The Shell Exchange

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Profile Sign out. What do you need to know before you begin? Estimated time to complete this procedure: less than 1 minute. Tip Having problems? Send feedback about This product This page. However, shells also had multiple symbolic and ritual functions, and were not always alienated from trade partners or the broader social exchange network. Most famously in the Kula exchange network in the Massim of southeast Papua, shell objects would be carried vast distances on costly interisland expeditions to maintain delayed reciprocal obligations Malinowski ; Munn The exchange valuables themselves would be inalienable from their previous owners and their life history, while the temporary owners of the objects would increase their social standing through successful exchanges.

At ethnographic contact in the s, New Guinea Highlands economies similarly relied on delayed reciprocity, involving casual gifting and market trade, punctuated by important ceremonial exchanges that shifted objects over considerable distances from their place of manufacture Brown Anthropologists have long noted the centrality of marine shell valuables in these exchanges A.

Strathern In some places, these shells took on a role similar to money, which helped to maintain the smooth transfer of more utilitarian goods, such as axes and pigs, between valley systems Sillitoe From the diverse assortment of shells found around the coast, only a select few were commonly imported into the Highlands and used in exchange Figure 2. The most common included cowrie Cypraeidae spp. In these competitive gift ceremonies, large numbers of live pigs would be killed and distributed to other groups, with the expectation of delayed reciprocity of greater value in the form of shells, pigs, or other objects.

In this network, gifts would travel along established linkages of clans and individuals, pooling together in semiregular ceremonies. Hughes , points out that shell valuables are key material evidence for tracing the history of Highlands societies. Strathern , ; Wagner , ; Weiner In various places, shell valuables were protected against depreciation by this symbolic and aesthetic meaning Breton ; Sillitoe Europeans substantially altered the nature of Highlands exchange and the value of shell objects by flooding the market in the s and s Hughes Kiaps colonial patrol officers would distribute thousands of shells as money in exchange for pigs, crops, and labor, sidestepping many of the social rules regulating who handled shell valuables and how status ought to be acquired.

Hence, many of the observations by early ethnographers are almost certainly modern reconfigurations of precolonial exchange as the networks readjusted to this influx of prestige wealth, so they need to be understood from a historical perspective. At initial European contact, marine shells were much rarer items Bus ; Gitlow These shells reached the Jimi and Wahgi from the Simbai Valley, traveling up ancient trade routes.

These shells could then be used as a durable and portable commodity for exchange, control, and surplus. Thus, a once impermanent system of stratification was made more durable Feil Chimbu, the area in which the Kiowa site lies, was the end point of many trade routes at ethnographic contact, and, as such, the Chimbu people highly valued shells for prestige and exchange due to their scarcity Bergmann ; Brown ; , 16; , As valuables, shells were used as adornments on men's, women's, and children's clothing Bergmann , v.

When the Leahy expedition passed through the area, the Chimbu desire for shell valuables was so great that it caused conflicts between the locals and their visitors Brown , 26 , as shells, in particular, along with axes, money, pigs, and feathers, could be used for bride prices by young men Moreover, the bugla gende pig ceremony, similar to moka and tee ceremonies further west, involved material displays of wealth and power, with people wearing shell valuables and other finery as a matter of pride for the clan These shells were therefore essential to maintaining and modifying power relationships between groups and individuals.

As in other areas, kiaps in the s and s introduced copious shell valuables from the coast that flooded the local economy Therefore, it is important to avoid projecting modern observations about shell exchange, and their behavioral and social implications, into the deep past.

Here, Cypraea moneta was found in Horizon VII, dated by association to between 6, and 10, years ago. A tentatively assigned marine gastropod was also found in Horizon IX, but it is unclear if this can be assigned a similar or earlier date. A small cowrie shell was also recovered from the lowest level of a test pit excavated by Cole at Kafiavana Huff a , 43 , which has been suggested to be, very tenuously by association with Peter White's excavations, around 10, years old At nearby Batari, however, shell is only present from around 3, years ago.

Riverine shell is also present from the Late Holocene in Horizon III, with increasing numbers leading into the last millennium, identified as Hyridella guppyi aipiana , Thiaridae, and Neritidae. One freshwater Nerite from Horizon II, dating to anytime between about and 3, years ago, had been perforated with a hole drilled in the back At Aibura, occupied 4, years ago, and later reoccupied years ago, unworked marine shell only occurs from the recent reoccupation, alongside pottery and pig bone White Marine species include Trochus niloticus , Cypraea annulus , Ovula ovum , Nassarius thersites , Charonia tritonis , Oliva sp.

Riverine mussel is present from Level 6, halfway down the deposit, with one shell being drilled. These artifacts were probably used as vegetal scrapers and preconfigure the import of marine shells. Cypraea annulus , Oliva carneola , and Nassarius spp. Freshwater mussel and possible oyster were also found in Levels 2—3 dating to a similar time.

In Chimbu province, Nombe rockshelter lies only 2. This site contained a range of marine shell in Stratum A dating to the last 5, years, including cowrie C. In Stratum B, dating from about 5, to 10, years ago, only very fragmentary pearl oyster was present, and there is no evidence for marine shell in Stratum C or D dating to the Pleistocene.

The final Highlands site with evidence for marine shell, and the subject of this article, is Kiowa. Elimbari, about twenty meters away from a small tributary to the Mai River in Chimbu Province. It was excavated in by Susan Bulmer and dates from the terminal Pleistocene c. The deposit was excavated in five major areas to 4. The stratigraphy comprised interleaved orange clays and ashy soils Figure 3 , and radiocarbon dating on wood charcoal provides a robust chronology for change through time at the site Denham Here, a lithic assemblage replete with local argillite raw material is thought to reflect increasing intensity of site use and landscape learning throughout the Holocene Gaffney, Ford, and Summerhayes Nonetheless, the faunal assemblage is extensive and contains a number of small marsupial mammal species, thought to imply specialized bat hunting around the caves and rockshelters of Elimbari, supplemented by the hunting of cuscus, ringtail possum, macropods, bandicoot, and rodents around forests and grasslands.

To describe change through time in the use of shells at the Kiowa site, taxonomic and technological analysis is presented here. For this article, all pieces were identified using reference specimens at the University of Wollongong Zooarchaeology Laboratory and available literature following key features and general morphology. Interpretations were informed by the prior experience of KS as well as the results of previous experimental working.

How do I make a shell plate exchange?

This expands and replaces summary information originally presented by the site excavator Bulmer and Bulmer A total of six freshwater mussel fragments from four individual valves were recovered from Kiowa Figure 4. The fragments from Area EE represent the oldest molluscan remains found within the Kiowa sequence as Level 7 specimens are associated with a calibrated date of 9, to 10, cal.

BP, and the Level 5 fragment is associated with a date of between 6, and 6, cal. BP at two sigma.

This diversity is lower than other parts of the world and is probably influenced by both the aridity of Australia and the underrepresentation of New Guinea taxa McMichael and Hiscock , Taxonomic identification of freshwater bivalves can be confused by phenotypic diversity which results in plastic morphology and other factors, such as water speed and substrate.

None of the fragments recovered from Kiowa contained the diagnostic hinge section of the valve, and, as such, firm species identification is extremely difficult. All fragments, however, appear to derive from the same species. A number of species can be ruled out instantly based on general morphological features or geographical ranges that do not match H. From the fragments present at Kiowa, morphological matches include H.

The Hermit Crab Shell Exchange

This distribution seems to be confirmed by Walker, Jones, and Klunzinger Although it is possible for freshwater mussel to be recycled for ornament manufacture, none of the fragments show signs of deliberate modification or working, and they have probably been introduced to the Kiowa deposits as food refuse rather than as formal artifacts. Similar freshwater mussel fragments have been identified in Early Late Holocene deposits at Nombe Mountain , and at Aibura, Batari, and Kafiavana throughout the Holocene White However, those specimens were only identified to the family level, Hyriidae, which is the only family that occurs in the region.

The remaining five specimens were of marine or possibly estuarine origins. The high placement in the sequence suggests a relatively recent date, probably around BP and likely no earlier than 1, BP. Although not extensively ground, and having an outer perimeter that is virtually raw, microscopic examination makes clear that the ring was extensively used, as evidenced by rounding and polish of the surfaces Figure 5.

The ring is robust and has an estimated internal diameter of seven centimeters. Two fragments of Polymesoda cf.


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Both pieces have very rounded valve margins, extensive zones of polish at the margin, and numerous clear bands of striations running parallel to the margin set just back from the valve edge. On the valve deriving from Level 2, East Extension EE Figure 6 b , the striations and most wear and polish are located on the inner valve surface. The specimen from Level 2 SE Figure 6 a also displays extensive wear across the outer surface of the valve fragment.

Much of the natural relief has been worn away and has been replaced by a high polish. The lack of faceting suggests that this surface was soft rather than resistant. A small right valve, from Level 2, East Baulk EB , displays clear and extensive wear across the elevated ribs of the whole valve surface Figure 7 a.

Counterion Exchange in Peptide-Complexed Core-Shell Microgels.

This wear is slightly more pronounced toward the posterior. This suggests that different zones of the margin were used for different tasks. There is a hewn hole at the umbo, which shows use wear from stringing. The second example from Level 2, SE, is broken in half with break surfaces being recent.

The wear patterns on the body of the valve match the EB specimen; however, the wear is not as extensive and there is little detectable wear at the ventral margin. This specimen also has a hewn hole at the umbo with use wear from stringing. In this way, subregional variation was likely present in subsistence technology, mobility, and exchange networks.

Although the evidence is fragmentary, we can use the Kiowa data to build on existing narratives that describe precolonial trade networks between the coast and the Highlands: their locations, directions, and timings. From this, we can later ask: Why did marine shells enter into the Highlands economies at all?

Why did they take hold at different times? We are committed to sharing past, present, and future works that reflect the special strengths of the University of Arizona and support its land-grant mission. Nelson Author. A synthetic treatment of shell exchange among Hohokam groups utilizing excavated and private collections. The author also provides details of shell identification.