Abstract

This paper summarizes current research into flaked stone assemblages from the Republic of Palau, Micronesia. We review archaeological analyses of Palau’s flaked stone artifacts, examine ethnohistorical sources for descriptions and potential uses of lithic tools, and present the results of a recent microscopic use-wear and residue study of twenty flaked stone artifacts. We find that while a lithic technology based on bipolar reduction had emerged by at least the beginning of the first millennium b.c. , the archaeological and ethnohistorical records demonstrate the relative obscurity of stone tool use in the final stages of prehistory. The artifacts analyzed for residues are associated with radiocarbon dates ranging from ca. 1120 b.c .–a.d . 1640, with the majority recovered from inland earthwork and village complexes radiocarbon dated to approximately two thousand years ago. Residue evidence for wood and bone/skin working is discussed in terms of past social activities and changes in settlement patterns, and in light of the perceived dominance of shell as a tool material on Palau. The potential for soil fungi to influence the interpretation of artifact residues is also considered. The study emphasizes the unique position of residue analyses in contributing to studies of artifact function in the Pacific, and suggests future directions for flaked-stone research on Palau.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-8283
Print ISSN
0066-8435
Pages
pp. 405-428
Launched on MUSE
2009-01-23
Open Access
No
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