Article Title

The Beads from an 18th-Century Acadian Site, Prince Edward Island, Canada




Excavation of the Pointe aux Vieux site, an 18th-century Acadian house located on western Prince Edward Island, Canada, yielded a significant assortment of beads. Among the glass and bone specimens are ten black beads decorated with undulating yellow lines around the middle. Commonly called “rattlesnake” beads by collectors, this stylistic form has been found at many sites in North America as well as elsewhere in the world. Unlike the other beads, however, the ones from Pointe aux Vieux are not glass but formed by melting an igneous rock called “proterobas” to form a totally opaque black glass. The only known source of beads made from this material is the Fichtelgebirge region of northeastern Bavaria. While black ball buttons made of proterobas have been encountered at various sites in the eastern United States and Western Europe, this is the first recorded instance of proterobas beads in North America. It is hoped that this article will lead to more such beads being identified in archaeological collections so that their distribution and temporal range may be determined.

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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.

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