Programmes > Par auteur > Hughes Richard E.

The acquisition and conveyance of obsidian in Neolithic in the area of present-day Poland
Dagmara H. Werra  1, *@  , Iwona Sobkowiak-Tabaka  2@  , Richard E. Hughes  3@  
1 : The Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences
Aleje Solidarnosci 105 00-140 Warsaw -  Pologne
2 : Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences Centre for Prehistoric and Medieval Studies
Rubież 46, 61- 612 Poznań -  Pologne
3 : Geochemical Research Laboratory
20 Portola Green Circle Portola Valley, CA 94028 U.S.A. -  États-Unis
* : Auteur correspondant

Obsidian, a natural volcanic glass, was one of the best siliceous rocks available to prehistoric communities to be applied in manufacturing a wide variety of chipped stone tools. Now, in present-day Poland, we find sites from the Middle Paleolithic, which deliver the initial evidence for its use by prehistoric communities . However, from the period covering the time-span between Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic, the number of sites, where obsidian items were unearthed, is rather small. Dramatic changes occurred with the onset of the Neolithic (ca. 7,500 B.P.), which is coincident with the development of Linear Pottery Culture, and persisted over the time of Malice and Lengyel culture existence, middle Neolithic.

Due to the distinctive trace of obsidian and rare earth element composition, geochemical “fingerprints” can be determined for geological sources by using various instrumental methods and can then be compared with those derived from archaeological artifacts to determine the most likely source location for the artefactual raw material. Thanks to these stable geochemical properties precise identification of geochemical source is possible, which can allow to reconstruct distribution paths of obsidian artifacts, and to investigate issues of extraction, exchange, and contacts between prehistoric communities

For our presentation we would like to introduce the materials for Racibórz-Ocice site (South Poland) from which two artefacts were analysed by using non-destructive energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF). The new geochemical data regarding artefacts from this site have become the starting point to study long-distance contact between Poland and the Near East during the Neolithic period.

Obsidian artefacts are present on more than hundred Neolithic sites in present-day Poland. Long-distance connections also are proved by presence of imported pottery and ‘mobile art'. The trade contacts are confirmed by appearance of flints imported from Poland, especially ‘chocolate' and Jurassic-Cracow flint, in Slovakia and Hungary. In the presentation we would like to focus on acquisition and conveyance of obsidian in Neolithic as an example of long-distance exchange in order to reconstruct the way of transaction, distribution roads and the meaning of 'exotic' siliceous rock in communication of prehistoric communities.


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