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Based on a use-wear and residue analysis of a collection of 12 mata‘a in the Australian Museum, Sydney, we question the value of relying on tool shape as an adequate indication of past use. Although the tools in this collection were used for a broad range of tasks, including plant processing, wood, shell and bone working, and cutting and piercing of flesh or skin, some may have been used in interpersonal conflict. The study illustrates the value of museum ethnographic collections for understanding past tool use.
Rapa Nui, mata‘a, use-wear, residue