The earliest bead manufacture in the Americas at the Paleo-Indian Jones-Miller site, Wray, Colorado

Pamela Vandiver, Amy Vandiver Gruhl

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Analysis of the composition and microstructure of a Paleo-Indian micro-bead fragment from the Jones-Miller bison-kill site in Wray, Colorado, USE, and dated by radiocarbon testing to 10,200 years ago, showed that fine-motor movements were used to execute a sequence of manufacture on a singular bead. The process involved cleaving a soft, bedded oil shale, diagonally scraping a tubular surface and double-drilling a hole. The last operation caused the bead to fracture, after which it was deposited in a hearth. The raw material consists of bedded clay, silt, opal and quartz particles cemented with carbonaceous material. The presence of similar locally available oil shale with opal inclusions indicates that the raw material was acquired near the Jones-Miller site. Because of high cultural value and small size, only non-destructive analytical techniques were used to characterize the bead, including optical microscopy, UV-VIS, PIXE and XRD. Some 50-micron, previously detached particles were tested by SEM-EDS and compared to local clayey materials, both heat-treated and non-heat-treated, to show that no heat treatment sufficient to cause sintering had occurred. A resource survey in the area around the site and 50 miles to the south produced several comparative materials that were tested by the same methods given above as well as the added methods of DTA and refiring tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMaterials Issues in Art and Archaeology IX
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2011
Event2010 MRS Fall Meeting - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 29 2010Dec 3 2010

Publication series

NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0272-9172


Other2010 MRS Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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