Australian Museum Research Associate Dr Nina Kononenko has been awarded the John Mulvaney Book Award for the Best Archaeological Book of 2012. The book titled, Experimental and Archaeological Studies of Use-wear and Residues on Obsidian Artefacts from Papua New Guinea is a technical report published by the Australian Museum. It details use-wear analysis of artefacts conducted at the Australian Museum Archaeology Laboratory.

The John Mulvaney Book Award was established by the Australian Archaeological Association (AAA) in 2004 to recognise significant contributions to Australian Archaeology. This is the third time that an Australian Museum researcher has been awarded the prize.

In 2008 another Australian Museum Research Associate, Peter Hiscock, received the nod for his book, The Archaeology of Ancient Australia and in 2004 Val Attenbrow, then a Senior Principal Research Scientist at the Museum, received the prize for her book Sydney’s Aboriginal Past.

In 2012 it was Nina Kononenko’s turn to take out the prestigious award for her work conducting use-wear analysis on obsidian tools.

For the uninitiated, use-wear analysis involves determining the function of artefact tools by closely examining their working surfaces and edges. Researchers use microscopes to examine artefacts and may also conduct experiments making replica tools and undertaking a variety of activities with them, then comparing these to the artefact tools.

Dr Kononenko’s book documents the results of an extensive series of experiments that are the basis for analysis of obsidian artefacts from a Holocene site on Garua Island in West New Britain, PNG. At the award ceremony, The AAA acknowledged that Dr Kononenko’s book would be an ‘essential source for scholars working all over the world’. It is not only the AAA lauding Kononenko’s book as a significant contribution.

In his review of the book, one of the world’s foremost proponents of use-wear analysis, George Odell said, “Nina Kononenko has produced one of the most thoughtful and thoroughly researched lithic use-wear studies of the past 20 years… This project has brought functional analysis to a new level, and has provided a strong basis of future functional inferences.’