existing trade, and certain beads were also accepted in this heinous practice as well.Graduate student Jessica Dalton Carriger of the University of Tennessee is utilizing this technique on 17th century sites in eastern Tennessee.The Lord Ashley assemblage has such a narrow date range – only 11 years – and the exact period of use is well documented.Lord Ashley’s frontier settlement was occupied only from 1674 until 1685.During that time the property was managed by Andrew Percival, and served as a cattle ranch and a station for trade with Native peoples drawn to the prospect of English goods.Building on the work of many scholars before him, Dr.Jon Marcoux of Auburn University-Montgomery has developed a chronology of glass beads for the English period in the southeast (c 1607 – 1783).View All Exhibits In the Historic Textiles Gallery, the Museum features regularly rotating exhibits from its rich historic textiles and clothing collection, one of the finest in the southeastern United States.View All Exhibits In the Lowcountry History Hall, see materials relating to the Native Americans who first inhabited the Lowcountry and the African American and European settlers who transformed the region into an agricultural empire.

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