Obsidian tools with a stem or tang attached to a blade and known as matā have been recovered from a broad range of archaeological contexts on Rapa Nui. Their highly variable morphology suggests that this class of artifact had multiple, but too few analyses of their use-wear have been conducted to be confident about the relationships between form and use. A sample of 22 matā from sealed archaeological deposits in a cave on the southern coast of Rapa Nui and ranging in age from ca. A.D. 1300–1800 were analyzed using high power magnification. The patterns of use-wear scarring, striations, polishes, and residues demonstrate that the tools were all hafted and were used in a broad range of activities including fish processing and the manufacture and/or decoration of wooden, bone, and shell artifacts. The results demonstrate the importance of additional comprehensive use-wear and residue studies for understanding the multiple roles of matā within ancient Rapa Nui society.


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pp. 58-106
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