Abstract

An unusual obsidian stemmed tool found by Jim Specht at Boku Hill, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea, provides evidence for the existence of valuables in the pre-Lapita period. The large amount of skill, care, and effort invested in the manufacture of this large artefact combined with its symmetry and fragility imply that, unlike the other stemmed tools found at the site, Specht’s find was not used in an utilitarian context. As in the case of axes in the Highlands of New Guinea, stemmed artefacts were therefore both useful tools and non-utilitarian objects which circulated in some form ofceremonial exchange system and for which control of the Kutau/Bao obsidian sources  may have been important. The occurrence of valuables pre-dating Lapita pottery demonstrates that social systems based on ceremonial exchange and prestige goods were not imported, but developed in situ.

 
Full article by Dr Robin Torrence

Bibliographic Data

Title
Pre-Lapita valuables in island Melanesia
Author
Torrence, R.
Editor
V. Attenbrow and R. Fullagar
Year
2004
Publication Type
Book Chapter
Publisher
Australian Museum: Records of the Australian Museum
Book Title
A Pacific Odyssey: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific. Papers in Honour of Jim Specht
Number of pages
163-172
Edition
29
Publisher
Australian Museum: Records of the Australian Museum
Place Published
Sydney
Abstract URL
Contents/overview of Records of the Australian Museum, Vol. 29
Full Text
Full article by Dr Robin Torrence