Glass Trade Beads from an Elmina Shipwreck: More Than Pretty Trinkets

Lisa Eileen Hopwood

          Despite the increase in West African archaeology over the past several decades, little is known about West African underwater archaeology. This thesis contributes to the new field by analyzing nineteenth-century glass beads found on a shipwreck in Ghanaian waters. The bead assemblage consists mainly of monochrome seed beads. Several analytical approaches helped uncover data about these beads including a descriptive database, comparative and ethnohistorical research, and analysis of spatial patterns and anomalies in the wreck site. The ethnographic and archaeological analysis revealed that part of the bead cargo was likely destined for the historic West African bead industry as raw material for new beads.