Producing value: Stemmed tools from Garua Island, Papua New Guinea

19th November 2013

Type 1 stemmed artefacts possible broken during manufacture (published in Australian Archaeology 57:120).

Type 1 stemmed artefacts possible broken during manufacture (published in Australian Archaeology 57:120).

Pip Rath and Robin Torrence

Previous studies have proposed that large, stemmed obsidian artefacts from the Willaumez Peninsula region, Papua New Guinea, might have circulated as ‘valuables.’ To evaluate how the value of these artefacts was created, an integrated characterisation and technological study was conducted on Type 1 retouched blades from Garua Island. A staged production system using obsidian from both local and imported sources was identified. Although the final shape and size of the artefacts are nearly identical, imported and local obsidian were treated in different ways. Partially trimmed cores of non-local obsidian were imported to Garua Island, where the final stages were completed alongside the complete reduction sequence using local obsidian. We argue that these objects acquired their meaning as valuables partly because they represented successful management of the social relations required to acquire raw material and complete the staged production process.

Rath, P. and R. Torrence
Producing value: Stemmed tools from Garua Island, Papua New Guinea
2003
57
119–127
Article
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