Middle and late Holocene skin-working tools in Melanesia: Tattooing and scarification?
Article first published online: 2 JAN 2013
2012 The University of Sydney
Archaeology in Oceania
Volume 47, Issue 1, pages 14–28, April 2012
How to Cite
KONONEN, N. (2012), Middle and late Holocene skin-working tools in Melanesia: Tattooing and scarification?. Archaeology in Oceania, 47: 14–28. doi: 10.1002/j.1834-4453.2012.tb00111.x
- Issue published online: 2 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 2 JAN 2013
- West New Britain;
- use-wear/residue analysis;
- stemmed tools;
Use-wear/residue analysis of small flakes and stemmed tools made of obsidian and quartz, from middle and late Holocene archaeological sites in Melanesia, indicates their use in piercing and cutting soft skin. This skin-working activity was possibly associated with occasional manufacture of items from animal skins but it is more likely these tools were used for tattooing, scarification or medical treatment of the human body. Tattooing by cutting and piercing and scarification are an integral aspect of social behaviour among peoples in the Pacific region. I argue that the practice of tattooing by cutting and piercing were both used in Melanesia in the middle Holocene, but tattooing by piercing became more common in the late Holocene.