Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Stephen W. Silliman

Second Advisor

John M. Steinberg

Third Advisor

Diana D. Loren


When examining an archaeological collection, a researcher often has the benefit of basic information such as what time period the collection belonged to, where exactly it was excavated, and other kinds of important context. Within the Schumacher Collection, excavated in 1877 on California’s Santa Catalina Island and curated at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, there is a lacuna of this information. What this collection lacks in provenience, however, it makes up for in sheer quantity of artifacts, most notably an estimated 296,000 beads made of shell and glass. This research presents a combined quantitative and qualitative method in which a vast amount of data hastily collected in the late 19th century can be compared to a more recent well-provenienced collection to reconstruct missing contextual information. These methods include bead type distributions, correlations, weight proxies, and soil analysis. Attempting to rebuild provenience in this manner results in ambiguities, but allows future work to engage in more nuanced analysis. The analysis of all glass beads and a sample of shell beads from this collection also contributes to archaeological interpretations of glass bead and shell bead use in California, especially with respect to glass bead color, shell bead type and taxa, and the pairing of them in cultural usage. All combined, such information can further aid efforts to reunite early collections with descendent communities and to further archaeology’s ability to document persistence among the Tongva and neighboring Indigenous communities of coastal southern California.


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