Canterbury Museum


Yann-Pierre Montelle

Canterbury Museum Research Fellow

Yann-Pierre Montelle

During his time at Canterbury Museum Yann-Pierre has undertaken a series of projects.

He started with the task of taxonomizing and provenancing the Museum’s collection of Upper Palaeolithic stone tools, including a few specimens of Acheulean tools from the celebrated collections of Boucher de Perthes.

His next project was to identify and analyse the ochreous material (iron oxide) in the Museum’s collection and the artefacts associated with the manufacture of kokowai. This analysis is a work-in-progress and awaits further testing using more sophisticated spectroscopy. The results however have already established one important point: at this stage, it is not possible to determine the provenance of a lump of kokowai.

Yann-Pierre Montelle

Yann-Pierre has also undertaken a series of experimental archaeological reconstruction based on traceology of the rehu (flutes) and the ngira (needles) in the collection. He presented his work on the needles to a group of weavers in the South Island. The process of reconstructing a tool by way of analysing the sequence of modifications and manufacture is an interesting approach to artefacts and one that brings the researcher very close to the tool-makers. Currently, Yann-Pierre is working on reconstructing the processes of manufacture for the drills, fish hooks, and bird spears in the Museum’s extensive collection.

Yann-Pierre has also been involved with investigating bird material in cave environments and collecting samples for the genomic completion of many extinct species in New Zealand. He says that a highlight was to find a complete kiwi skull stuck in the sternum of a kakapo.