PHOTOS: New Bead Cache Reflects Spanish Empire's Might

PHOTOS: New Bead Cache Reflects Spanish Empire's Might
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April 10, 2009--A cache of 70,000 beads from all over the 17th-century world have been unearthed from Saint Catherines Island, Georgia, a stop along a Spanish trade route between China and the Philippine capital of Manila.

The beads reflect a startling array of shapes, colors, sizes, and materials, hinting at the wide reach of the Spanish Empire in the 17th century, archaeologists report. So far, researchers with an ongoing project funded by the American Museum of Natural History have found roughly 130 different types of beads, some of which include as many as 20,000 samples.

"We also have found perhaps the first evidence of Spanish beadmaking, along with beads from the main centers of Italy, France, and the Netherlands," Lorann Pendleton, director of the museum's archaeology laboratory, said in a statement.

The beads above include a Chinese wound bead in green (top row, middle), a Spanish cross of manganese black glass with waves and dots (bottom right), a potentially French blown-glass bead with greenish-yellow dots (upper right), and a cut crystal specimen thought to be Spanish because of its inferior quality compared with the standard Venetian or French crystal beads of the period (top row, second from left).
—Photograph courtesy American Museum of Natural History
 
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