Australian Museum Journal Pre-Lapita valuables in island Melanesia. In A Pacific Odyssey: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific. Papers in Honour of Jim Specht

Shortform:
Torrence, 2004, Rec. Aust. Mus., Suppl. 29: 163–172
Author(s):
Torrence, Robin
Year published:
2004
Title:
Pre-Lapita valuables in island Melanesia. In A Pacific Odyssey: Archaeology and Anthropology in the Western Pacific. Papers in Honour of Jim Specht
Serial title:
Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement
Volume:
29
Start page:
163
End page:
172
DOI:
10.3853/j.0812-7387.29.2004.1413
Language:
English
Date published:
19 May 2004
Cover date:
19 May 2004
ISBN:
ISBN 0-9750476-2-0 (printed), ISBN 0-9750476-3-9 (online)
ISSN:
0812-7387
CODEN:
RAMSEZ
Publisher:
The Australian Museum
Place published:
Sydney, Australia
Subjects:
ANTHROPOLOGY
Digitized:
19 May 2004
Available online:
19 May 2004
Reference number:
1413
EndNote package:
EndNote file
Title page:
Title page (13kb PDF)
Complete work:
Complete work (1515kb PDF)

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 of ceremonial 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.

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