Last Saturday, I got to be part of a really fun test pit group with fellow classmates Dani, Steve, and David P. (aka The Holy Shakers). Our pit was up by the East Boundary datum point. We had a great time leveling out our 50 cm pit together, sifting the contents through a 1/4" screen, and logging our finds.
Our first level went from 0 - 20 cmbg; we found interesting pieces of glazed ceramic (two different types, both red and white paste), molded glass, a couple of nails and some non-human bone fragments. We all kept switching tasks around, so everybody got a chance to dig, level, transfer the soil, shake the screen, and investigate the screen contents for goodies. We gossipped about other classes, commiserated about midterms, and got to hear more about the history of the site from David.
It was during a stint of screening soil lifted from the 20 - 30 cm level that I found the bead. I am prone to a certain amount of excitability in the mornings; before I really understood what was happening, I was bouncing around like an idiot, yelling "I FOUND A BEAD! I FOUND A BEAD!" And then lots of other people became excited too. That was a pretty fun moment up there on the hill.
After my initial flipout, I calmed down and assumed it would just turn out to be a plastic Barbie bead or something. Upon further inspection, a few folks both wiser and steadier than I dissuaded me of such maudlin thoughts: I was informed that it was a Glass Bead. Woo hoo!
(That's when I remembered that I left my camera AT HOME, the first time I've done so all quarter. Of course. Luckily for me, David pulled out his trusty iPhone, took some photos, and promised not to post them himself; he emailed them to me so I could do the honors. Thanks, David!)
After bagging the find, something else occurred to me: even though I felt very enthusiastic, I realized that I didn't actually have a clue as to the significance of finding the bead. I'd just picked up through earlier, overheard conversations that finding a bead was a Very Good Thing. Also, I was informed that it was fortuitous to find such a small bead when we were using a 1/4" screen; it could have very easily gone right through the mesh. Still, what was the big deal?
I went around and asked a few people, who told me that the Ohlone used to trade beads with colonists. Okay, that's a start! But, why was it up on the hill? Was it from an orphan? (Unlikely). Did it belong to one of the Native Americans who grazed their cattle in that field? Or was it maybe washed down the hill from the burned-down home that David told us about? Those questions are harder to answer, of course. The main point I took away from my enquiry was that finding a bead was Proof Of Ohlone Indians In The Area. Which we kind of already knew, but still... pretty sweet!
Once I got home, something else occurred to me. We were all calling it a "glass bead". But did the Ohlone have glass-making capabilities? A google search told me that the Ohlone mostly made shell beads. This was before David had sent me the photos, though, so I got all fussed that maybe it wasn't a bead from the Ohlone after all. However, upon closer inspection of the photos...
... what do you think? Could those swirly lines spiralling along the outside the bead be shell markings? 'Cause that would be pretty cool!
Later that morning, I also had the opportunity to relocate a very sweet and incredibly cozy millipede, who was curled up tight about 30 cmbg for a nice cool nap in the moist clay soil. But people were decidedly NOT as excited about that, unless you call flapping their hands and walking very quickly in the opposite direction "excited". Which, I guess, you know, you kind of totally could.