The Archaeology of Porcellanite in New Zealand
Porcellanite is a lithic material that was used by early Māori to manufacture flake tools in Murihiku. This thesis examines how porcellanite was procured during the early colonisation of Murihiku. How lithic sources were utilised is important for studying the colonisation of new landscapes, as lithic sources begin as unknown variables at the onset of colonisation. Known porcellanite source sites were surveyed and material was archaeologically and geologically characterised, since the quality, form and availability of raw material influences the lithic production process. Evidence regarding how material was procured was identified, as decisions made at lithic procurement sites impact all subsequent aspects of a subsistence system. Raw porcellanite samples were collected from surveyed source sites and were subject to hand-specimen characterisation and pXRF analysis. pXRF analysis of porcellanite was highly experimental, but the results showed confident separation between the known porcellanite sources. A small porcellanite flake assemblage from the Shag River Mouth site was also analysed by pXRF and the majority of artefacts were positively correlated with the known source samples. The research of this thesis assessed how archaeologically recorded porcellanite sources were utilised, and in turn, this helped to better understand landscape exploration, settlement patterns and resource use strategies.
Advisor: Thomas, Tim
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Archaeology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; archaeology; porcellanite; porcelanite; lithic; pxrf; characterisation; murihiku; mudrock; jasper; moa hunting; anthropology
Research Type: Thesis