The Significance of the Earliest Beads

Author(s): Robert G. Bednarik


Figure 1. Perforated and worn Porosphaera globularis fossils, used as beads in the Acheulian period.
Figure 1. Perforated and worn Porosphaera globularis fossils, used as beads in the Acheulian period.

This paper attempts to explore beyond the predictable and banal archaeological explanations relating to early beads and pendants. It recounts replication experiments to establish aspects of technology so as to better understand what can be learnt from the quantifiable properties of these artifacts. The article also scrutinizes the available empirical record in the light of taphonomic logic to translate the known spatial and temporal distributions of such remains into epistemologically meaningful pronouncements about the significance of the primary evidence. It is shown that numerous reasonable deductions become possible by engaging such avenues of inquiry. For instance some beads, in which production has been pushed to the limits allowed by the medium, seem to express a sense of perfection, and it is contended that beads are among the most informative forms of exograms that could possibly have survived from these very early times. A key requisite for the use and appreciation of all beads and pendants is a level of hominin self-awareness that essentially expresses full cognitive modernity.


Journal: Advances in Anthropology
DOI: 10.4236/aa.2015.52006 (PDF)
Paper Id: 54515 (metadata)

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