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Marine shell beads

Marine-shell beads were a luxury and “operated primarily as wealth items (possibly as primitive money) in Mississippian societies and secondarily as symbols of status, mortuary, and religious icons” (Power 2004, 111). Frequently, those of higher status “wore and were buried with larger quantities of beads” than those of lesser status (Power 2004, 111). Shell beads were used as luxury and monetary items and as such were frequently worn decoratively and traded. Some argue that the shell bead size plays a role in its value, which means that “the larger the bead, the higher the rank” of the owner (Power 2004, 112).