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Objects and Artifacts - Archeological Artifacts - Artifact Class - Shell

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Beads from the Shrope Site, 14CO331

Beads from the Shrope Site, 14CO331
Date: 1400-1725 CE
A salvage excavation was conducted at the Shrope site in Cowley County by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and crew in 1995. The shell bead shown here, and numerous artifacts, were recovered from deep within a bell-shaped pit. The mussel shell is delicate and great care must have been taken to create the oval hole and shape the bead. The bone bead was found at shallower depths in a different pit. Both ends of a bird bone have been scored, snapped and smoothed to create the bead. The Shrope site was a large Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) village. Forty-one archeological features, such as storage pits, hearths, and post molds, were uncovered at the site.


Bone and Shell Beads from 14SA423

Bone and Shell Beads from 14SA423
Date: 1000-1500 CE
These two beads were recovered from the surface of an archeological site on the bank of an old stream meander in Saline County. They were donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2017. The shell bead was likely crafted from a mussel shell. The bone bead was made of a bird bone.


Button Blank from the Last Chance Store, 14MO367

Button Blank from the Last Chance Store, 14MO367
Date: 1857-1945
This small wooden button blank would have been used to create shell buttons, most likely for use on infant's clothing. It was recovered during the excavations at the 2016 Kansas Archeology Training Program at the Last Chance Store in Council Grove. Shell buttons were most popular from the late 1800s until World War II, when plastic buttons began to dominate the market. The Last Chance Store was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.


Early Excavations at the Paint Creek Site, 14MP1

Early Excavations at the Paint Creek Site, 14MP1
Date: 1934
Shown are black and white prints of the excavation at the Paint Creek site and some of the artifacts recovered there. The excavation was undertaken by archeologist Marvin Kivett of the Nebraska State Historical Society and crew. Shown are a young man excavating a pit, a restored pot, and chipped stone tools, bone tools, and shell tools collected from the site in 1934. The Paint Creek site in McPherson County is part of the Little River focus of the Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita), whose people practiced fishing, hunting, gathering, and agriculture.


Hair Pipe from the Fanning Site, 14DP1

Hair Pipe from the Fanning Site, 14DP1
Date: 1500-1700 CE
This hair pipe was recovered from the Fanning site, an Early Contact period Kansa village in Doniphan County. Hair pipes were used to decorate hair, or as necklaces, earrings, and in breast plates. It was collected in the 1930s by the University of Nebraska and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1987.


Hair Pipe from the Infinity Site, 14MY305

Hair Pipe from the Infinity Site, 14MY305
Date: 1800-1900 CE
This hair pipe was collected from the Infinity site in Montgomery County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1962. The hair pipe was made from a marine shell, the conch found from Bermuda to Brazil and the Gulf of Mexico. Hair pipes were used to decorate hair, or as necklaces, earrings, and in breast plates. The Infinity site is a multicomponent (multiple occupations) site that was occupied periodically from the late Archaic period through the Historic period, with the Historic artifacts found on the surface.


Modified Mussel Shell

Modified Mussel Shell
Date: Unknown
This fragment of a mussel shell was found along Mill Creek in Wabaunsee County. It was donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1925. The hole was cut or drilled into the shell, but it isn't known whether desired result was the shell with a hole in it, or the cut-out portion, which could have been made into a bead or even a button.


Modified Mussel Shell from the Pottawatomi Mission, 14SH325

Modified Mussel Shell from the Pottawatomi Mission, 14SH325
Date: 1848-1861
This mussel shell half was recovered from the Pottawatomi Mission in Shawnee County during excavations by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and crew in 1975. The hole was cut or drilled into the shell, but it isn't known whether desired result was the shell with a hole in it, or the cut-out portion, which could have been made into a bead or more likely a button. The Mission was built in 1850 with the purpose of teaching Potawatomi children reading, writing, and trade skills. After closing in 1861 the building served multiple purposes. The building and the surrounding land was purchased by the State of Kansas in 1973 and it remains on the site of the Kansas Historical Society.


Modified Shell from the Curry Site, 14GR301

Modified Shell from the Curry Site, 14GR301
Date: 1200-1400 CE
This modified shell tool was recovered from the Curry site, a multicomponent (multiple occupations) village in Greenwood County. It was donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1984. The tool was made from local mussel shell and was used for piercing other materials.


Pendant and Bead from the Kohr Site, 14SA414

Pendant and Bead from the Kohr Site, 14SA414
Date: 780860 CE
This pendant fragment and bead, both made of shell, were collected in the 1930s from Kohr House No. 1 at a large village site in Saline County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1971. The Kohr site was occupied by Smoky Hill aspect people and had several rectangular houses. Radiocarbon dates on maize indicate it was occupied during the Early Ceramic period.


Sea Snail Shell from the Radio Lane Site, 14CO385

Sea Snail Shell from the Radio Lane Site, 14CO385
Date: 1400-1725 CE
This sea snail shell fragment was recovered from the Radio Lane archeological site in Cowley County. The shell is from the virgate Panama cone snail that is native to the Pacific Ocean from Baja California, Mexico to northern Peru. To find this shell in Kansas suggests either trade with people further southwest or, less likely, travel by the people living at the site to that area. The Radio Lane site was a large Great Bend aspect (ancestral Wichita) village. Kansas Historical Society archeologists and crew excavated there during an archeological salvage project in 1995.


Shell Bead from 14SA407

Shell Bead from 14SA407
Date: 1000-1500 CE
This shell disk bead was found on the surface of a Middle Ceramic period Smoky Hill aspect camp site in Saline County. It was donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2017.


Shell Bead from the Ade Site, 14MP311

Shell Bead from the Ade Site, 14MP311
Date: 1000-1800 CE
This shell bead was collected from the Ade site in McPherson County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2004. The bead was cut and drilled from a mussel shell. The Ade site was a multicomponent camp site with occupations in the Middle Ceramic, Late Ceramic, and Historic periods.


Shell Bead from the Breckinridge Place Site, 14OB408

Shell Bead from the Breckinridge Place Site, 14OB408
Date: 1-1000 CE
These shell beads were recovered from an Osbourne County archeological site occupied during the Early Ceramic period. The shell beads were likely crafted from mussel shell.


Shell Bead from the Macy Site, 14RY38

Shell Bead from the Macy Site, 14RY38
Date: 2-654 CE
This small shell bead was recovered from the surface at the Macy site in Riley County in 1995 by Kansas Historical Society archeologists. The disk bead was likely manufactured from a mussel shell. The Macy site is a multicomponent camp site that was occupied periodically during the Early Ceramic to Middle Ceramic periods and into Historic times.


Shell Bead or Modern Reproduction from 14MY318

Shell Bead or Modern Reproduction from 14MY318
Date: Unknown
This white bead was recovered on the surface of an archeological site in Montgomery County with multiple occupations during the Early and Middle Ceramic periods. Closer examination of the round bead left Archeologists puzzled. Was it made of shell or was it a quality plastic reproduction mimicking shell-like patterns?


Shell Beads from 14SA451

Shell Beads from 14SA451
Date: 1000-1500 CE
These two shell beads were collected from an Early Ceramic period small camp site in Saline County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2017. Both beads were made on freshwater shell.


Shell Beads from Fool Chief's Village, 14SH305

Shell Beads from Fool Chief's Village, 14SH305
Date: 1828-1844
These marine shell beads were recovered during excavations at Fool Chief's Village, a Kansa village in Shawnee County. Fool Chief's Village was the site of the 2012 Kansas Archeology Training Program field school, though excavations continued into 2013. These tubular beads are called wampum and are made from an Atlantic clam shell and then traded into the area.


Shell Beads from Riley County

Shell Beads from Riley County
Date: Unknown
These beads were collected in Riley County and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 1984. The fragile beads were likely crafted from mussel shells.


Shell Buttons from Constitution Hall, 14DO321

Shell Buttons from Constitution Hall, 14DO321
Date: 1856-1940
These shell buttons were collected during an excavation in 1988 by Kansas Historical Society archeologists and crew members at Constitution Hall in Lecompton. The buttons include a recessed 4-hole button, decorated 4-hole buttons, a 4-hole dish button, and 2-hole buttons. The Hall, in Lecompton, was designated a National Historical Landmark for its role in the 1857 Lecompton Constitution. The building is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The hall was constructed in 1855 and functioned in a variety of different roles.


Shell Buttons from the Adair Cabin, 14MM327

Shell Buttons from the Adair Cabin, 14MM327
Date: 1855-1912
These shell buttons were just a few of those recovered during excavations in 2014 of the Adair Cabin site, home of Reverend Samuel and Florella Brown Adair and their family, in Osawatomie, Kansas. The buttons include a small burned 2-hole button, likely a child's, three recessed 2- hole buttons, and a single fish eye 2-hole button. Osawatomie and the Adairs were much involved with the abolitionist movement during the "Bleeding Kansas" years.


Shell Buttons from the Mahaffie Farmstead and Stagecoach Stop, 14JO356

Shell Buttons from the Mahaffie Farmstead and Stagecoach Stop, 14JO356
Date: 1858-1886
These four shell buttons were recovered during excavations in 1988 at a joint venture between Kansas Historical Society archeologists, Kansas Anthropological Association volunteers, and the City of Olathe. The buttons include a recessed 2-hole button, a 4-hole button with a five petal flower decoration, a 4-hole button with an eight-pointed design, and a 2-hole fish-eye button. The site consisted of the residence and out buildings built by James and Lucinda Mahaffie in 1858. The farmstead later served as a stagecoach stop on the Santa Fe trail.


Shell Hoe from 14SA402

Shell Hoe from 14SA402
Date: 1000-1500 CE
Shell hoes are a rare find at Kansas archeology sites. This artifact was recovered in 1963 from a Saline County site and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2017. The mussel shell was perforated in the center and this hole served as a mount for the handle. The hoe shows grinding and polish on the working edge.


Shell Hoes from Archeological Site 14SA415

Shell Hoes from Archeological Site 14SA415
Date: 1200-1299 CE
These gardening hoes were recovered from excavations at archeological site 14SA415 in the 1970s and donated to the Kansas Historical Society in 2020. The hoes were made of local mussel shells and show use wear on the edges. The mussel shells were perforated in the center and these holes served as mounts for the handles. They were recovered from a Smoky Hill phase lodge at the site occupied during the Middle Ceramic period in Saline County.


Shell Hoes from the Aerhart Site, 14OT5

Shell Hoes from the Aerhart Site, 14OT5
Date: 1000-1400 CE
These two shell hoes were collected from the Aerhart site in 1934 and donated in 1971 to the Kansas Historical Society. The Aerhart site, in Ottawa County, was a Smoky Hill phase site with one circular house with an entryway to the southeast. Each of the shells came from a Washboard mussel. The mussel shell was perforated in the center and this hole served as a mount for the handle.


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