Persistent traditions in the face of natural disasters: Stemmed and waisted stone tools in late Holocene New Britain, Papua New Guinea

01st June 2010

Kononenko et al AA70 Fig 4a

One of the investigated stemmed tools from site FAAJ (image from Australian Archaeology 70:21).

Nina Kononenko, Jim Specht and Robin Torrence

Studies of the technology and function of small retouched stemmed and waisted stone tools from late Holocene sites in central New Britain provide a powerful means for monitoring the effects of the massive W-K2 volcanic eruption (3480–3150 cal BP), after which pottery occurs in this region for the first time. Use-wear and residue studies show that these tools were used for processing soft starchy plant materials (tubers and wood) and human tattooing. Despite the catastrophically destructive event, results indicate cultural continuity, most likely by descendants of the original population, rather than population replacement or major cultural change. These results contribute to the ongoing debate about possible migration from Island Southeast Asia c.3400 years ago.

Nina Kononenko, Jim Specht and Robin Torrence
Persistent traditions in the face of natural disasters: Stemmed and waisted stone tools in late Holocene New Britain, Papua New Guinea
June 2010
70
17-28
Article
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