Petrographic analyses of sand temper/inclusions in ceramics of Kikiniu, Kikori River and modern sand samples from the Gulf Province (Papua New Guinea)

Kathleen M. Marsaglia, Kimberly G. Kramer, Bruno David, Robert J. Skelly

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The archaeological site of Kikiniu (a.k.a. Kulupuari) in the mid-reaches of the Kikori River, Gulf Province (Papua New Guinea) contains a rich assemblage of ceramic sherds dating to 1550–1000 calBP. This is a region for which there is no ethnographic and no prior archaeological evidence of ceramic manufacture, but for which during the ethnographic period premade pottery vessels are well known to have been imported en masse from long-distance seafarers from Yule Island and Port Moresby. Here we present initial petrographic analyses of sand temper/inclusions from 20 excavated sherds from Kikiniu, and 14 samples of modern beach and river sand collected across the area, to determine whether the Kikiniu ceramics could have been locally manufactured, and if not, from where they were imported. Our preliminary results confirm that the majority of the sherds, and possibly all, are from ceramics that were probably imported from manufacturing sites to the south-east. Given that the Kikiniu region was then a rainforest, sago-rich region, ceramics probably arrived at Kikiniu as part of the sago trade as far back as c.1550–1000 calBP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-140
Number of pages10
JournalArchaeology in Oceania
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Clés: Nouvelle Guinée
  • dégraissant
  • New Guinea
  • petrographie
  • petrography
  • poterie
  • pottery
  • sago
  • sagou
  • temper

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