Developing approaches for understanding Indigenous Australian glass bead use during the contact period

Mirani Litster, Daryl Wesley, Gretchen M. Stolte

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Research into Indigenous bead use in Australia has emphasised the use of organic materials, such as seeds, reeds, bone and shell, in contrast to recently introduced beads made from glass. Indigenous collections housed at both Australian and international institutions, however, contain material culture that incorporates glass beads, such as chokers, necklaces and biting bags, in addition to both archaeological finds and ethnographic photos that illustrate the use of such items during the contact period. These beads and beaded objects bring to light questions concerning the use and production of beaded material culture. In this chapter, we propose an approach for the future study of these materials, incorporating methods from archaeology and anthropology, to explore the Indigenous use of glass beads and the production of beaded objects during the contact period.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Archaeology of Portable Art
Subtitle of host publicationSoutheast Asian, Pacific, and Australian Perspectives
EditorsMichelle Langley, Mirani Litster, Duncan Wright, Sally K. May
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic) 9781315299112
ISBN (Print)9781138237766
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • glass bead
  • portable art
  • Australia
  • Indigenous Australian
  • contact period


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