Boomerangs and stone tools – Eva Martellotta

Boomerangs and stone tools – Eva Martellotta

Archaeologist Eva Francesca Martellotta has been investigating the use of hardwood boomerangs to modify the edges of stone tools. When using stone tools, the cutting edge sometimes needs  to be sharpened depending on the function of the tool itself. Ms Martellotta  carried out an analysis of ethnographic reports over the past 170 years, revealing that Australian Aboriginal communities were using boomerangs to modify the edges (thus, the function) of stone tools. Then, she analysed 100 boomerangs recovered from the collection of The Australian Museum in Sydney and identified some use marks on their surfaces, suggesting the use of those boomerangs for the modification of stone tools. Finally, she executed an experiment using replicas of both boomerangs and stone tools: the boomerangs were used to modify the edges of the stone tools; and this action left some peculiar use marks on the surfaces of the boomerangs. Those marks are comparable with the ones identified on the boomerangs coming from the Museum’s collection.


Ms Martellotta completed her previous studies in Italy: in Sapienza University of Rome, where she specialised in experimental archaeology, and in the University of Ferrara, where she specialised in Traceology (that is, the study of use marks on ancient tools) applied to bone tools recovered in Prehistoric archaeological contexts associated with the Neanderthal Man.

Since 2019, she has been a PhD candidate at the Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution at Griffith University, Brisbane. Here, she is studying the multi-purpose nature of hardwood boomerangs in Australian Aboriginal culture.

Researchers working in similar fields

Ms Martellotta would like to hear from researchers working in similar fields and more experienced researchers willing to share suggestions and insights. Please contact her via