Rethinking Temporal Significance
Thus, for example, if the Early Period tradition of manufacturing rectangular beads came to an end 2,500 years ago, but identical rectangular beads were again manufactured between 1,000 and 500 years ago, the beads of the two traditions should be identified as different types, even different classes. Under this system, single beads cannot always be “typed” by form alone. Analysts have a problem, then, when trying to classify beads from ambiguous temporal contexts:
Olivella bead analysts commonly avoid the problem of overlapping types by lumping marginal forms (outliers) with the dominant type, without documenting the exceptional nature of the outliers. This is acceptable when overlapping forms are historically quite distinct, e.g. L and M. However, we now regard this practice as insufficient for identifying types and sub-types within the Class F Saddles series, characterized by subtly different forms that serve to distinguish short-term temporal changes in the upper part of the Middle Period.