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Glass Chevron Beads

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Artifact Description

The glass trade beads recovered from the "Tortugas" shipwreck include eight white, blue and red faceted and ground Chevron beads of both five and seven-layer glass in three different sizes (maximum L. 2.5cm, W. 1.2cm; Kidd IIIm and IIIm1: bead typology is as defined by Kidd and Kidd, 1970). These drawn beads of compound structure consist of multi-layered glass, which presents an appealing star pattern when viewed from each end. ‘Faceted’ Chevrons are common amongst the earliest New World assemblages, yet prevail into the 1620s and originate in Venice and Holland.

Chevron beads were common on Spanish colonial sites in the Americas between the early 16th century and the early 17th century, and were especially popular in Mexico and Peru. Examples reached the Franciscan mission site at Tipu in western Belize, which was occupied from the 1540s into the early 17th century. A dozen early Chevron beads have been recovered from the Governor Martin site in Tallahassee, Florida, a native Apalachee settlement (Anhaica) occupied in 1539-40 by Hernando De Soto and his army. Chevrons also circulated beyond the sphere of Spanish colonial influence, such as the 96 examples from 17th-century English Jamestown in Virginia.

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