Kononenko 2011 coverJohn Mulvaney Book Award 2012

Nina Kononenko


Experimental and Archaeological Studies of Use-Wear and Residues on Obsidian Artefacts from Papua New Guinea

This monograph presents the results of an extensive series of experiments that form the basis for an analysis of obsidian artefacts from a Holocene site on Garua Island in West New Britain, PNG. The book makes an outstanding contribution to the study of use-wear on obsidian tools and will become an essential source for scholars working all over the world.

In this book, Nina has developed practical and theoretical approaches to the study of use wear on stone artefacts. In his review of the book in the Journal of Archaeological Science, George Odell, one of the foremost proponents of use-wear studies, sums up the importance of this monograph:

Nina Kononenko has produced one of the most thoughtful and thoroughly researched lithic use-wear studies of the past 20 years … This project has brought functional analysis to a new level, and has provided a strong basis of future functional inferences.

The book presents the results of 292 use wear and residue experiments, many of which were carried out in PNG with local people undertaking the tasks. The subsequent analysis of 1395 flaked obsidian artefacts, most of which were unretouched, demonstrates just how valuable Nina’s experimental data are. Her microscopic examination is clearly described, along with discussions of likely taphonomic and post-depositional problems.

An outstanding part of the book is the set of 225 colour photographs and the line drawings illustrating the nature and location of the identified use-wear and residues on each flaked stone artefact and experimental specimen. These comprise an essential comparative library of use-wear and residues that will assist archaeological researchers and students around the world in their interpretation of use-wear and residues on obsidian artefacts. In the international journal, Lithic Technology, Michael Haslam stated that these may be ‘the most useful single resource for understanding the visual comparisons underlying … use-wear analysis that has ever been published’.

A PDF version of this book can be downloaded from the Australian Museum website by clicking here.