Agarabi pottery production in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

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    The only pottery known to have been produced in the New Guinea Highlands is associated with communities speaking Agarabi, a non-Austronesian language in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. This paper provides a comprehensive summary of Agarabi pottery forms and production processes, combining published sources with previously unpublished records, notes, sketches and photographs from ethnoarchaeological fieldwork amongst Agarabi speakers in the Kainantu District in 1987. Agarabi vessels are characterised by their ovoid elongated shape with gently pointed bases and out-curving rims. Decoration, where it is present, occurs on the rims and / or around the neck and consists of incisions or punctate impressions, often from multi-toothed combs. These characteristics clearly distinguish Agarabi ware from pottery produced in communities speaking Austronesian languages in the neighbouring Upper Markham and Middle Ramu valleys. The multi-faceted description of Agarabi pottery production presented here provides a foundation for further enquiry into the cultural processes and historical trajectories that have shaped this unique Highlands ceramic ware.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


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