A history of the world through 100 objects: bird-shaped pestle

In this series, Anna Seaman highlights an item on display at the 100 Objects exhibition at Manarat al Saadiyat that runs until August 1. This week: bird-shaped pestle.
Bird-shaped Pestle, stone, 6000–2000 BC, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea. Courtesy Trustees of the British Museum
Bird-shaped Pestle, stone, 6000–2000 BC, Oro Province, Papua New Guinea. Courtesy Trustees of the British Museum

Early farmers in Papua New Guinea used this bird-shaped pestle to grind the vegetable taro in a mortar. It is about 9,000 years old. Papua New Guinea was one of seven locations where farming developed after the last Ice Age.

“This shows that humans had a competitive advantage over animals because we prepared food before we ate it,” says Becky Allen, the show’s curator.

However, this particular item also shows a sophistication because the pestle’s long neck meant it was too delicate to be used regularly and its bird shape suggests it may have been used for pounding food on special occasions.

aseaman@thenational.ae

Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM

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