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Obsidian value and exchange in the southern Red Sea region and its role in the establishment of prehistoric complex societies: new data from South Arabia and the African Horn

Author(s): Lamya Khalidi ; Bernard Gratuze ; Clément Ménard ; Edward Keall ; Amélie Diaz

Year: 2015

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Summary

The Red Sea is renowned as a locus of maritime activity during the early historic periods. As a result of systematic obsidian analyses of sources and artifacts, maritime interaction can now be traced back to the beginnings of the Neolithic in South Arabia. Its increased intensity is echoed in the cultural sphere that eventually formed on opposing shores of the two continents by at least the third millennium BC. New geochemical, archaeological and technological data from South Arabia, Ethiopia and Djibouti illustrate the current state of research on Afro-Arabian prehistoric interactions, highlighting variabilities and relationships between two mirroring regions either bound or separated by the Red Sea. While major chronological gaps remain regarding the transition from the LSA to the Neolithic, the study of lithic and faunal material from several sites allows us to note major technological and subsistence shifts that occurred independently in each region, but also early links, such as maritime interaction, that may have affected the nature of the process of neolithization. Finally, we discuss obsidian circulation in light of elements of cultural convergence that make up the Red Sea cultural sphere and which occur sometime in the late 4th millennium BC.

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Obsidian value and exchange in the southern Red Sea region and its role in the establishment of prehistoric complex societies: new data from South Arabia and the African Horn. Lamya Khalidi, Clément Ménard, Bernard Gratuze, Amélie Diaz, Edward Keall. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397810)


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min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America