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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Beads and Ornaments from San Diego: Evidence for Exchange Networks in Southern California and the American Southwest


The study of shell artifacts provides important information concerning economic and political ties between Native American groups over time. California Indian groups participated in wide-ranging exchange networks for thousands of years that involved the trading of shell beads and ornaments. Shell beads and ornaments from the San Diego region provide chronological information concerning numerous sites; more importantly, they also contribute to our knowledge of economic and political networks that included the greater Southwest and the Paci c Coast. Our examination of over 23 assemblages from San Diego County documents the frequent use of beads made in both the Santa Barbara Channel region and in the Southwest, as well as the use of locally-produced shell beads.

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