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Original Message:   Re: Mistaken "Bead History."
This article has been discussed recently, beginning the day it was released a few months ago.

Unfortunately, it is an example of what can happen when someone who does not really understand glass beads and glass-beadmaking decides to compose an exposition that turns out to be impossibly mistaken (even when they have consulted with someone who advises them accurately—in this instance, me).

I am reminded of the time that a chap presented a paper at an archaeological conference, proposing that a chevron bead found in the Western USA MIGHT have come to North America, via direct trade relations with China. In other words, not Venice to Eastern North America, and then across the country to the West. But, at that time, there was no reasonable way for most people to distinguish between early and late chevron beads—and this was a late bead. And was one that would not have been involved in "Early Contact exchanges," anyway.

I am prepared to believe that some Chinese glass beads MAY HAVE BEEN exchanged from Asia to North America, through the chain of islands that cross the Pacific, to the Aleutians and onto the continent. Aleuts do seem to have a few Chinese beads that might be Ming or Qing Dynasty products. But, for all we know, they got up there via San Francisco, traveling north.

It a good thing that people want to pursue bead distribution issues. And, there are certainly instances of situations that may be difficult to explain. But there is usually an actual answer. And in the case of the paper we are discussing here, the answer is that the beads are not as old as the writers want to believe.

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