Open Context

Descriptive Variable Value(s)
Object Name Bead
Material Olivella
Bead Type H1b (semi-ground disk)
Type Description Olivella biplicata "H" Series beads were made strictly during the historic period in California, starting in the 1770s and likely continuing until the missions were secularized in the 1830s (Gibson 1976, 1992; King 1978, 1981). The tiny perforations were made with ferrous needles. Despite the prevalence of suitable source material along the entire California coast, a recent study suggests H Series Olivella beads may have been produced exclusively in the Santa Barbara region. Oxygen isotope fingerprinting of four H series beads from CA-YOL-69 in the Capay Valley northwest of Sacramento proved those shells came from the southern California coast (Eerkins et al. 2005). That suggests H Series beads may have been manufactured for and distributed by the Spanish as a tool for gaining converts among northern California tribes. Sourcing of the two Building 39 specimens might be considered to verify whether or not thaey originated from the southern missions. During their period of manufacture H Series beads evolved from carefully made smaller examples with relatively large perforations earlier in time to crudely chipped larger examples with smaller perforations later in time. The earliest examples have completely ground edges (Type H1a), giving way to partly chipped and partly ground examples (Type H1b) by the 1780s and crudely chipped examples (Types H2) by the 1800s. Based on King"s seriation as published by Gibson (1992:24), the beads from Building 39 were most likely manufactured between 1810 and 1822 if they did come from the Santa Barbara region.
Number 1
Diameter (mm) 6.4
Perforation (mm) 1.2
Begin Date 1822.0
End Date c.1830
Note Identification numbers assigned by Open Context editors for bead and button analysis records

Suggested Citation

Thad M. Van Bueren. "Item 18 from United States/California/Presidio of San Francisco/Building 39/Artifacts". (2010) In Presidio of San Francisco. . Released: 2010-01-28. Open Context. <> ARK (Archive):

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Presidio of San Francisco

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