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Beads 31 (2019)

Evidence of Early 17th-Century Glass Beadmaking in Rouen, France, by Karlis Karklins and Adelphine Bonneau

Material evidence of a local drawn-glass beadmaking industry was uncovered in the old section of Rouen, France, in 1869 during street construction. Composed of production tubes and wasters (most of which exhibit evidence of a speo heat rounding), the material is attributed to the early part of the 17th century. It is significant as many of the recorded varieties have correlatives at archaeological sites in eastern North America occupied during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. These include a 7-layer chevron, Nueva Cadiz varieties, and frit-core beads. It is, therefore, quite possible that some of the American specimens may have originated in northern France and not just Venice or Holland as is commonly believed.

Glass and Enamel Beadmaking in Normandy, Circa 1590-1635, by Brad Loewen

The archaeological study of glass bead proveniences raises theoretical questions regarding the idea of “beadmaking centers” as defined by typological, technological, and geochemical means. Also important for defining beadmaking centers are historical sources in various languages. In the 19th century, French scholars interested in glassmaking in Normandy noted beadmaking ca. 1590-1635. Their publications show a rural cottage industry in the county of Eu and the forest of Brotonne, and an urban guild of patenôtriers in Rouen. While the historical data mostly show the production and export of rosary beads, the Normandy “beadmaking center” coincides with a major outfitting region of the late 16th and 17th-century transatlantic fur trade. This geographic correlation allows us to hypothesize that some French beads found in North America may have originated in Rouen. Interestingly, an archaeological collection from 1869 contains a chevron bead production tube and  two frit-core (faïence) beads, similar to North American examples, in a Rouen production context.

Beaded Aprons of the Coastal Peoples of the Guianas, by Michael Oehrl

Although many beaded aprons from the coastal area of the Guianas are among the oldest preserved collected objects of the South American lowlands, there is still no general consensus as to who the manufacturers of these aprons were. The glass beads used differ from those typically employed at the end of the 19th century and can be dated between 1750 and 1850. In the literature and museums, these aprons are not frequently described in detail, and the author is not aware of any early object for which a collector has provided more detailed information. This article is intended to give an overview of the aprons collected in early times and now found in museum collections, examining their patterns and bead materials, and reconstructing their origins with the help of literary sources from the 16th to 20th centuries.

Glass and Lapidary Beads at Jamestown, Virginia: An Updated Assessment, by Emma Derry

An updated assessment of the trade beads in the Jamestown collection has long been overdue since Heather Lapham’s 1998 study. The size and variation of the collection has expanded to include nearly 4,000 glass beads representing over 100 Kidd and Kidd varieties, as well as nearly 100 lapidary beads made of amber, coral, jet, amethyst, carnelian, chalcedony, agate, and quartz. The Jamestown assemblage strongly resembles those found at 16th-century Spanish colonial sites, due to the presence of navy blue Nueva Cadiz beads manufactured in Venice and faceted quartz-crystal beads likely produced in Spain. Other beads in the collection, however, may have been imported from Venice, the Netherlands, or elsewhere. Investigation of their origins has significance for understanding the position of the Jamestown settlement within the development of early 17th-century international and local trade. The compilation of counts and typology establishes a necessary baseline upon which to build.

Roman to Islamic Beads and Pendants from Matmar and Mostagedda, Middle Egypt, by Joanna Then-Obłuska and Alexandra D. Pleşa

Between 1927 and 1931, British archaeologists Guy Brunton and his wife Winifred recorded over 150 graves assumed to date from Late Dynastic to early Islamic times in the cemeteries of Matmar and Mostagedda, Middle Egypt. Sixty-four bead objects found in funerary context are now located in six museum collections. Recent studies of material found in these tombs and the radiocarbon dating of textile samples allowed for a revision of Brunton’s initial chronology and an overview of the typology of the bead corpus based on the revised chronological framework. The analysis of the Matmar and Mostagedda corpus also opens the avenue for a study of the timeline, typology, use, and provenience of beads at sites in the Middle Egyptian Nile Valley during the Roman to early Islamic period.

Even More on Frit-Core Beads, by Karlis Karklins

This article corrects the dating of a frit-core bead from Quebec reported in 2018, and reports three new find sites, two in North America and one in Europe. One of the American sites was occupied well past the 1560-1610 date range proposed for these beads, while the other is situated well to the south of all the others. The third site is in Rouen, France, where two different types were found with wasters from the production of drawn glass beads.

Glass Beads from Iron Age and Early Medieval Scotland, by Heather Christie

The dialog surrounding glass beads found in Scottish contexts is limited, particularly those found in Iron Age and Early Medieval contexts. These discussions focus largely on a narrative of diffusion from neighboring groups. This paper, however, examines the beads from a local perspective and finds that they differ significantly from those found in contemporary neighboring contexts. In fact, designs such as the triskele, marbled, and whirl beads do not appear elsewhere in the world and demonstrate significant skill and artistry on the part of local populations within Scotland. Colors also differ from neighboring groups, with deep blues and bright yellows favored over opaque reds and whites. These differences and the skill evident in the creation of these beads provide significant reason to examine the Scottish material in further detail.

A Glass Bead Sequence for South America Based on Collections from Brazil and Guyana, by William T. Billeck and Meredith P. Luze

Glass trade bead assemblages recovered during archaeological investigations at nine sites by Smithsonian archaeologists Betty Meggers and Clifford Evans in Brazil in 1948 and 1949 and Guyana in 1952 and 1953 date to multiple time periods, including the early 17th, mid-18th, mid-19th, and mid-20th centuries. The assemblages are used to show that the glass bead chronologies developed in North America are directly applicable to South America and that there is a global glass bead sequence related to European colonialism. White drawn glass beads were independently dated by comparison with known composition changes through time in how the glass was made opaque. Compositions were determined using pXRF.

Book Reviews in Volume 31

The Glory of Beads: The Rise and Fall of the Società Veneziana per l’Industria delle Conterie, by Nicole Anderson, reviewed by Rosanna Falabella. • La cartelle veneziane del Museo di Storia Naturale di Milano, by Giorgio Teruzzi, Chiara Colombo, and Irene Mineo, reviewed by Stefany Tomalin.

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