Importance of source availability and accessibility: a case study from Papua New Guinea

Part of : Mediterranean archaeology & archaeometry : international journal ; Vol.4, No.2, 2004, pages 53-65

Section Title:
The study of ancient trade and exchange would benefit from detailed analyses conducted at thelevel of the individual obsidian exposures. A useful method is to evaluate the null hypothesis thatall potential sources were equally favourable to those who exploited, exchanged, and used theobsidian. Before deviations from the null hypothesis can be inferred as social behaviour, thephysical characteristics of the obsidian exposures and their history in time and space should bestudied. These points are illustrated by a case study from Papua New Guinea where volcanicactivity during the time of occupation radically altered the availability and accessibility of obsidiansources. Having accounted for environmental factors, changes in the abundance of obsidian fromvarious chemical groups is interpreted in terms of a highly flexible system of exchange that mayhave been adopted to help cope with the high risks created by volcanic activity.
Subject (LC):
Trade, Papua, New Guinea, Obsidin, Geology