ATIAHARA - Showcase 2007

The ATIAHARA deposits yield a vast array of Early East Polynesian Artifacts

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This unusual complete large pearl-shell fishhook with a sharp angular bend and acute recurved point appears to be very rare, without any comparable example elsewhere.

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Pearl-shell harpoons

Three small harpoon points were recovered these are only about 15 mm long. This makes a total of 5 complete examples from ATIAHARA all are very similar with the exception of the largest which has a groove around the base.

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Trolling lure point

Early in the first week of excavating this magnificent trolling lure point was recovered from the lowest layer of square L12. This rocker type example is not alone in the ATIAHARA collection

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Tattooing needles, (a) bone, (b) bone needle fragment, (c) small bone needle blank, (d) small pearl-shell tattooing needle.

Bone and pearl-shell tattooing needles from the ATIAHARA 2007 excavations, these interesting specimens compliment well the rest of the collection. For another example that compares well with item (a) click here as well as here for a description of the findspot. To see more blanks that show a close relation with item (c) click here.

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Drilled tooth pendants

Perhaps one of the most significant finds this year are these drilled teeth. These artifacts must be considered an important part of the Early East Polynesian ornaments, examples are often made from whale or porpoise teeth, however human and dog teeth have also been used (see Duff 1956, Plate 23 for Wairau examples, Furey 2002 Figures 46-55 for North Island (Houhora) and Sinoto, 1966 Figure 4b, Suggs 1961 Fig. 36, and Rolett 1998 Fig 9.6 for Marquesan examples)

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Perforated pearl-shell disk

This serrated disk is smaller than the disk found in the 1999 excavations, however it follows closely the larger model.

small reel orniment
Reel ornament

This very small and delicately made ornament is of an unusual shape and may be of great importance.

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Whale tooth pendants

Whale tooth pendants are perhaps the single most representative artifact of the Early East Polynesian assemblage, examples abound in published material dealing with the archaic New Zealand sites. The New Zealand examples present a wide range of stylistic variation in their form and size, thus the form of these Tubuai examples are of great interest. A comparative study of these artifacts may reveal the earliest 'type' models which then can be tracked down and dispersal patterns envisioned. Within these three ATIAHARA examples we can observe some important New Zealand parallels. Example (c) was not recognized until it was washed during the sorting and is perhaps more of a treasure than it appears. We see that it is actually a piece of worked bone that is in the early fabrication stage of becoming a whale tooth pendant. In Roger Duff's 1956 publication entitled THE MOA-HUNTER PERIOD OF MAORI CULTURE, we find a highly interesting diagram, Fig. 25. Manufacture of 'Whale-tooth' units (see below). In this diagram which details the manufacture of imitation whale tooth pendants in Moa bone, we can see that the ATIAHARA example (c) matches closely the New Zealand pattern of manufacture. As yet the type of bone used for the ATIAHARA example has not been identified, however the unusual striations found on the inside of this bone may lead to it's identification.

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Could this be Moa bone?

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