Beads and similar ornaments appear early in the archaeological record associated with modern humans (Homo sapiens), first in Africa and somewhat later in Eurasia. They are thought to be among the first indicators of human use of symbols. This paper discusses criteria used to distinguish early mollusk-shell beads from other kinds of shells in archaeological deposits, focusing on evidence from the site of Üçaǧizli Cave in Turkey. Upper Paleolithic beadmakers at this and other sites clearly preferred certain forms of shell for ornamental purposes, although the reasons for that selectivity remain obscure.
The Society of Bead Researchers is a non-profit scientific-educational corporation founded in 1981 to foster historical, archaeological, and material cultural research on beads and beadwork of all materials and periods, and to expedite the dissemination of the resultant knowledge. Membership is open to all persons involved in the study of beads, as well as those interested in keeping abreast of current trends in bead research.
Stiner, Mary C. and Kuhn, Steven L.
"Early Upper Paleolithic Ornaments from Üçaǧizli Cave, Turkey."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
15: 65-74. Available at: