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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Bibliographic Data

Short Form
Torrence, 2004, Rec. Aust. Mus., Suppl. 29: 163–172
Author
Robin Torrence
Year
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
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Title Page
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Complete Work
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