Ellen, Roy F.
Distribution and variation in sago extraction equipment: convergent and secondary technologies in island southeast Asia.
Archaeology in Oceania,
ISSN 0003-8121 .
(Full text available)
It is argued, following Francois Sigaut, that the way elements of technology are invented, borrowed and re-combined challenges the notion of 'technical lineage'. with its implication of 'successive orderly accretions'. The contention is examined in relation to pith removal equipment used in palm starch extraction in island southeast Asia and Melanesia, which is considered additionally instructive because it yields some potential archaeological traces. The key archaeotypes - pounding and rasping tools - reflect convergent and secondary technologies that most likely were adapted to sago processing from other cultural domains. Pounders are found mainly in the eastern part of the geographic range, and rasps in the west. There is much variability in the distribution of types, even within a small area. Inferences are drawn relating to recent changes (for example, from stone to metal working edges, and from pounders to rasps), and concerning what we can learn from the distribution of different kinds of tool, including the likelihood of versions of the same tool co-existing in the same place, or being independently invented at opposite ends of the archipelago.
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