The ones that come ready made: The identification and use of Sus tusks as tools at prehistoric cave sites in Malaysia

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    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Evidence for osseous technologies has featured in excavation reports from Southeast Asia for almost a century and from archaeological deposits as old as 43,000 years BP. However, in contrast to the significance that is placed on this technology in other parts of the world, until recently, Southeast Asian assemblages have drawn only very limited attention. Concentrating on evidence from Malaysia, the current paper examines one element of this inventory of tools: the deliberate modification of pig canines and the means by which such alteration can be distinguished from patterns of natural tooth wear. Particular attention is paid to the bearded pig (Sus barbatus), as it is one of the two species of wild boar in Malaysia whose tusks are most likely to have been used by prehistoric toolmakers. Reference is also made to wider, regional ethnographic examples of known tusk implements and their accredited uses to further assist in the identification process. Distinguishing criteria for worked tusk are formulated according to the type and extent of modification. These criteria are then applied to archaeological specimens recovered from two prehistoric cave sites in Malaysia, Gua Bintong and Niah Cave.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)131-143
    Number of pages13
    JournalArchaeofauna
    Volume13
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

    Keywords

    • Natural wear
    • Pig tusks
    • Southeast Asia
    • Tusk-tools

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Animal Science and Zoology
    • Archaeology
    • Archaeology

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