Huge cache of 17th century beads found in Georgia

A recently discovered large collection of glass beads dating to the 17th century proves that global trade had reached the shores of North America. The 70,000 beads, which included Venetian, Dutch, French and Chinese glass beads, were found at an excavation at the Santa Catalina de Guale Mission. (photo)

The discovery of the beads proves that Spanish trade took place as far north as the state of Georgia. "This is the northernmost outpost of the Spanish empire, but we see evidence of ancient trade routes from China via Manila's galleons to Mexico and Spain," says Lorann Pendleton, Director of the Archaeology Laboratory at the American Museum of Natural History. "We also have found perhaps the first evidence of Spanish beadmaking, along with beads from the main centers of Italy, France, and the Netherlands."