Worked bone and teeth from Orokolo Bay in the Papuan Gulf (Papua New Guinea)

Adriana Basiaco, Chris Urwin, Tiina Manne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnographic records show that people from Orokolo Bay in the Papuan Gulf (Papua New Guinea) made, used, and exchanged artefacts made from bone and teeth during the twentieth century. Archaeologically, these kinds of artefacts are poorly documented, partly because osseous materials tend to decay rapidly in exposed tropical rainforest sites. Where these artefacts have been found in the Papuan Gulf, only a few have been reported in detail. Here we contribute detailed analyses of eight osseous artefacts from the past village site of Popo which date to within the period 770–220 cal BP. We describe a modified shark tooth, a drilled or pierced dog tooth ornament, several bone points, and a trapezoidal section of modified bone. An ochred bone point shows that people applied pigment to material culture in the period 540–285 cal BP; the item is the only known archaeological evidence for pigment use on bone in the Papuan Gulf. Our analyses provide a starting point for historicising the use of osseous artefacts in this part of the Papuan Gulf.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-237
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Archaeology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Osseous artefacts
  • Use-wear
  • Papuan Gulf
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Pacific
  • Holocene
  • Ochre
  • Bone artefacts

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