Jul 31, 2009
More than 70,000 beads have been excavated on St. Catherines Island, Georgia, site of the northernmost outpost of the Spanish empire in the U.S. Consisting of French and Chinese blue glass, Dutch layered glass, and Baltic amber, the beads are enlightening archaeologists about past trade routes and comprise the largest repository ever discovered in Spanish Florida. Most of the beads were found in the cemetery under the church and were intentionally deposited with individuals as grave goods, indicating that it was a relatively wealthy outpost.
“This is the northernmost outpost of the Spanish empire, but we see evidence of ancient trade routes from China via Manila’s galleons to Mexico and Spain,” says Lorann Pendleton, Director of the Archaeology Laboratory at the Museum. “We also have found perhaps the first evidence of Spanish beadmaking, along with beads from the main centers of Italy, France, and the Netherlands.”