You probably wouldn’t expect something as small as the bead pictured above to be so interesting from an archaeological standpoint. The bead is a Spanish trade bead, roughly 300 years old, and it comes from a Chumash site in Rancho Sierra Vista, California:
Two tiny glass beads came as a bit of a surprise.
The National Park Service staff and volunteers excavating a small site in Rancho Sierra Vista this week expected some finds — an earth oven, cooking tools, maybe some beads to help date the site to when Chumash lived in the area.
Beads were important to the Chumash, but most were made from shell, not glass. The glass showed up when the Spanish first came to the area.
“At this point, we’re fairly confident that the site will date to the late 1700s during the initial period of Spanish colonial occupation in the area,” said Gary Brown, cultural resource program manager for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. He was three days into the weeklong dig near Newbury Park.
Finds from the period of initial contact between the Spanish and indigenous people are quite rare.