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Artifacts of Shell

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Artifacts of Shell

The section of an arm band, found in two pieces (68, 81), was
examined by Mr. William J. Clench, of the Museum of Comparative
Zoology, at Harvard University, who stated that it was not a fresh
water shell, not a clam shell, and that it was probably a transverse or
spiral section from a large gastropod. The band has been too thoroughly
worked down to make positive identification possible. In grinding
down and polishing the specimen, the workman has preserved the
original curve of the shell. Together the fragments measure only 2″
in length, ⅛″ in width, and ¼″ in height.

The other object of shell (or possibly calcite) is a very tiny bead
(64) drilled at one end with dimensions 5/16″ by 3/16″ by 2/16″.
This type of bead has aroused the interest of several excavators in
the Southwest because of its unusual and distinctive form. It has
been variously described as bi-lobed, two-lobed, double-drop, and
figure eight. The bead has two flat, parallel surfaces, ground smooth.
The flat surfaces are ovoid in shape with slight concavities on each of
the long sides giving a bi-lobed or figure eight effect. The hole for suspension
is very cleanly and sharply drilled in one of the lobes.

I have been able to discover eight published references to beads of
this description, found in sites located in Anasazi, Hohokam, and
Mogollon culture areas. At Snaketown,[379] where shell work was very
prolific, 14 beads, which are almost exact duplicates of the example
from Bc 51, were found, 7 in Sacaton levels, 2 more in Santa Cruz, and
5 unplaced.

There have been several reports of this type of bead from the
Mogollon. Haury[380] lists bi-lobed shell beads as characteristic of the


Page [141
Three Circle phase on the basis of one bead, 7 mm. long, one lobe perforated,
recovered from the Harris site. Nesbit[381] found several in
the Starkweather Ruin and refers to them as a late Pueblo development.
He also reports the flat type "figure 8" bead in "The Ancient

At Kiatuthlanna, in Eastern Arizona, Roberts[383] found a whole
necklace of these beads. Although they were in a bowl of Pueblo III
period and probably characteristic of Pueblo III, he suggests that they
might possibly have come from an older level and have been gathered
and saved by the Pueblo people. In northeastern Arizona, we have a
report from Kidder and Guernsey.[384] "The three two-lobed beads of
white stone are of an unusual shape; strung together they give the
effect of a double string." These beads are certainly the same shape
and, perhaps, the same material as the other examples. There are,
also, some beads of this type at the museum of Phillips Academy,
Andover, collected by W. K. Moorehead at Pueblo Bonito. Winifred
Reiter, in her unpublished master's thesis, describes these beads and
cites their finding in Chaco Canyon.:[385] Beads of this sort were found
on the lower floor of Casa Rinconada, in the inter-floor fills of the
Chetro Ketl "great kiva," in intentional fill in the northwest corner
outside Chetro Ketl Kiva G, in a weathered bank of a cut in the
Chetro Ketl refuse heap.[386]

From the scattered examples of these beads cited above they seem
to have a very wide distribution in both time and area, from Basket
Maker through to late Pueblo and in Anasazi, Hohokam, and Mogollon


Gladwin, et al., 1937, p. 140, Fig. 54 e.


Haury, 1936, p. 78 and Fig. 30.


Nesbit, 1938, p. 110 and Pl. 50a.


Nesbit, 1931, p. 95, Pl. 41 g.


Roberts, 1931, p. 162.


Kidder and Guernsey, 1919, p. 151, Pl. 62 l and Fig. 68 c.


Reiter, W., 1933.


Letter from Paul Reiter, February, 1939.