Archaeology and Shell Adzes in Prehistoric Oceania: A Revised Methodological Approach to the Descriptive Analysis of a Solomon Islands Collection
This dissertation examines archaeological study of shell adzes in the Pacific. It provides a critical review of archaeological methodology and terminology used in descriptive analysis of this artefact class. It raises important problems that are hindering this subject including a lack of clarity and conformity in the selection of criteria used to describe shell adzes, ambiguity in nomenclature, and the restricted capacity of existing criteria to accommodate a wide range of morphological variation of these artefacts. In addition, it argues that archaeologists have focused almost exclusively on describing typological variation for culture historical purposes. This is problematic as it has resulted in the neglect of a wider range of issues important in shell adze study, specifically technology, function and ecology. A revised methodology is proposed to address these problems and is applied in the descriptive analysis of two collections of shell adzes from Solomon Islands: one stored at the Otago Museum in Dunedin, New Zealand and the other at Solomon Islands National Museum in Honiara, Solomon Islands. The morphological and metric characteristics of the different shell adze varieties is described, as well as evidence of manufacturing processes involved in their creation. The findings of this analysis are then discussed in relation to their implications for broadening shell adze analysis by incorporating technological, functional and ecological issues. Problems encountered in the analysis are highlighted, and recommendations are made to further develop methodology in shell adze analysis.
Advisor: Walter, Richard
Degree Name: Bachelor of Arts Honours
Degree Discipline: Anthropology and Archaeology
Keywords: archaeology; shell adze; Solomon Islands; descriptive analysis
Research Type: Dissertation
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