Developing approaches for understanding Indigenous Australian glass bead use during the contact period
Research into Indigenous bead use in Australia has emphasised the use of organic materials, such as seeds, reeds, bone and shell, in contrast to recently introduced beads made from glass. Indigenous collections housed at both Australian and international institutions, however, contain material culture that incorporates glass beads, such as chokers, necklaces and biting bags, in addition to both archaeological finds and ethnographic photos that illustrate the use of such items during the contact period. These beads and beaded objects bring to light questions concerning the use and production of beaded material culture. In this chapter, we propose an approach for the future study of these materials, incorporating methods from archaeology and anthropology, to explore the Indigenous use of glass beads and the production of beaded objects during the contact period.