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Moving Stones. Europe’s Neolithic Bridge: Anatolia

En bref

L'IFEA est un Institut de recherche français en Turquie. Dépendant du MEAE et du CNRS, il a pour vocation de faciliter, de fédérer et d'impulser des recherches en sciences humaines et sociales. C'est une structure de services et d'accueil des chercheurs. L'institut propose une programmation scientifique ouverte au public. 

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The utilization of Obsidian, a natural volcanic glass, within the Anatolian communities is the core of the Obsidian Use Project. Obsidian extracted from two regions, Central Anatolia (Cappadocia) and Eastern Anatolia (Bingöl, Van Lake area) were widely diffused in the Near-East. These raw materials were transported over hundreds of kilometers the most probably through exchange networks. Mechanical properties of obsidians allow the manufacture of a wide range of objects through different kinds of techniques and methods of knapping and polishing. Objects are mainly, for the periods under study, tools and secondarily, bracelets, pendants, vessels or mirrors.

Obsidian is therefore for archaeologists a key element to study multiple technical practices related to different kind of subsistence or craft activities: harvesting, hunting, butchery, treatment of vegetal and animal materials (bone, antler, skin, hide) and work of different kind of rocks. Obsidian reveals as well social practices: identification of exchange networks, funeral practices and ritual of foundation. Among the main questions, the way in which the communities adopted the raw material, the rhythms and modalities of the adoption depend on the regional diversity in obsidian procurements, in the economies of the villages and in technical traditions.

At the present state of the research, chemical analysis on obsidians allow us to identify the roads of diffusion of the raw material but not to identify the social mechanisms which were behind. Our aim is to identify such mechanisms with the help of a technological approach, to analyze the way in which the ancient communities manufactured and used their lithic tools, to better understand the organization of these communities and their social links.

The Department of Prehistory of the University of Istanbul and the French Institute of Anatolian Studies of Istanbul (IFEA) are associated within this project which has been initiated by Laurence Astruc, Nur-Balkan-Atlı, Semra Balcı, Ciler Altınbilek and Nurcan Kayacan in 2008. The study of the archaeological assemblages (technological and use-wear analysis) is here based on a fundamental research on the mechanisms of wear held by the Laboratory of Tribology and System Dynamics/Centrale Lyon. Tribologists and archaeologists study wear phenomena with complementary methods. The project is contributing on a methodological point of view to the development of studies on obsidian artefacts in other regions: already following the activity of several members of the team in Levant and Mesopotamia and in Eastern Mediterranean.   This program is financed by the National Research Agency (ANR), Programme Blanc 2009-2011(ANR-08-BLAN-0318-02).