An XRF Compositional Analysis of Opaque White Glass Beads from 17th-Century Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, Georgia
Previous analyses of the elemental composition of white glass beads have shown that the opacifier used during glass manufacture is temporally diagnostic, with a transition from tin to antimony to arsenic to fluorine. To date, most researchers using this fact for chronological purposes have focused on British, Dutch, and French contact sites in the northeastern United States and Canada. Many of these studies have relied on expensive, and sometimes minimally destructive, techniques. X-ray fluorescence spectrometry is a widely available, non-destructive technique that can be used to identify glass opacifiers extremely rapidly and inexpensively. This technique was used to analyze 783 specimens of four varieties of drawn white glass beads from burial contexts at Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, Georgia, demonstrating that the “opacifer-dating” method is also applicable to Spanish colonial sites in the southeastern United States.
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.
Blair, Elliot H.
"An XRF Compositional Analysis of Opaque White Glass Beads from 17th-Century Mission Santa Catalina de Guale, Georgia."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
29: 31-48. Available at:
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