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Engraved prehistoric Conus shell valuables from southeastern Papua New Guinea: their antiquity, motifs and distribution.


In the early 1900s thirteen engraved Conus shell valuables were dug from prehistoric midden mounds in Oro Province. Since the early 1970s nineteen undated surface finds have been found in the northern Massim of Milne Bay Province.

When three artifacts became available for AMS radiocarbon dating, provided they were restored after sampling to their original visual appearance, a specialist team was assembled and this paper reports its findings regarding the thirty-two shells. The paper covers sampling and conservation, dating (including new information on the local oceanic reservoir effect), distribution, art, depositional and cultural histories.

These distinctive Conus shell valuables are part of the material culture found along the northern coast of the eastern tip of New Guinea and on the islands of the northern Massim during the Expansion Phase c.1000-500 BP. Their decoration is comparable to that produced by Milne Bay Province woodcarvers in historic times. This continuity makes them the oldest radiocarbon dated artifacts decorated in the Massim art style.

Keywords: Conus shell valuables, exchange, kula, late Holocene, oceanic reservoir effect, Milne Bay Province, Massim art, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, sampling, museum artifacts, trade


Pamela Swadling and Harry Beran

The engraved Conus artifacts from southeastern Papua New Guinea have long been recognised for their artistic merit (e.g. Monckton 1905; Poch 1907a; Seligman and Joyce 1907; Specht 1988; White et al. 1970), but their age has remained uncertain. Thirteen were found in prehistoric midden mounds at Rainu in the Wanigela area (Collingwood Bay, Oro Province) in the first decade of the 20th century and since 1971 another 19 have been reported from widely separated islands in the Massim region, which coincides approximately with Milne Bay Province (Fig. 1). These Conus artifacts are of particular interest as they are the earliest radiocarbon dated artifacts known decorated in the Massim art style, one of the major art regions of Papua New Guinea.

The sampling and restoration of three Conus shell artifacts (one from Rainu in the Wanigela area and two from Budibudi Atoll) by Wal Ambrose and dating by Fiona Petchey provide the foundation from which the rest of this paper developed. The other contributors examine the nature of the artifacts and their regional differences, where and how they were found, their iconography and how they fit in to what is known of the prehistory of eastern Papua New Guinea.

The known finds of engraved Conus artifacts

Harry Beran, Simon Bickler and Pamela Swadling

All the engraved Conus artifacts found at Rainu in the Wanigela area were unearthed and this also seems the case in the Massim region. Little is known about their archaeological context in either the midden mounds at Rainu or within the Massim. With the exception of two finds from Lidau on Woodlark Island that were exposed by a bulldozer on a logging road, the Massim finds seem to have been found in coastal locations. The Fergusson Island find was collected in an inland village, but the presence of marine worm activity on the inside of the shell indicates that the artifact was found in a coastal area. Katherine Szabo describes the physical condition of the two recently dated Budibudi finds. One of these shows that subsequent to its manufacture and initial use it was exposed to a marine environment. After its discovery in more recent times some surfaces on this Budibudi artifact were reworked.

Thirty-two Conus artifacts are held in public and private collections and all but four are illustrated below. Tables 1 and 2 list the finds. Figure 2 gives the terminology used to describe Conus shells in this paper.



The Wanigela context and finds

Elizabeth Bonshek and Pamela Swadling

The engraved shells were found when the Wanigela mission station was relocated from an inland location to Rainu on the coast of Collingwood Bay. The first mission station had been established in 1898 adjacent to a fortified inland village called Wanigela. At the time the missionaries arrived the fortified village contained an alliance of clans whose origins stretched out along Collingwood Bay. In 1904, when the mission relocated to the unoccupied nearby coastal strip, the villagers at Wanigela decided to move with the missionaries. They established two villages, namely Rainu and Oreresan, on either side of the mission station. Since then the name Wanigela refers to the area rather than a specific settlement (Egloff 1979: 1, 19).

At Collingwood Bay, settlements are situated on narrow strips of ground that occur between the shoreline and inland swamps and are higher than either. The thirteen engraved shells from Rainu (Figs 4, 5, 10b) were found when ancient midden mounds, located on one of these strips, were levelled to infill swampy parts of the mission station site. In historic times the shoreline of Collingwood Bay has been actively eroding. Some prehistoric midden mounds have been lost to the sea. For instance, Poch (1907a) reports seeing a house built in a high airy location on a midden mound at Uiaku village at the southern end of Collingwood Bay. The old part of this village has now been washed away (Barker 1985: 31), as has one of the Wanigela mounds (described by Money 1905). A survey of the Rainu mission site made in 1903 indicates that the shoreline was then 30 metres further out (Egloff 1979: 10). Erosion continues to be a problem in Collingwood Bay and from time to time villagers have to relocate their houses further inland.



Two Anglican missionaries, a government officer and an Austrian ethnologist were responsible for collecting the engraved shells now held in museum collections (Table 1). Percy Money (a layman) and the Rev. A.K. Chignell were based at the mission at this time. C.A.W. Monckton was the Resident Magistrate who with Money's assistance had established the government station at Tufi in 1901 and subsequently surveyed the mission site at Rainu. Monckton collected three shells and placed these in the British Museum. Money collected six shells, now in the Australian Museum in Sydney. Chignell collected two, currently held at the British and Horniman museums in London. Rudolf Poch found one engraved shell in his excavations. It is now in the Museum for Volkerkunde in Vienna. How the anthropologist Charles G. Seligman obtained the shell he deposited at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, England, is not recorded in their catalogue. Seligman was in correspondence with Monckton and did send him chemicals that were used in an unsuccessful attempt to conserve skeletal material found in the mounds; in return it is possible that Monckton sent him a shell (Chignell 1911; Egloff 1971; Gash 1975; Monckton 1905, 1922; Poch 1907a, 1907b and 1907c; Seligman and Joyce 1907).

The mounds to the south and west of Oreresan village became the focus of Brian Egloff's 1967 archaeological investigations, as the mounds in the Rainu area had been levelled. Egloff was unable to investigate the largest surviving mound (his mound A) as it had been a cemetery for 60 years, but was able to excavate three mounds he calls B and D (above the Sasap River), and C (located to the west of Oreresan village). Radiocarbon dates were obtained for these three mounds. They date from 1410 calBP to 680 calBP/AD 540-1270 (Egloff 1979: 19-20, 24-25, 29, 31; Brian Egloff pers. comm. 2011).

The excavations posed challenges with respect to discerning the stratigraphy of the middens. Although the excavations were extensive and yielded large quantities of potsherds, they seldom revealed clear-cut stratigraphic layers. The basal deposits of mound C have the best representation of the earliest pottery documented for the Cape Nelson-D'Entrecasteaux Islands region, but the bulk of the mound deposits consists of pottery made during the Expansion Phase that dates from c.1000-500 BP/c.AD 950-1450. We now know that this is the phase when the Conus shell artifacts were engraved and used, but Egloff did not find any examples in the three mounds he excavated. The upper deposits of mounds B and D have pottery assigned by Egloff to the Refuge Phase starting c.500 BP, as the other sites that have the same pottery are in marginal areas, such as the extensive swamps at the mouth of the Anina River (Egloff 1979: 20, 85-87; Brian Egloff pers. comm. 2011).

The engraved Conus artifacts found at Rainu are predominantly decorated with curvilinear designs, although one artifact (Oc1905,0209.336) is atypical. Its unmodified shell and rectilinear rather than curvilinear design make it stand out. This design consists of a number of sets of nested chevrons which form a diamond where they meet, like this <<<>>>. This motif resembles one used in historic times in Wanigela to indicate chiefly status. It is found on some headrests and lime spatulas in museum collections. Today, it is also found on pot rims and graces the Church of St Peter at Sarad Mission near the Wanigela airstrip.

The Massim context and finds

Harry Beran, Simon Bickler and Pamela Swadling

Nineteen engraved Conus shells have been found in the Massim islands, the great majority at Budibudi Atoll.

Finds from Budibudi Atoll (Figs 6,7, 8, l0a)

Fourteen engraved shells have now been collected from Budibudi Atoll with at least seven of the known finds originating from Wabulak Island. When Simon Bickler did his archaeological fieldwork in 1995-6, five engraved shells from Budibudi were held in a southeast Woodlark village. On the basis of the brief field survey he did at Budibudi Atoll, Bickler suspects that the engraved shells he saw on Woodlark had been found on Wabulak Island. The offcut produced when one of the engraved shells was made into a kula armshell on Woodlark was used to obtain the first radiocarbon date for an engraved Conus artifact from the Massim (Bickler 2006). Another shell (Bickler 1) was cut after Bickler's departure and collected as a kula valuable on Budibudi by Richard Aldridge along with two other engraved Conus now held in the John and Marcia Friede (Jolika) collection in New York. Szabo's report on these two shows that one has spent some time in a marine environment.



In August 1997 four passengers on board a private boat obtained seven engraved shells from Budibudi Atoll. At the time John Heaton, one of the passengers, recorded the following information as to how they had been found. An old man on Wabulak Island:

explained how a few months before he and his companions went out to gather coral rocks at low tide in view of repairing the foundation of a communal hut. That is when they stumbled upon a coral rock mound from which they decided to gather the stones. When excavating the mound about half way they found the shells. They were bundled together as white birds in a nest. The old man thought they had been placed there a long time ago and as long as he knew they had been protected from the elements within this cocoon of stones. It sounded as if the structure he described had been purposefully designed as a cache to hide and protect the shells for decades or centuries (John Heaton pets. comm. 2010).

The old man possessed six of the engraved shells while another was held by a man on Budalun Island who had obtained it not long before on Wabulak Island. The Budalun Islander confirmed the account as to how the engraved Conus shells had been found on Wabulak Island.

Imdeduya found at Wawela, Kiriwina

John Kasaipwalova (pers. comm. 2009) has told Harry Beran that he called this shell Imdeduya after a beautiful woman of this name in a kula epic entitled Yolina (Fig. 9c). He bought it from a relative at Wawela who had found it at the old village site of Wawela. In about 1976-79 the artifact had been washed out of the lower strata of a sand dune by the sea. Kasaipwalova added:



   I had [the shell] in my possession for ... twenty years but
   when my father was sick and towards his final year I
   presented it to him as a farewell 'headrest'. On the day
   he passed away I was not present and in the course of
   'caretaking' of valuables at his death this was taken. I do
   not know who has it now or whether it has been stolen.

For accounts of the Yolina myth see Leach (1981) and Senft (2008).

Nuratu, found at a small uninhabited islet of this name off the west coast of Kitava

This engraved shell (Figs 9b, 11) was already in the kula in 1970 (G.J. (Fred) Gerrits pers. comm. 2011) and was still in it in 2009 (John Kasaipwalova, pers. comm. 2009). Note that the bead decoration was changed between the report by Mackay (1971) and the subsequent photograph in Leach and Leach (1983: Plate 6).

Natasha and Nicola found at Lidau, Woodlark Island

These two carved shells were found at Lidau on Woodlark Island in the late 20th century by a brother of Pelupelu of Kitava, or that brother's wife, while making gardens after bulldozers had made a logging road through to Lidau. Pelupelu obtained them from his brother and gave them to John Kasaipwalova. The latter has told one of the authors that 'when Pelupelu brought the two [shells] to me, he had already decorated them and even had them "baptised" as Natasha and Nicola by indelible ink ... for my twin daughters Natasha and Nicola'. In the 1990s, Kasaipwalova 'placed' the shells with John Kanadi hoping to raise school fees for his children. When Kasaipwalova saw Kanadi in 2009, the latter said that the shells were with his wife Judy, from whom he had by then separated, in Anagusa (Bentley) Island in the Engineer Group (John Kasaipwalova, pers. comm. 2009).

Shell found on Fergusson Island

This engraved shell (Fig. 9a) was collected in an inland village of Fergusson Island. Swadling has observed evidence of marine excavating sponge (Cliona sp.) activity on the inside of the shell (see also report below by Katherine Szabo on the presence of this sponge on one of the Budibudi finds). This activity indicates that after being made into an artifact the shell had been buried near the seashore. When discovered in more recent times it was reworked to make a kula valuable by drilling holes along the lip so that decorations can be attached.

The physical state of two Conus artifacts from Budibudi (JFB.088.1, JFB.088.2)

Katherine Szabo

These two large, carved Conus cf. leopardus shells (Fig. 6) have a number of surface features that reveal particular aspects of their history as artifacts. Both show evidence of reworking, while the larger example shows evidence of discard or loss followed by recovery and recirculation as an artifact. The two artifacts are discussed in turn.

Conus artifact JFB.088.1. This artifact is considerably more worn and damaged than the smaller specimen. Differential wear and damage on the various worked surfaces give clues to its life history as an artifact. The most revealing modification to the shell's surface are the numerous small pits created by the excavating sponge Cliona sp. (Porifera: Clionidae). An important 'bioeroder', clionids attack carbonate surfaces in shallow water marine environments producing rounded tunnels and galleries in the substrate (Calcinai et al. 2003). Clionid borings are frequently found on marine shells, and are sometimes even found actively excavating into the surfaces of shells of living molluscs (Vermeij 1978: 64). However, if a mollusc still occupies the shell, pits will only be found on the outer surface of the shell. If clionid pits are located on the inner shell surface, or on fracture surfaces of broken shells, then the damage certainly happened after the death and decay of the mollusc (Walker 1998: 111).



For the purposes of shell artifact analysis, clionid borings on worked surfaces (excluding the shell exterior) clearly indicate that the artifact was redeposited back into seawater after working. Such is the case with artifact JFB.088.1. There is clionid damage on ground and chipped surfaces--primarily, but not exclusively, on the ventral surface (aperature side) of the shell. However it is clear that there has also been an episode of grinding in the anterior portion of the shell after the occurrence of clionid damage. This is demonstrated by the sectioning of a number of clionid pits during the grinding process, exposing inner chambers and walls of clionid excavations. The action of bioeroders thus tells us that the shell was initially worked, deposited back into the sea, and then recovered and reworked.

Despite the extensive damage caused by clionids, it is difficult to estimate the minimum amount of time the artifact may have been underwater before retrieval. Experiments investigating bioerosion rates and CaC[O.sup.3] loss in various natural materials revealed a loss rate of 17.59kg/[m.sup.2] (dry weight) in Tridacna squamosa on the Great Barrier Reef (SchOnberg 2002: 317). However the specifics of depositional environment and other environmental variables that influence growth rates and reproduction make firm estimates of shell loss over time difficult (Rutzler 1975: 215). The Conus artifact discussed here could have remained underwater for a period of months to years.

Examination of the worked surfaces provides further evidence for ongoing modification of the artifact. Apart from the sequence of grinding and bioerosion damage, other surfaces display differential wear. The worked edge running parallel to the spire is heavily rounded as is the spire itself where the apex has been removed to produce a hole. This contrasts with the reduced lip of the aperture, which shows a mixture of older and fresher breaks.

Conus artifact JFB.088.2. The traces of working on the smaller of the two specimens closely match those seen in the larger example, including grinding along the split body whorl of the shell, a rounded and heavily worn break running parallel to the spire sutures, and an aperture lip region showing evidence of more recent breakage. The major differentiating feature is that there is no clionid damage to indicate a period of loss/discard of the artifact.

Description of the prehistoric material

Pamela Swadling, Harry Beran and Simon Bickler

The shells from the Massim and Wanigela have different shapes; see Types 1 and 2 in Figure 3. The effort put into shaping the Conus shell artifacts as well as the engraved decoration on them indicate that they were items of value. Those from Wanigela were originally Type 1 artifacts that were cannibalised for their armshells in the prehistoric past.

The Massim artifacts (Type 1) have a hole in the spire cap, the inner whorls have been removed and the upper part of the body whorl has been cut at right angles to the aperature. Fourteen of the fifteen examples for which we have photographs are worked in this way. Imdeduya from Wawela, Kiriwina, has a small hole in the spire cap, but it is not clear from the available illustration whether the body whorl has been cut. It certainly lacks the gouged notch on the upper body whorl of the shell.

The hole in the spire cap of the Massim artifacts is too small to allow them to be worn as a armshells. They would be cumbersome as pendants, but their careful shaping and decoration indicates that they were valued artifacts. The hole through the spiral cap and right angle cut into the body whorl would have allowed a rope to be threaded through so that multiple artifacts could be strung together, perhaps in a comparable way to the 22 armshells shown in Malinowski's photo taken on Kiriwina in 1915 (Young 1998: 229, Hate 155). These mwali were strung and hung from a pole so that two men could carry them. When not strung on a rope the Type 1 artifact can stand independently if it is placed on its spire cap end. This is the orientation used in the illustrations provided here. It may be the intended display orientation. When placed this way the bird on E15597 from Wanigela is aligned with the land or sea whereas anthropomorphic faces are orientated to the sky (see Oc1905,0209.338 from Wanigela).

Most of the Wanigela Conus artifacts are arc-shaped pieces of shell. The spire cap, inside whorls and upper part of the body whorl are absent. Only 2 of the 13 known finds from Wanigela are not arc-shaped. Most Wanigela artifacts were originally Type 1 artifacts from which the armshell section has been removed. In some cases the armshell was cut off at the notch leaving a bevelled edge, as in E12961. Some shells have a regular edge, such as Oc1905,0209.337, whereas others are more jagged and irregular such as Oc1905,0209.338. On a number of shells, the cuts were made without any attempt to preserve motifs on them intact, for example, on Oc1905,0209.337.

Two investigators, Monckton (1905: 33) and Poch (1907a: 68), report an association between engraved Conus shells and human remains. Monckton writes that in excavations that had been carded out by 'the mission and natives of Rainu', two fragmentary engraved shells (namely, Oc1905,0209.337 and Oc1905,0209.338) had been found among human remains 4 feet (120cm) below the surface; he adds, 'placed, I think, originally in graves'. In his own excavations at Rainu Poch found an engraved shell (namely 78172), which he thought was perhaps a piece of jewellery, among four human skeletons, approximately 1 metre below the surface. He goes on to say that the mound he had excavated was probably a midden (Abfallshugel) on which a house had been built and that the deceased had been buried under this house. He also found pig bones, potsherds, and shell knives in the same midden. Poch's remarks leave it unclear whether the engraved shell had been buried with the deceased or thrown away with animal bones, potsherds, and shell knives. Nevertheless, Monckton's and Poch's remarks point to the possibility that the engraved shell off-cuts, created when the artifacts were cannibalised to make armshells, may have been valued enough to have been used as grave goods.

No Conus armshells, similar to those used in the kula, have been excavated from the Wanigela middens. Only narrow armshells (about 5-10mm high) made from Conus and Trochus shell have been found there (Seligman and Joyce 1907, Fig. 4; Egloff 1979, Plate 13).

Apart from extracting armshells, some of the remaining offcuts may have been used to make longitudinal shaped small adze blades. One artifact, E15595, is a reduced arc-shaped piece of body whorl with an unfinished longitudinal cut that goes through engraved motifs. It is possible that this artifact was being cannibalised for raw material to make small Conus shell adzes. Extracting shell in this way may also explain the reduced arc of some artifacts such as E15598. Malinowski (Young 1988: 265) reports that the Mailu once made these artifacts, but at the time of his visit in 1914 they were no longer being made nor were discarded artifacts available for him to purchase.

There are two unusual finds from Rainu. The apex of E15596B has been cut away, but the inside body whorl has not been trimmed back to produce an arc-shape piece of shell. The second exception (Oc1905,209.336) is very different from the other finds. This shell is complete and decorated in a rectilinear style with a series of motifs each consisting of a diamond shape framed by nested chevrons. As mentioned above, the motif is similar to that on the supports of some contact-period headrests from Coilingwood Bay, as illustrated in Grunne (1979, fig. 9.10), Meyer (1995, fig. 157), Hamson and Aldridge (2009: 244-7), and Beran and Agulrre (2009, Ch. 6). Perhaps someone trained to carve in a rectilinear style engraved the shell in Coilingwood Bay, in imitation of the shells with curvilinear motifs.

At Rainu, some of the engraved Conus artifacts were cannibalised in the prehistoric past to make armshells. They have also been reused in the Massim. Since about 1971, a number of the engraved Conus shells unearthed there have gone into the kula. Some have entered it as full-length shells (Nuratu and HBII/53 from Fergusson). In this case, the only modification needed to make them into kula valuables was the drilling of a series of holes along the lip to attach egg cowries and trade beads. Bickler 2, Bickler 3, and Bickler 4 appear also to have entered the kula at full length as they are drawn with holes along the lip (see Figure 8). Other shells have been cut to produce armshells like those normally used in the kula, called mwali (JFB.0141 and Bickler 5). The shell JFB.0141 was photographed by Bickler as a full-length kula shell decorated with egg cowries, but was later cut into a mwali-style armshell. The lips of the full-length shells JFB.088.1 and JFB.088.2 are not drilled for attachments. As these lips are broken, the shells may not have been considered suitable for kula.

Making prehistoric finds into kula valuables may relate to the scarcity of large cone shells as exemplified by the splitting of paired mwali in order to increase the number of items available for exchange. During the early years of colonialism a shortage of mwali arose due to changes that allowed more people to participate in kula exchanges. To overcome this shortage paired armshells were separated and necklaces shortened (Liep and Affleck 1983: 126).

Unlike the others, Imdeduya is decorated all over with thin incisions. The grid pattern incised on the shell appears recent, possibly due to reworking, as the other incised designs appear to be contained within these grids.

The iconography of the carved shells

Harry Beran

The engraved shells are early examples of Massim art (cf. Poch 1907a: 71 and Damon 2002: 114). Indeed, the radiocarbon dates for four of them show that they are the earliest examples of this art known.

This can plausibly be asserted for two reasons. First, because the curvilinear style of the artwork on the shells is identical to that on Massim woodcarvings of the contact period. (Perhaps it should be mentioned that Massim pottery of this period is decorated predominantly in a rectilinear style.) Second, because a number of motifs on the shells still occur on contact-period Massim woodcarvings. However, it cannot be taken for granted that the meaning of the motifs in remote prehistory was the same as it is now. In view of the age of the carved shells, no attempt has been made to consult Massim informants regarding the ancient meaning of the motifs on them. Given the style of the motifs on the shells, they were probably engraved by woodcarvers. The shells in Figures 5b and 9c are excluded from the following discussion, the former because it is engraved in a rectilinear style, the latter because its design, while curvilinear, differs from the designs of the other shells.

In both the artifacts from the Massim region and Wanigela there is variation in the depth of engraving or incising; some shells have deep gouge-like incisions whereas others have thin line incisions. Moreover, the motifs on some shells are merely incised while those on others are carved in low relief (Table 3).

The prehistoric artists followed two design layout conventions: some shells have all-over decoration whereas others have a frame design with a central void (compare shells Bickler 4 and Oc1905,029.338 in Figure 10). The former design is more common on the shells found in Wanigela, the latter on the shells found in the Massim islands. Despite this difference, all the shells are likely to have been carved in the Massim region, as shells of the length found in Wanigela do not occur on fringing reefs such as those at Tuff (Swadling, pets. comm.).

On the Massim-found artifacts, motifs are placed in three main locations; namely, below the shoulder extending in some cases to below the notch, along the sides of the aperture, and to the anterior of the shell. The distribution has the effect of leaving a plain area in the centre of the shell. The drawing in Figure 10 shows this design layout clearly. Only Imdeduya found at Wawela (Kiriwina) is decorated over most of its surface.

On the Wanigela-found shells, overall decoration is more common than frame decoration. However, shells E12961, E15597, E15598 and Oc1912,+.158 are decorated like those found in the Massim region; they leave the central area plain and have decoration fields below the shoulder, along the sides of the aperture, and at the anterior of the shell

The most common motif on the shells consists of a circle or spiral from which emerge two gradually diverging straight lines, as on Nuratu, the shell shown in Fig. 11 (cf. the drawing on the right in Fig. 9b). Normally two of these motifs are placed along the shell's shoulder with the diverging lines meeting in the centre, as shown in Figure 8b. In some cases the circles are omitted and only the diverging lines meeting in the centre are carved, as on the other shells in Figure 8. The motif also appears in other places on the body whorl of some shells; for example, on the shell in Figure 5d (second drawing from the left) and the shell in Figure 6b (third drawing from the left). Combined with a bird at the end of the diverging lines, the motif is one of the most common in contact-period Massim art. It appears at both ends of kula canoes and, presumably as allusion to canoes, on other types of carvings, such as lime spatulas, canoe paddles and presentation axe hafts. Figure 12 shows it on a canoe component. On a few axe hafts the motif appears by itself; that is, without the bird. Figure 13 shows a prehistoric canoe-end, which has been radiocarbon-dated to 1440-1640 AD (95% probability). The motif on it links the motif on the carved shells with that on contact-period artworks. Massim informants invariably interpret the circle with the diverging lines emerging from it as the head of a fish with open jaws; for example, that of a long-tom, a fish with long jaws, teeth, and a tongue (Beran 1988: 34-5).


Three further motifs which appear on the carved shells once each are also found on contact-period artworks. The drawing of the shell in Fig. 9a (centre) displays a scroll whose two ends curl inwards. Exactly the same scroll appears on wooden bowls from the north coast of the mainland area of the Massim region (Figure 14). The shell in Figure 8a shows a motif which resembles one carved in historic times on many bowls and platters from the southern part of the Massim region. An example is shown in Figure 15. An informant in Misima Island, where many of the platters are carved, told me the motif represents a canoe.

The shell drawn in Figure 4e displays a beautifully carved bird with a long neck and a curl at the end of its tail. Birds are among the most common motifs in contact-period Massim art. The canoe component in Figure 16 displays two birds, a larger one at the top of the prong and a smaller one at the top of the carving. Both have long necks and a curled tail. Informants on Woodlark Island (Murua) told Seligman (1909: 33) that the larger bird on another carving of the same type is a boi, which he translates as reef heron.



Two further motifs on the carved shells have parallels in contact-period artworks but they appear in different form on the latter. The shell in Figure 7c shows four instances of a motif which Swadling speculatively but plausibly interprets as a snail. The snail is still a motif in contact-period Massim art, but now it is represented as concentric circles (Narubutau 1975, Fig. 1; Campbell 2002: 101, 107). On some Trobriand Islands kula canoe washboards a row of the concentric circles is carved as a crescent in the centre of the board (cf. Narubutau 1975, Figs 1, 7, and 11-13; Beran 1980, Fig. 62; Scoditti 1990, Plates 6, 9, 10, 15, 26, 52, and 55). The shell in the central drawing in Figure 4c displays a motif near the (broken) shoulder edge which Seligman and Joyce (1907: 332) interpret as a face. (In the drawing it is shown upside down.) Douglas Newton (1988:20 and Fig. 17), who also illustrates the motif on this shell, speculates that it is a version of a motif which appears on a fragment of Lapita ceramics (Newton 1988, Fig. 3). Face-like motifs also occur in contact-period Massim art; for example, on clapper lime spatulas where they apparently represent a lizard's head (Beran 1988: 27).



Radiocarbon dating of the engraved shells: sampling, dating, and the significance of the results

Pamela Swadling

Four engraved Conus artifacts have now been radiocarbon dated. The first was by Bickler (2006: 48-49), who reports a date of 825-630 calBP/AD 1125-1320 for one which was collected on Woodlark but originated from Budibudi Atoll some 70km to the southeast. This date was obtained from the offcut produced when making the artifact into a kula armshell (mwali). Three more AMS radiocarbon dates for engraved Conus are reported here. Two are on shells collected on Budibudi Atoll and the other is from Rainu. John Friede made the two Budibudi shells available and the de Young Museum of San Francisco funded their dating. The Australian Museum Trust made E15596B available and Edward Aguirre funded its dating.

Out of the twelve Conus shells with curvilinear engraved motifs found at Rainu, E15596B was chosen for dating as alone among them it retains its spire column. This structural feature made it possible to sample the shell without disfiguring the artwork on the outer surface of the artifact. This is fortunate, as none of the other shells could be sampled without fear of disfiguring their artwork.

Shell sampling and restoration of three Conus artifacts

Wal Ambrose

The three sampled artifacts were only made available on the understanding that the artwork would not be impacted and that they would be restored to their original appearance. It was possible to sample the Budibudi artifacts by extracting shell from the interior of the shells where the jagged edges of remnant, inner whorls provided sufficient material for radiocarbon dating. Restoring the extracted material with a replica required moulds to be made of the affected area. A different procedure necessitating a one-piece silicone mould was required for sampling and then restoring the remnant exposed spiral spire of the Wanigela artifact.

Budibudi Atoll

Two Conus shells from Budibudi Atoll with decorated surfaces were presented for sample extraction. The surface of JFB.088.1 was pitted with a marine weathered appearance. In contrast the surface of JFB.088.2 seemed intact. After discussion with Pamela Swadling it was decided to extract the shell sample from the jagged edges of the remnant inner whorls that had been removed in the preparation and manufacture of the engraved artifacts. No decorated surface would be affected by this procedure. The edges removed for dating would need to be replicated in order to restore the appearance of both artifacts.


1. A silicone mould was made of the broken edges of the inner core whorl of each artifact. This first impression would form one half of a two-piece mould needed for the restoration in resin of the sampled shell whorl fragments.


2. A thin diamond dental blade, 25mm in diameter, and mounted on a flexible coupling was used to dry cut the remnant broken whorl edges of each shell. The cutting produced more shell in powder form than a previous experimental extraction from a modern shell. This seemed to indicate that weathering had reduced the proportion of collagen in the two artifact shells compared with the modern specimen. About 10g of mixed shell solid and powder was removed from each Conus artifact.

3. A second silicone mould was made of the diamond cut surface of the inner whorl from where the broken shell fragments were removed for radiocarbon dating.

4. A third silicone mould was made of the second silicone mould surface beating the impression of the cut surface. This third mould presented the same cut surface of the sampled shell and was used as the second half of the two-piece mould mentioned above in procedure 1.

5. Each half of the two-piece mould section was then matched and marked to a correct register in a circular collar from a short section of PVC pipe.

6. Epoxy resin, coloured to approximate the original shell, was run into the first silicone mould. The second silicone mould was then pressed into the epoxy to form a cast matching both the original jagged surface and the exposed cut surface.

7. The cast epoxy piece for each shell was fitted to the vacant sampled section. Some undercut and protruding fractions of each epoxy cast had to be removed by grinding in order to fit the curved sections of the shell. A polyvinyl butyral-ethanol cement was used to attach each cast piece to its appropriate shell surface. The cast pieces could be removed if required with ethanol as a solvent.


In sampling this artifact (EI5596B) it was critical that neither the engraved surface nor the very delicate remnant spiral whorl surrounding the inner spiral spire were damaged. The most accessible section was the shell's remnant protruding spiral spire. In discussion with Pamela Swadling it was decided that the latter should provide the sample, including its delicate spiral septum (Fig. 17).

The restoration of the removed section required a facsimile to be reattached in the same position as the removed sample. The small protruding spire section of the inner whorl represented the fragile early stage in the shell's growth. In order to produce a replacement cast of the targeted section a thin flexible silicone mould was required. A conventional two-piece mould would require masking one half of the spire with a wax 'platform' that would require working around the delicate remnant septum. To avoid possible damage an alternative procedure was adopted as follows.

1. A 1% polyvinyl butyral solution in ethanol was used to coat the shell spire as a resist before the silicone mould was made.

2. A thin (~.5mm) one-piece silicone skin was made by applying three paint-like coatings to the spire. The resulting silicone mould in the form of a rubber glove finger has an inner surface that recorded a precise single-piece impression of the original spiral spire and septum.

3. A rigid outer casing formed in two stages using epoxy resin was cast over the thin silicone skin to maintain its correct shape. Containment for the casting procedure was made from a 20mm diameter polycarbonate vial that was longitudinally sectioned to provide a trough into which the resin could be added while the shell was supported horizontally.

4. The resin half-mould was removed and filed fiat. Several cupules were made in its surface to provide registers for the second matching epoxy mould. The first half of the mould was then refitted into its original position supporting the silicone skin.

5. A second complete polycarbonate vial, reintroduced to the mould setting had a hole made to allow for the injection of epoxy resin that would register with the lower first half to complete the rigid support for the silicone skin.

6. After the resin had set the epoxy support was removed and the silicone skin was pealed from the shell without damaging the flange-like spiral septum. During this process a crack formed across the shell's fragile spire. It was then used as the matching surface for the replacement facsimile. Before this could be done a second silicone impression of the fracture surface of the intact shell core was made. Eventually this minor mould would allow the replacement shell spire, cast in epoxy resin, to be matched to the original crack surface.

7. The coloured replacement components in epoxy resin were matched to the original shape of the removed shell and fixed together with epoxy resin having the same formulation and colour. A 1mm diameter hole was bored about 10mm along the combined replacement to house a steel pin permanently fixed in place with epoxy resin. In order to allow the replacement to be removed, if necessary, the replacement part required adhesion to the Conus spire with a non-permanent adhesive. A ~1.5mm diameter hole was bored into the core to accommodate the removable metal pin already fixed permanently as part of the replacement spire. The larger diameter hole in the Conus shell core was to allow for any slight adjustment between it and the facsimile replacement. An ethanol solvent-based polyvinyl butyral resin was used to finally join the newly made epoxy replacement spiral spire to the Conus shell artifact.

8. Fine adjustment was made to match the joining surfaces with the same solvent-based resin, coloured to match the original shell (Figure 18). This was then left for several days to dry and form a stable bond. If necessary ethanol could be used to remove the newly attached epoxy spire from the artifact.


The final extracted shell spire weighed ~1 g. Although the minimum requirement for AMS dating was 80mg it was necessary to provide sufficient shell for laboratory cleaning and calcium-aragonite analysis to assess shell recrystallisation.


Fiona Petchey

All samples were processed at the Walkato Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory. The shells were acid etched to remove any post-depositional surface contamination and tested for recrystallization of the shell matrix. Radiocarbon results are presented in Table 4 and Figure 19.

To obtain calendar ages for the two Conus sp. artifacts it was necessary to determine the local surface marine [sup.14]C reservoir correction factor, commonly called a [DELTA]R. The marine AR is the difference between the global average modeled marine reservoir [Rg(t)] (e.g. Marine09: Reimer et al. 2009) and the actual [sup.14]C activity of the surface ocean at a particular location [Rs(t)] (Stuiver et al. 1986). This offset can be calculated from marine samples collected from known locations prior to atmospheric bomb testing (~AD 1950), whose age of death is known precisely (e.g. Petchey et al. 2004, 2008).

Ongoing research has indicated that wide shifts in AR are most common where ocean currents meet continental landmasses, opposing currents, or island chains (Petchey et al. 2008). In the southwest tropical Pacific, waters derived from the South Equatorial Current (SEC) flow around the southeast tip of Papua New Guinea and enter the Bismarck Sea through Vitiaz Strait. Further north the northern section of the SEC is broken by the Solomon Islands before entering the Bismarck Sea through the St Georges Channel between New Britain and New Ireland. This dominant current flow is reversed during the winter (June/July) monsoon resulting in considerable turbulence in the channels (Steinberg et al. 2006). Although a number of studies into marine reservoir variation in the Bismarck Sea and Coral Sea region have been undertaken (Chappell and Polach 1976; Edwards et al. 1993; Petchey et al. 2004; McGregor et al. 2008) there is very little reliable [DELTA]R data available, and it is likely that considerable variability is possible in those locations where ocean currents are most turbulent. To monitor possible variation within the Milne Bay Province and achieve as close a [DELTA]R correction as possible for this research we obtained two pre-AD 1950 shells, filter feeders as recommended by Hogg et al. (1998), from museum collections (Table 4). These came from Samarai and Kiriwina (Figure 1).

Conus shell artifacts were calibrated using the Marine09 curve of Reimer et al. (2009) and a pooled [DELTA]R of 40[+ or -]15 [sup.14]C yrs ([[chi square].sub.1:005] = 0.22<3.84) calculated from the pre-AD 1950 shells. All radiocarbon determinations were calibrated using the OxCal program v4.10 (Bronk-Ramsey 2010).


Placing the engraved Conus artifacts in prehistory

Glenn Summerhayes, Simon Bickler, Pamela Swadling and Harry Beran

To understand when the engraved Conus artifacts were produced it is necessary to give a broad-brush view of the deep past of the northern Massim and its links with the New Guinea mainland. Three phases stand out in the northern Massim. In the first two phases (c.1500-1000 BP, c.1000-500 BP) there are strong links between the groups living along the northern part of the eastern tip of New Guinea and the islands of the northern Massim. In the third and final phase (c.500-100 BP) strong trade contact with the New Guinea mainland ceases and is replaced by inter-island trade.

Within the northern Massim the defining features of the first two phases are changes in burial practices, whereas the last is defined by changes in social networks. Each phase gives some insights into the socio-economic changes that have occurred in this region. The Conus artifacts are associated with the middle of these phases.

In Phase 1 burials are placed within megalithic stone structures located within villages. This practice maintained close relationships with the dead. Building these structures required considerable effort and social networking as even in the Trobriand Islands they included stone slabs quarried on Woodlark Island (Austen 1939/40; Egloff 1979: 107; Bickler 2006). The oldest pottery for this phase has been found on Ilamu Island located between Goodenough and Fergusson islands in a site dating from 1520-1320 calBP/AD 430-630 (Vincent Kewibu pers. comm. 2007). This pottery includes pedestal vessels and has distant affinities with Lapita forms.

In Phase 2 social attitudes changed, instead of burying the dead within special structures within the village, bodies were probably buried within villages and their bones were generally subsequently collected and placed away from villages in caves, islets or other locations (Egloff 1979: 107; Bickler 2006; Vere and Young 1980). Within the northern Massim this phase has come to be called the Expansion Phase and dates from c.1000-500 BP/AD 950-1450 (Egloff 1972: 155; 1979; commencement date revised Brian Egloff pers. comm. 2011). It is a period of growth marked by an increase in the number and visibility of archaeological sites. The Expansion Phase is when engraved Conus artifacts were produced. The three finds from Budibudi Atoll are mid-phase as they date from 880-630 calBP/AD 1070-1320, whereas the find from Rainu at 600-455 calBP/AD 1350-1495 dates towards its end. All four artifacts come from the Expansion Phase dating from c.1000-500 BP/c.AD) 950-1450, a period when there were cultural links between the people of Collingwood Bay on the mainland of New Guinea and the islands of the northern Massim, as far east as Budibudi Atoll.

The three Budibudi finds all come from the middle of the Expansion Phase whereas the Rainu artifact dates from the end of this period. The latter date is extremely useful as it suggests that there may have been a stylistic change during the period of their production. The decoration on the three Type 1 (Figure 10) Budibudi artifacts is frame-like in style, whereas the Rainu artifact would have been a complete shell when its overall decoration was engraved. This suggests that complete shells and overall decoration were more in vogue towards the end of the Expansion Phase. The only other engraved complete shells are oddities, perhaps because they were produced during a time of social change. These artifacts are the one with rectilinear designs from Rainu and Imdeduya which has curvilinear designs within a rectangular grid pattern from Wawela on Kiriwina.

Given that engraved Conus artifacts were being produced towards the end of the Expansion Phase it is likely that the engraved offcuts found in Rainu mounds date from the Refuge Phase, that is post c.500 BP. They can best be seen as heirloom artifacts that have been cannibalised for their potential armshells and are probably grave goods associated with burials in the mounds.

The widespread nature of the pottery we now know belonged to the Expansion Phase was first noted by Leo Austen (1939/40) when he noticed similarities between Collingwood Bay prehistoric pottery and potsherd scatters in the Trobriands. This connection was empirically confirmed by Con Key's (1968) petrographic work. Key found that the pottery from mainland Collingwood Bay is made from clay collected from the lower southern slopes of Mt Victory, 61 metres above sea level and about four kilometres from Wanigela area villages on the shore (Key 1968: 653). Brian Egloff (1978) undertook a rudimentary chemical analysis on some Expansion Phase pottery from the Trobriands, and argued that it was manufactured from clays obtained from both New Guinea (Collingwood Bay) and Goodenough Island. This pattern of pottery movement is different from the ethnographic pattern of pottery entering this part of the kula from the Amphlett Islands. On the basis of these results, Egloff (1978) argued for a wider system of exchange than in the ethnographic kula with the basic elements and geographical boundaries of modern kula (including the onset of pottery production in the Amphletts) occurring sometime after AD 1500.

Figure 20 shows that Expansion Phase pottery is distributed from Dyke Ackland Bay, Collingwood Bay, and Goodenough Bay on the mainland, as well as on Goodenough, Nuamata and the Trobriand Islands. The specific similarities are those that Austen first noted in the shape and decoration of this pottery. The pots he saw were globular in shape with everted rims, and had grooved decoration, both linear and curvilinear, the latter including scroll motifs (Lauer 1971:206 after Austen 1939/40). Bowls are also found and some of these have applique spirals (Austen 1939/40: Figure 7 and 8). During this phase on Woodlark Island pottery was not imported but made locally (Bickler 1998: 181).

Egloff did not find engraved Conus artifacts, but he did find Collingwood Bay pottery with curvilinear decorations in his excavations at Wanigela (Brian Egloff pers. comm. 2011). However, both were found in the mounds that were levelled to infill swampy ground at the Wanigela mission station in the first years of the 20th century. Poch (1907a), Seligman and Joyce (1907) and Monckton (1905; 1922) all illustrate this type of pottery as well as engraved Conus shells. Egloff attributes an age of at least 700 years to this type of pottery based on the Wanigela sequence. Its production at Wanigela had ceased by the commencement of the Refuge Phase in c.500 BP (Egloff 1979: 103).

By c.500 BP the social networks extending out of the northern Massim were no longer primarily orientated to the New Guinea mainland (Egloff 1978). Instead in Phase 3 the islands of the northern Massim became part of an increasingly specialised insular trading system. New sources of supply rand social networks emerged within this island word. The Amphlett Islanders now monopolised the supply of pottery to the potting clay deficient Trobriand Islands (Egloff 1978; 1979), whereas prior to c.500 BP this utility had in part been supplied from Collingwood Bay on the mainland. Likewise Tubetube, Wari and Panaeati emerged as trader middlemen in the last 400-500 years (Irwin 1983: 70; Negishi and Ono 2009; 36, 44, 48).

A number of artifacts, including Conus armshells, are traditionally used in social exchanges associated with marriage, death and rights to land in the Massim. Within the Trobriands Conus valuables used in this way are classed as kitoum/kitomu, but as required can be placed in the kula (Berde 1983: 441; Damon 2002: 119; Weiner 1983: 161). Those armshells (mwali) in the kula are ceremonially exchanged for necklaces (soulava).


Malinowski (1922) documents how armshells circulate within the kula in an anti-clockwise direction, whereas necklaces travel in a clockwise direction. The exchange of one item for the other is not a simultaneous transaction, there is a delay, as each has to be sought at the residence of the reciprocator. Figure 20 shows the extent of the kula circuit as recorded by Malinowski in the 1910s. Outside this circuit, in other parts of the Massim as well as up the Papuan coast, armshells and necklaces are also traded. In these areas there is no requirement that one be exchanged for the other (Leach 1983).

Whether the engraved Conus artifacts were exchanged for another specific item, such as necklaces as in the kula, is not known.

Concluding remarks

Pamela Swadling and Harry Beran

Engraved Conus artifacts are signature artifacts of the Expansion Phase, c.1000-500 BP/c.AD 950-1450 (Egloff 1972: 155; 1979; Brian Egloff pers. comm. 2011). The 32 finds reported here show that social networks extended from Collingwood Bay on the New Guinea mainland across the northern Massim to Budibudi Atoll, a distance of some 500km. Previously these prehistoric links had been demonstrated to extend only as far east as the Trobriand Islands with the presence of pottery from Collingwood Bay and Goodenough Island in the Trobriand Islands. The engraved Conus artifacts indicate that these networks extended east as far as Budibudi Atoll. Mainland and Goodenough pottery was not needed there as pottery was produced on Woodlark for local use. The network link with Collingwood Bay lasted until c.500 BP when Massim social networks became more island-oriented.

It is remarkable that 27 of the 32 shells located so far have been found in just two localities; namely, Wanigela and Budibudi. This may be partly due to their preservation in the middens at Rainu in the Wanigela area and under coral-rock mounds in Budibudi. And partly it may be due to the tendency of heirloom objects that go out of 'fashion' to be traded to a peripheral area where they are still valued. It is not known when they were cached under the coral-rock mounds in Budibudi. Very little archaeological work has been done on the New Guinea mainland or in the Massim region. Hence, it is possible that significant numbers of engraved Conus shell artifacts may be found in future in southeast Papua New Guinea.

This study also provides a chronological framework for another representation of curvilinear art in this region, namely the rock carvings of Goodenough Bay (Egloff 1970). In this respect it is probably significant that Expansion Phase potsherds have been found at Boiani in Goodenough Bay (Egloff 1979: 111; Brian Egloff pers. comm. 2011).

The Conus shell artifacts discussed in this essay provide the earliest radiocarbon dated representation of the Massim art style, one of the major art styles of Papua New Guinea. This style was first documented by A.C. Haddon in his book The Decorative Art of British New Guinea (1894) and continues to be produced by Massim woodcarvers. The engravings made on the Conus shells indicate that this curvilinear style has been carved for at least 800 years.


We owe special thanks to John Kasaipwalova, who told us about three engraved shells in the Massim region, Jim Specht, who advised us of the engraved shell in the Horniman Museum and Brian Egloff for his generous comments and advice on dating the Expansion Phase. We are indebted to the following for assisting with the inspection of engraved shells in museums or providing important information: Richard Aldridge, Chris Boylan, Yvonne Carillo, Jack Fenner, Rebecca Fisher, John Friede, G.J. (Fred) Gerrits, Rachel Hand, John Heaton, Christina Hellmich, Vincent Kewibu, Jutta Maluic, Anthony J.P. Meyer, Wayne Modest, Sue O'Connor, Robin Torrence, Peter White and Gabrielle Weiss.


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WA, PS: Archaeology and Natural History, School of Culture, History and Language, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 2600 Australia,;; FP: Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Waikato University, New Zealand, fpetchey@waikato.; HB:; EB: Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra, ACT Australia, elizabeth.; KS: School of earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW, Australia,; SB: Bickler Consultants Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand, ; GS: Anthropology, University of Otago, New Zealand,
Table 1. Wanigela finds. Murin is more likely to be where a villager
who found it at Rainu lived than the find spot of Oc1912,+.158. Other
than 06905,0209.336 the shoulder region of each artifact has been
removed, so width measurements are not given and height measurements
are not as in the original. Previous publication: E12961, Specht
(1988: 19); E15596A, Bellwood (1979, Fig. 9.29), Specht (1988: 19);
Meyer (1995: 450); E15597, White et al. (1970), Tets (1971), Specht
(1988: 19), Meyer (1995: 154); E15598, Specht (1988: 19); 06905,
0209.336, Seligman and Joyce (1907, Plate VIII); 06905,0209.337,
Monckton (1905,1922: opp. 116) and Seligman and Joyce (1907, Plate
VIII); 06905,0209.338, Monckton (1905, 1922: opp. 116), Seligman and
Joyce (1907, Plate VIII), and Newton (1988, Fig. 17, part view); 78712,
Poch (1907a, Abb. 7C and 8).

Source   Collector            Carrent location

Rainu    Percy J. Money       Australian Museum
Rainu    Percy J. Money       Australian Museum
Rainu    Percy J. Money       Australian Museum
Rainu    Percy J. Money       Australian Museum
Ralnu    Percy J. Money       Australian Museum
Rainu    Percy J. Money       Australian Museum
Rainu    C.A. Monckton        British Museum
Rainu    CA. Monckton         British Museum
Rainu    CA. Monckton         British Museum
Murin    Rev. A.K. Chignell   British Museum
Rainu    Rev. A.K. Chignell   Horniman Museum
Rainu    C.G. Seligman        Cambridge Museum
Rainu    R. Poch              Museum fur Vo1kerkunde, Vienna

Source   Cat. No./name    Height cm   Width cm   Fig

Rainu    E12961           9.97                   5d
Rainu    E15595           7.94                   5c
Rainu    E15596A          8.63                   4b
Rainu    EI5596B          9.36                   5g
Ralnu    E15597           10.65                  4e
Rainu    E15598           1156                   5b
Rainu    06905,0209.336   10.0        6.0        5h
Rainu    06905,0209.337   8.5                    5a
Rainu    06905,0209.338   8.5                    4c, 10b
Murin    06912,+.158      12.0                   5e
Rainu    9-75             11.0                   4a
Rainu    1923.80          10.0                   5f
Rainu    78172            9.5                    4d

Table 2. Massim finds. Previous publication: Imdeduva, Malnic with
Kasaipwalova (1998:16); Nuratu, Mackay (1971),  Leach and Leach (1983:
Plate 6), Malnic with Kasaipwalova (1998: 107); Bickler 5, Bickler
(1006: 49).

Location               Collector          Current location

Wawela, Kiriwina       J. Kasaipwalova    unknown
Nuratu Islet, Kitava   --                 in kula since 1970
Lidau, Woodlark                           private coil. Mine Bay
Lidau, Woodlark                           private coil. Milne Bay
Budibudi Atoll         R. Aldridge        Jolika coil., de Young Mus.
Budibudi Atoll         R. Aldridge        Jolika coil., de Young Mus.
Budibudi Atoll         R. Aldridge        Jolika coil., de Young Mus.
Budibudi Atoll         --                 in the kula
Budibudi Atoll         --                 in the kula
Budibudi Atoll         --                 in the kula
Budibudi Atoll         --                 in the kula
Fergusson Is.          R. Aldridge        Harry Beran coil.
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   J. Heaton et al.   private coil.
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   J. Heaton et al.   private coil.
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   J. Heaton et al.   private coil.
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   J. Heaton et al.   private coil.
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   J. Heaton et al.   private coil.
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   J. Heaton et al.   private coil.
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   J. Heaton et al.   private coil.

                                           Height   Width
Location               Cat. NoJname        cm       cm      Fig

Wawela, Kiriwina       Imdeduya            n/a              9c
Nuratu Islet, Kitava   Nuratu              17.5             9b
Lidau, Woodlark        Natasha             n/a
Lidau, Woodlark        Nicola              n/a
Budibudi Atoll         JFB.088.1           16.5     10.3    6a
Budibudi Atoll         JFB.088.2           15.8     8.9     6b
Budibudi Atoll         JFB.0141Bickler 1   15.0     10.5    8a
Budibudi Atoll         Bickler 2           17.6     12.4    8b
Budibudi Atoll         Bickler 3           17.5     10.1    8c
Budibudi Atoll         Bickler 4           17.0     10.2    8d
Budibudi Atoll         Bickler 5           17.5+    11.3    8e
Fergusson Is.          HB 11/53            14.5     9.4     9a
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   Heaton 1            /an/a            7c
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   Heaton 2            12.7             7a
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   Heaton 3            15.5             7b
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   Heaton 4            14.1     8.9     7e
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   Heaton 5            14.8     8.9     7d
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   Heaton 6            n/a
Wabulak Is, Budibudi   Heaton 7            n/a

Table 3. Summary of iconography

                               Presence of    Frame or
                  Incised or   animal head    all-over      Figurative
Shell             low relief   &/or notch     decoration    motif

E12961            ?incised                    frame

E15595            incised                     all-over

E15596A           incised                     all-over      ?face

E15596B           incised                     all-over

E15597            relief                      frame         bird

E15598            incised      animal head    frame

Oc1905,0209.336   incised                     all-over,

Oc1905,0209.337   incised                     all-over

Oc1905,0209.338   incised                     all-over      ?face

Oc1912,+.158      incised                     frame

9-75              incised                     all-over      ?face

1923.80           incised                     ?design

78172             relief                      all-over

Imdeduya          incised                     all-over in

Nuratu            relief       animal head    frame

Natasha           no image

Nicola            no image

JFB.088.1         relief       notch          frame

JFB.088.2         relief       notch and      frame
                               animal heads
                               on body

Bickler 1/        ?relief      notch          frame         canoe

Heaton 1          relief       notch          frame         snails

Heaton 2                       notch          frame

Heaton 3          relief       animal head    frame

Heaton 4          incised      notch          frame

Heaton 5          relief       notch          frame

Heaton 6          no image

Heaton 7          no image

Bickler 2         ?            animal head    frame

Bickler 3         ?            notch          frame

Bickler 4         ?            notch          frame

Bickler 5         ?            notch          frame

HB II/53          relief       animal head    frame

Table 4. Radiocarbon determinations. For calibrated BP and AD ages, the
top line of each specimen is the 68.2%  probability range and the lower
line is 95.4% probability. # FF = filter-feeding bivalve; C = carnivore.
NMNZ = National  Museum of New Zealand; AM = Australian Museum; JFB =
Jolika collection, de Young Museum, San Francisco.
** Armshell still in kula, date is from offcut.

                  Location/date                         [[DELTa].
Lab. No.          of collection       Material#        sup.13]C%o


Wk-25782         Budibudi Atoll     Conus sp. (C)    2.49[+ or -]0.2

Wk-25781         Budibudi Atoll     Conus sp. (C)    2.98[+ or -]0.2

Wk-31234         Wanigela           Conus sp. (C)    3.0[+ or -]0.2
AM: E-15596B     (Rainu)

AA-25130         Woodlark           Conus sp. (C)    4.2
(Bickler 5) **   (Budibudi Atoll)


Wk-26249         Samarai            Barbatia sp.     2.70[+ or -]0.2
(NMNZ 212226)    Nov-38             (FF)

Wk-21066         Kiriwina Island    Pinctada         1.19[+ or -]0.2
(AM: C119161)    Oct 1944           imbricata (FF)
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Article Details
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Author:Ambrose, Wal; Petchey, Fiona; Swadling, Pamela; Beran, Harry; Bonshek, Elizabeth; Szabo, Katherine;
Publication:Archaeology in Oceania
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:8PAPU
Date:Oct 1, 2012
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