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Wooden Abacus Beads

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Artifact Description

The excavation of the “Tortugas” shipwreck yielded an eclectic assortment of objects deemed to be the personal belongings of those aboard the vessel. A set of four intact and several fragmentary carved wooden beads are spherical in form with beveled or slanted angles (L. 1.9cm, Diam. 1.9cm, W. 1.8cm, hole Diam. 0.2-0.3cm; Fig. 46). In addition to the holes at each end of the bead, smaller holes are visible on the body. The shape of the bead is similar to abacus beads, and as such may have been intended for use in an abacus counter. This tool has been used for performing arithmetic processes since ancient times and today is still widely used by merchants in many parts of the world, particularly Africa and Asia.


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