I came across some interesting news regarding the The Solomon Islands National Museum (SINM) in Honiara, Solomon Islands. SINM is proposing a special exhibition for materials excavated from a site at Apunirereha, East Are’Are in Malaita Province. These materials were excavated under an archaeological cooperation project between the Solomon Islands National Museum and the Commission for Archaeology of Non-European Cultures of the German Archaeological Institute which started in 2012 at Apunirereha.
The SINM and the German Archaeological Institute said the aim of this research project is to enlighten the prehistory and understanding of human migration and initial settlement of the Solomon Islands. The project will not only contribute to the knowledge of the prehistory of the Solomon Islands, but it will help the public and local communities become more aware and sensitive to their national heritage.
According to SINM Head of Archaeology Unit, Lawrence Kiko, and German Archaeological Institute team leader, Dr. Johannes Moser, the selection of East Are’Are to be the first focal point for the research came about after they heard from a certain individual that East Are’Are has sources of lithic (stone tools and artifacts). The excavation revealed a huge amount of lithic products in all stages of ancient manufacturing process and the stone tools were widely used by native in former time in the area. “The high possibly for internal trade from the resource to other islands can be possible,” Dr. Moser said.
A further archaeological excavation was also done in Ria cave in the vicinity of Apunirereha.The site is a rock shelter that is formed by an isolated natural limestone cliff and can serve as shelter for one or two families.The archaeological potential of the rock shelter was suspected during a survey in the region in 2011 and finally confirmed through a first test sounding in 2013. Ria rock shelter is very interesting because it shows evidences of human existence in prehistoric times.
Upon permission granted by tribal chiefs, a small amount of stone artifacts was brought to the National Museum in Honiara for stone tool use wear analysis. Sonja Tomasso, a specialist from TraceoLab at the University of Liège in Belgium, is currently at the SINM to analyse how the stone tools were used. According to Tomasso, the goal of a use wear study is to understand the function of tools in cross-examination with the activities on the site.
Kiko was delighted for the opportunity the project provided in training his archaeology museum staff to equip them with new skills in the area of field and laboratory analysis of archaeology materials. He added that the stone tool analysis as far as he remembered was the first to be done locally at the museum and it gave his museum archaeology staff the opportunity to have a taste on stone tool use ware analysis.
The excavation is still in progress and the team is optimistic that a deeper layer will provide much earliest dating. Kiko said at the end of the project in East Are’Are, the SINM will propose to host a special exhibition for the excavated materials. Additionally, SINM wants a mini cultural center to be built for the people to display the materials and for safe storage in the village.