Artifact of the Week: Trade Beads

CASA beads

These beads were found as part of a 2002 project in Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. The larger red cylindrical beads are called Cornaline D’Aleppo. Although glass beads of this type were made in Venice, Italy, they get their name from the city of Aleppo, Syria and the deep red stone carnelian. The beads became very popular as Europeans traveled to the New World, and they became important trade beads in North America. The beads were manufactured between 1575 and 1800.

The some of the white beads pictured also represent trade beads dating to the Contact Era (1565-1800). The beads were found in a feature along with ceramic fragments of pearlware and creamware, which likely date no later than 1830. The differences in date between the beads and the ceramics could indicate that the beads were heirloom objects at the time they were deposited.