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Glass Beads in Alaska Dated to Fifteenth Century A.D.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Alaska Venetian BeadsFAIRBANKS, ALASKA—According to a Gizmodo report, ten blue glass beads crafted in Venice, Italy, in the mid-to-late fifteenth century have been found at three different pre-Columbian sites in northern Alaska. Michael Kunz of the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Robin Mills of the Bureau of Land Management suggest that the beads were traded overland along the Silk Road, through Siberia, and across the Bering Strait into Alaska. Punyik Point, one of the sites where the beads were recovered, is situated along an ancient trade route and was used as a seasonal camp by Inuit peoples. The beads were found with metal artifacts, including a copper bracelet and bangle, and twine that was mass-spectrometry carbon dated to the 1400s. Charcoal and caribou bones found at the three sites were also dated to the fifteenth century. In all, the artifacts are thought to have traveled about 10,500 miles, including crossing more than 50 miles of open ocean. For more on Alaskan archaeology, go to "Cultural Revival."

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