Experimental and archaeological studies of use-wear and residues on obsidian artefacts from Papua New Guinea
The importance of microscopic examination and experimental replication techniques are being increasingly recognised in the field of functional analysis. The integrated use-wear/residue analytical techniques presented here focus particularly on understanding the processes of wear formation and the extent to which wear patterns on both ancient obsidian artefacts and experimental tools can be identified by microscopic techniques. The careful application of a wider range of techniques and a more precise methodology than had been employed in previous studies of obsidian implements increases the reliability of functional interpretations of prehistoric artefacts. A specific case study is presented to demonstrate the validity of the methodology developed. Methods of functional analysis were used to study obsidian assemblages dating to the middle and Late Holocene recovered from excavations at the FAO site on Garua Island, West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. The results of the research allow reconstructions of human behaviour over time to be substantiated or challenged.
The comprehensive set of colour microphotographs of identified wear patterns derived from an extensive experimental program are presented alongside images of archaeological tools which had been replicated by the experimental tools. The images represent a valuable resource providing researchers with useful tools for the analysis of obsidian artefacts derived from archaeological contexts in many other parts of the world. This research is intended as a reference tool for students and specialists, particularly those analysing artefacts made from obsidian.