Tattooing tools and the Lapita cultural complex

Robin Torrence, Nina Kononenko, Peter J Sheppard, Melinda S Allen, Stuart Bedford, Patrick Kirch, Matthew Spriggs

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    A use-wear and residue study of 56 retouched obsidian flakes from seven Lapita sites in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu confirms that they had been used for tattooing. These specialised tools all bear one or more very small points formed by alternating retouch. A detailed comparison of use traces and pigments on these and 19 additional skin piercing tools analysed previously challenges the notion of homogeneity in cultural practices across the broad geographical range where Lapita pottery was used. The existence of shared innovations together with variation in the selection of pigments and the shape of the obsidian artefacts used for puncturing skin highlight a complex pattern of similarities and differences within this community of culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)58-73pp
    JournalArchaeology in Oceania
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018


    Dive into the research topics of 'Tattooing tools and the Lapita cultural complex'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this