Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


22 March 2012

Melian obsidian in NW Turkey: Evidence for early Neolithic trade

Catherine Perlès, Turan Takaoğlu & Bernard Gratuze Journal of Field Archaeology 36.1 (March 2011): 42-49.


Archaeological investigations carried out at the Early Neolithic coastal site of Coşkuntepe in northwestern Turkey yielded an assemblage of 110 obsidian artifacts displaying the macroscopic characteristics of the well-known obsidian deposits on the Cycladic island of Melos. Analysis of three samples from this homogeneous obsidian assemblage using both X-Ray Fluorescence and Laser Ablation High Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry confirmed that these artifacts were derived from Melos. The presence of these Melian obsidian artifacts at Coşkuntepe, along with a few pieces with central Anatolian macroscopic characteristics, is intriguing because intensive production of tools made of local flint was also identified at the site through the analysis of surface scatters. This finding raises the question of the status of obsidian and associated procurement systems. The presence of obsidian can be also used to argue that certain coastal villages acted as nodes of exchange for Aegean seafarers at times in the late 7th millennium B.C.


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