TOWARD A SYSTEMATIC BEAD DESCRIPTION SYSTEM: A VIEW FROM THE LOWER FALEMME, SENEGAL

Journal of African Archaeology
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  • 1 Department of Anthropology Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs Syracuse University
  • 2 Department of Anthropology Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs Syracuse University
  • 3 Laboratoire d’'Archéologie IFAN-Cheikh Anta Diop

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This study examines a glass bead assemblage from surveyed and excavated portions of the Falemme (Senegal) to present a classification system for the analysis of archaeological beads in Africa and beyond. Although bead classification poses special problems, it is argued that such analysis is worthwhile, as beads may shed light on the dynamics of production, exchange and consumption in the past, on processes of culture change and continuity, and, most particularly, on chronological assessment. Focusing on the latter, the typological analysis helped us extract diagnostic information from the 474 mainly European-made beads, which complements and nicely supports the temporal sequence derived from imported trade materials and local ceramics.

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