The introduction of colorful European glass beads met with ready acceptance by Indian people, and they offered new creative possibilities. These beads replaced the traditional hand-drilled beads of bone or shell that had once been highly valued exotic items and were often traded across great distances. In the Southeast during the Mississippi Culture period, we find depictions of figures wearing wrist and calf ornaments or belts made of strings of shell beads. The masses of shell beads on the wrists and ankles and beneath the knees of the bodies of dignitaries found in graves at such Mississippian culture sites as Etowah and Ocmulgee indicate the importance of beads to their owners in both life and death.
Early European explorers, recognizing the appeal of beads to the natives, anticipated the popularity of glass beads. On his famous voyage in 1492 Christopher Columbus carried beads, with which he hoped to gain the Indians' favor. He wrote in his log of his landing on October 12, 1492: "Soon after a large crowd of natives congregated there. . . . In order to win the friendship and affection of that people . . . I presented them with red caps and some strings of glass beads which they placed around their necks, and with other trifles of insignificant worth that delighted them and by which we have got a wonderful hold on their affections" (Orchard 1975, 16).
Likewise, the Spanish explorers Páno Narváez in 1528 and Hernando de Soto 1539 carried with them several varieties of faceted chevron glass beads and colored ceramic beads, which can now be used to identify