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Obsidian Characterization at the McMaster Archaeological XRF Laboratory: Case-Studies from the Italian Island of Sardinia

Author(s): Kyle Freund ; Tristan Carter

Year: 2017

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The McMaster Archaeological X-ray Fluorescence Laboratory (MAX Lab) was established in 2010 with the goal of using compositional analyses of archaeological objects to engage with broad-level questions about past human behavior. In this context, obsidian has been the primary artifact type analyzed, taking form through the sourcing of artifacts to the geological sources from which they originated. As an example, this presentation focuses on prehistoric obsidian exploitation on the central Mediterranean island of Sardinia (ca. 6th - 2nd millennia B.C.). Using data obtained through the collation of published sourcing studies along with primary analyses of individual assemblages this study contextualizes changes in obsidian consumption through time. Key issues surrounding the recognition of various exchange mechanisms in the archaeological record are discussed as well as the specific circumstances behind the development of large-scale Sardinian obsidian circulation networks, the contraction of these same networks at the time of the first metalworking, and the reconfigured modes of consumption characteristic of the Bronze Age and Nuragic eras. This presentation highlights how the MAX Lab has been instrumental in promoting integrated characterization programs that are critical in interpreting the role of obsidian and other materials within larger socio-economic processes throughout the Mediterranean, Anatolia, and beyond.

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Obsidian Characterization at the McMaster Archaeological XRF Laboratory: Case-Studies from the Italian Island of Sardinia. Kyle Freund, Tristan Carter. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431392)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16814

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