Mary-Louise Lambert


Fishhooks are one of the most important artefact classes in East Polynesian archaeological sites with stylistic traits used for building chronologies, demonstrating linkages between island communities, inferring marine foraging strategies, and understanding target prey. Owing to a limited distribution of local pearl shell, terrestrial mammal bone was primarily used for bone fishhook manufacture in the Hawaiian Islands. By identifying the species of bone used in fishhook manufacture we can gain insight into raw material selection, access to ethnographically attested high status goods such as pig, and the extent to which human bone was used. Because raw materials and fishhooks were extensively worked during production, it is not usually possible to taxonomically identify manufacturing detritus and finished fishhooks using morphological characteristics. Additionally, raw material size alone is not a reliable indication of species. Here we use collagen peptide mass fingerprinting, known as Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry (ZooMS), to identify the species used for bone fishhook manufacture from late prehistoric (post AD 1500) sites on Moloka‘i, Hawaiian Islands. The species identification of Hawaiian fishhook manufacturing debris and finished hooks are the first unequivocal identifications of raw material by ZooMS confirming the use of pig, dog, and human bones, with a preference for pig bone. While utilitarian explanations for raw material selection can be inferred, considering differences in the width and thickness of elements between species, the use of human bone and pig bone suggests a ritual function as well.

About the presenter

Mary is a current PhD Candidate at UQ looking at fauna recovered from shell middens in the Macleay Valley, northern New South Wales. She completed her honours in 2021 analysing Hawaiian bone fishhooks using zooarchaeology by mass spectrometry (ZooMS), also at UQ. Mary has field experience both in Australia and Hawaii and also works in consulting undertaking jobs across Queensland and New South Wales. 





About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.