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Welcome to African Archaeology!

The Journal of African Archaeology is an international peer-reviewed periodical appearing half-yearly since 2003. It publishes original papers addressing recent research and developments in African archaeology and related disciplines. The journal's main purpose is to provide scholars and students with a new pan-African forum for discussing relevant topics on the cultural dynamics of past African societies.

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Vol. 10 (2) 2012

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L. Wilson Marshall

Typological and Interpretive Analysis of a 19th-Century Bead Cache in Coastal Kenya

Journal of African Archaeology, Volume 10 (2), 2012, pages 189-205, DOI 10.3213/2191-5784-10224

Abstract

This article provides a typological and interpretive analysis of 3968 beads unearthed at Amwathoya, a late 19th-century Giriama homestead site in Kenya's central coastal hinterland. These beads are predominantly imported glass specimens, and most were recovered from a single cache. The typological analysis of Amwathoya's assemblage draws on both historical bead terms from 19th-century Eastern Africa and broader classificatory schemes developed by archaeologists in other world areas. Smaller glass bead assemblages from two nearby contemporaneous settlements are also examined for comparative purposes. The interpretive analysis of Amwathoya's beads focuses on such ornaments' potential role in the expression of cultural and gendered identities; the use of locally produced shell beads in divination and healing practices is also explored.

Résumé
Cet article expose l'analyse typologique et l'interprétation de 3968 perles mises au jour à Amwathoya, un site de ferme Giriama datant de la fin du 19ème siècle situé dans l'hinterland côtier central du Kenya. Ces perles sont surtout des spécimens de verre importés et la plupart a été récupérée dans une seule cache. L'analyse typologique de l'assemblage Amwathoya s'appuie à la fois sur la terminologie historique des perles du 19ème siècle Afrique de l'Est et sur les classifications plus générales développées par les archéologues dans d'autres régions du monde. Les petits assemblages de perles de verre de deux villages contemporains voisins sont également examinés à des fins comparatives. L'analyse interprétative de perles Amwathoya se concentre sur le rôle de ces ornements dans l'expression des identités culturelles et l'expression du genre la piste de l'utilisation de perles de coquillage produites localement dans les pratiques de divination
et de guérison est également explorée.


Keywords: beads, Giriama, historical archaeology, identity, Kenya, trade


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Manfred K.H. Eggert, Germany
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Robert Vernet, France
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