Sequins from the sea: Nautilus shell bead technology at Makpan, Alor Island, Indonesia

Michelle Langley, Shimona Kealy, M Mahirta, Susan O'Connor

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    One defining characteristic of Homo sapiens is the production and use of personal ornamentation. Evidence from Africa and western Eurasia has dominated discussion, but a growing number of finds directs attention towards Island Southeast Asia. In this article, the authors report on an assemblage of Nautilus shell beads from the Indonesian cave site of Makpan, Alor Island. The highly standardised forms, mostly with two perforations, and evidence of use wear, indicate that these beads were utilised as appliqués. Dating to the terminal Pleistocene, these beads appear to form part of a wider tradition also attested on Timor and Kisar, suggesting an early inter-island network across southern Wallacea.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)810-828
    Issue number394
    Publication statusPublished - 2023

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