Shell beads and social behaviour in Pleistocene Australia

Jane Balme, Kate Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)
486 Downloads (Pure)


Why did Palaeolithic people wear shells, and why was the practice so widespread in the world? The authors' own researches in Western Australia show that specific marine shells were targeted, subject to special processes of manufacture into beads and that some had travelled hundreds of kilometres from their source. Whether they were brought in land by the manufacturers, or by specially ornamented people, these beads provided a symbolic language that somehow kept the early peoples of Australia in touch with the sea.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-811
Issue number310
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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