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Artifact Recovery

After a long break from the work at the ATIAHARA site, I find myself back in the thick of the potato planting season with many newly tilled fields to explore. The weather has been nearly perfect for a fossicker while near disaster for the planters, torrential rains over the past month have turned the fields into muddy bogs and exposed a wealth of ancient artifacts. This year I have had the good fortune to have been able to search many important fields numerous times, as each time the fields were turned heavy rains closely followed. Normally I wouldn't expect to find much in these fields which I have already thoroughly fossicked in previous years however with so much rain I now still manage to find incredible treasures.

Whale Tooth Pendant

Perhaps the most exciting find so far this year is the discovery of a Whale tooth shaped pendant, it was found at ATIAHARA # 6 about 75 meters from the present shoreline where there is an important deposit of blackened sand and midden. The pendant was found in the shoreward part of the deposit where the sand is grayer and there is visibly less midden. In as much as I have recovered a wide variety of artifacts from this midden generally I think it may have been an area that has been occupied over a very long period of time. In terms of stone tools certainly we find some very early forms as well as those which extend on up to the contact period. As a final comment as to the findspot of this artifact it is important to note that it was found about 50 meters east of the remains of the Marae TONOHAE, traditionally one of the islands most important landmarks.

In as much as this artifact appears to be an important component of the Early Eastern Polynesian cultural assemblage, it seemed likely that it should be found here in Tubuai where we have now gathered so many artifacts which can be directly attributed to the EEP. Considering however that it is but a single example amongst several thousand artifacts collected over many years of extensive fossicking, to describe it as rare would be an understatement.

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