Aims of the project

With an important scientific effort on the study of the geological sources, GéObs proposes a multi-disciplinary approach to one of the most impressive archaeological phenomena in late Prehistory: the exploitation of Anatolian obsidian by ancient groups for the manufacture of tools and prestige objects, and its spatial diffusion through exchange networks among communities across the ancient Near-East (including Anatolia and Caucasus).

The project is based on a detailed analysis of the volcanological and morphological settings of the outcrops around the 13 main sources recognized in Eastern Anatolia, in association with the systematic chemical and physical characterization of these obsidian outcrops.
In addition, the analyses of the artefact from selected archeological collections located in Eastern Anatolian (and Middle-East?) will allow a better knowledge of the obsidian diffusion from its origin to its discard; i.e. from the geological sources to the archaeological sites.
The aim of the project is to establish a detailed database and geographical information system of the obsidian sources in eastern Anatolia. We thus propose an integrated and pluridisciplinary approach for obsidian sourcing based on:

  • Intensive field research. In one hand, a precise study of volcanic settings allows a control over the source fingerprint. In the other hand, the morphological settings constrain peoples’ accessibility to sources through time. This study concerns primary geological sources as well as secondary reworked obsidian.
  • Multi-methods characterization of obsidian. The geological samples and archaeological artefacts are characterized using chemical (LA-ICP-MS, XRF and p-XRF) and physical properties (magnetic properties, petrography, mineralogy). Portable analyser (p-XRF) allows in situ characterization of the geological samples as well as the artefact.
  • Spatial analyse and diffusion. The results concerning geological samples and artefact are compared in order to understand the diffusion processes. The methods of spatial analysis are used in order to understand the diffusion of the obsidian during prehistoric times, from its geological origin to its deposition in archaeological sites.
Our Franco-Turkish team covers the entire scientific fields of obsidian studies, including obsidian sourcing, obsidian characterization, volcanic geomorphology, diffusion processes and spatial analyse as well as Neolithic of Anatolia