Whole dentalium and segments of dentalium shell have been used as beads in the Northwest Coast and interior Plateau culture areas both prehistorically and ethnographically. Incised whole shells, and no more than five known examples of incised segments, have been recovered from the Plateau, limited to archaeological contexts. A review of the reported incising clearly shows the use of design elements typical of the Plateau Culture Area as often also used on bone, antler, wood, and historic copper in addition to dentalium. The Asotin site (45-AS-9), one of the few well-dated Plateau burial sites with incised beads indicates that this phenomena has a broad and, as yet, poorly defined chronological occurrence, largely from the protohistoric to the early historic.
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.
"Incised Dentalium Shell Beads in the Plateau Culture Area."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
16: 51-68. Available at: