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CALIFORNIA

May/June 2021

MJ21 ATW CaliforniaCALIFORNIA: New research suggests that the Chumash people of California’s south-central coast were using standardized shell beads as currency 2,000 years ago—some 800 years earlier than originally believed. This may constitute the earliest known example of the use of money in the Americas. It has been assumed that hunter-gatherer societies such as the Chumash had no need for money, but the new theory proposes that these groups were more sociopolitically and economically complex than once thought.

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