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A Wealth of Beads: Evidence for Material Wealth-Based Inequality in the Salish Sea Region, 4000–3500 Cal B.P.

  • Gary Coupland (a1), David Bilton (a1), Terence Clark (a2), Jerome S. Cybulski (a2), Gay Frederick (a3), Alyson Holland (a4), Bryn Letham (a5) and Gretchen Williams (a2)...

Abstract

Archaeologists working in the Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound) region of the Pacific Northwest have unearthed human burials and non-mortuary features dated to 4000–3500 cal B.P. containing tens and even hundreds of thousands of stone and shell disc beads. Several sites are reported here, including burials recently excavated from site DjRw–14 located in the territory of the shíshálh Nation. We argue that the disc beads constituted an important form of material wealth at this time, based on the amount of labor that would have been required to produce them and the capacity for beads to accrue in value after their production. A model of material wealth-based inequality is developed for a period much older than many archaeologists working in the region have previously thought.

Des archéologues travaillant dans la région de la mer des Salish (Le détroit de Géorgie et de Puget Sound) de la côte nord-ouest du Pacifique ont déterré des sépultures humaines ainsi que des éléments non-mortuaires datant de 4000–3500 cal B.P. comprenant dix et même des centaines de mille perles enforme de disque fabriquées de pierre et de coquillage. Dans cet article, plusieurs sites sont discutés incluant des sépultures excavées récemment du site DjRw-14 situé dans le territoire de la Nation shíshálh. Nous proposons que les perles constituaient un format important pour démontrer la richesse matérielle à cette époque étant donné la quantité de travail requis pour leur production et la capacité des perles d’augmenter de valeur après leur production. Un modèle d’inégalité basé sur la richesse matérielle est développé pour une époque beaucoup plus ancienne que le croyaient les archéologues auparavant.

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