Glycimeris shell

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Glycimeris is a genus of marine bivalve mollusks. The genus includes many species and is found worldwide.

Glycimeris shells have a special archaeological significance in the southwestern USA, because the shells were used in trade item production by the Hohokam tribe of Amerindians.

These Glycimeris shells came from a very large (up to 10 cms) and handsome species, Glycimeris gigantea, which is found in what is now western Mexico, from the Pacific coast of Baja California, throughout the Gulf of California or Sea of Cortez, and from there as far south as Acapulco.

The Hohokam people primarily used these large Glycimeris shells to make bracelets and rings; the center of the shell was generally removed immediately after the bivalves were collected, and before transport back to the Hohokam villages in the Gila Basin.

There are several scholarly journals which have articles dealing with shell trade in the American Southwest which mention the Glycimeris shell.


  • Colton, Harold Sellers. Prehistoric Trade in the Southwest. The Scientific Monthly. Vol 52, No.4 (Apr., 1941): 308-319.
  • Woodward, Arthur. A Shell Bracelet Manufactory. American Antiquity. Vol. 2, No. 2 (Oct., 1936): 117-125.
  • Keen, Myra, 1971. Sea shells of tropical west America, second edition, Stanford University Press.

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