In the last weeks of Florida Archaeology Month, let’s talk beads. Beads are an important part of Native American cultures. The size, shape, color, and material of beads denotes status in many native cultures. Early beads found in Florida and the greater Eastern coastal region were made from clay, bone and shell. Clay and bone beadswere the easiest to make and became the most abundant. However, beads from the quahog clam, wampum, was also popular on the Eastern coast. The mostly white shell of the quahog has shades of light to deep purple around its edges; the amount of purple varies from shell to shell, making the color rarer and worth twice the amount of white wampum. Purple wampum designated their wearer as powerful, wealthy, and important in the community.
White Wampum, Interior of Quahog Shell, Purple Wampum