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The antiquity of pearl shell (Pinctada sp.) burial artifacts in Palau, western Micronesia.

Scott Malthus Fitzpatrick, Jenna E Boyle


Pearl shell was an important and highly valued resource for producing tools and ornaments in Oceania. One pearl shell artifact type that is quite rare in Micronesia, however, is the crescent-shaped scraper/grater. These artifacts have recently been found in 2 burial caves in Palau, Western Caroline Islands, suggesting they may have played important social and symbolic roles in society. The first direct accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating of this tool type, found in association with in-situ female burial at the Chelechol ra Orrak site, provides a date of AD 150-270, while associated dates range from 770 BC-AD 180. These dates help contextualize human burials and associated artifacts from one of the earliest and most diverse burial sites in Austronesia.


Caroline Islands;Micronesia;Palau;Pinctada;lithostratigraphy;Oceania;artifacts;accelerator mass spectra;mass spectra;spectra;archaeology;Holocene;upper Holocene;Cenozoic;Quaternary;C 14;carbon;isotopes;radioactive isotopes;shells;Invertebrata;Mollusca;absolute age

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