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Obsidian and Ancient Manufactured Glasses

Edited by Ioannis Liritzis and Christopher M. Stevenson

This edited volume offers archaeologists and archaeometrists the latest technical information, the fundamentals of provenance studies, instrumentation used in these investigations, and strategies for the dating and interpretation of archaeological materials in glass studies. The contributors discuss recent advances in obsidian hydration dating, secondary ion mass spectrometry, and infrared photoacoustic spectroscopy, focusing on the application of these technologies to a variety of glass forms and incorporating studies that look at the social and economic strategies of past cultures.

With examples from Greece, the Middle East, Italy, Peru, Bolivia, Russia, Africa, and the Pacific region, provenance studies look at regional patterns of glass acquisition, production, and exchange, providing examples that use one or more instrumental methods to characterize materials from ancient societies.

Extensive figures and tables included.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. vii-viii

Figures and Tables

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pp. ix-xiv

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pp. xv-xvi

The impetus for this book came from our desire to produce an up-to-date and informative volume on current obsidian and man-made glass studies that will encourage further work in this field. To generate a wider appreciation of the project’s aim, the editors hosted a specialized...

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Editors’ Introduction

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pp. xvii-xx

About every 10 years it becomes necessary to prepare an edited volume by experts in the field of glass studies that reflects new developments and applications in absolute dating and provenance. The pace of analytical advances and instrument development is rapid, and now more...

Part 1: Obsidian Hydration Dating

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1: Aspects of Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) Depth Profiling for Obsidian Hydration Dating

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pp. 3-14

The SIMS technique provides an ideal tool for measuring hydrogen (H) profiles for use in obsidian hydration dating (OHD). The measurement of a natural obsidian fracture surface by SIMS is not straightforward, however, and subject to several factors. Measurements have been collected...

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2: Obsidian Hydration Chronometrics Using SIMS and Optical Methods from 26-year Temperature-controlled Exposures

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pp. 15-25

Obsidian samples from three separate volcanic provinces in Papua New Guinea have been exposed in normal air and water vapor pressure to controlled temperatures of 10 ºC, 20 ºC, 30 ºC, and 40 ºC, for up to 26 years. The purpose of the experiment was to provide hydration rate constants at normal terrestrial temperatures for archaeological dating...

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3: The SIMS-SS Obsidian Hydration Dating Method

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pp. 26-45

In 1960, Friedman and Smith recognized the obsidian hydration phenomenon and proposed a dating method based on the conversion of the hydration depth to an absolute age. Two subsequent refinements of obsidian hydration dating (OHD)—empirical rate dating and intrinsic rate dating—improved...

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4: Temperature Correction for Obsidian Hydration Dating

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pp. 46-55

Hydration of obsidian is a diffusion-reaction process, the rate of which is dependent on temperature. Chronological analyses based on obsidian hydration must therefore account for the effects of the temperature history to which the artifact has been subjected. For chronological analyses, the temperature...

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5: Obsidian Dating and Source Exploitation Studies in Africa: Implications for the Evolution of Human Behavior

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pp. 56-72

Obsidian occurs in the eastern Rift Valley region of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, and Tanzania, and in a restricted region of West Africa, in Cameroon. Source locations and chemical compositions are best documented in Kenya and Tanzania, and significant advances are now being made in Ethiopia. Several...

Part II: Obsidian and Glass Provenance

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6: Provenance of Peruvian Wari Obsidian: Comparing INAA, LA-ICP-MS, and Portable XRF

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pp. 75-85

For the past several years, researchers on the border between the two largest pre-Inca civilizations in the Andes, Wari and Tiwanaku, have been investigating the role of long-distance exchange in the development of early empires. Obsidian has played...

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7: New Perspectives on Obsidian Procurement and Exchange at Tiwanaku, Bolivia

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pp. 86-96

Tiwanaku was an important center of Andean civilization from AD 500 to AD 1000. Its urban inhabitants had access to exotic lithic raw materials, including obsidian. Samples from three obsidian quarries, 147 obsidian artifacts from eight different sectors in the prehistoric city of Tiwanaku, and 33...

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8: Volcanic Glass Procurement and Use in the Late Paleolithic, Central Primorye, Far East Russia

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pp. 97-114

Microblade technologies played an important role in supporting mobile foragers during the Late Paleolithic in northeast Asia. The use of insets into larger tools made from bone, antler, or wood provided the lethal, durable, and easily maintained...

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9: Obsidian Provenance at Several Italian and Corsican Archaeological Sites Using the Non-destructive X-ray Fluorescence Method

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pp. 115-129

The provenance of archaeological obsidian fragments has been determined using the non-destructive X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analytical method, based on the secondary X-ray intensity (Crisci et al. 1994). To establish this methodology, an analysis by classical XRF...

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10: Polynesian Volcanic Glass: Uses, Sourcing, and Distribution

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pp. 130-142

Volcanic glass has been used the world over for manufacturing a range of cutting tools used for utilitarian as well as ceremonial purposes. In Polynesia, aside from the mata’a of Easter Island, few formal tools are made and routine artifact forms are simple...

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11: Glass Vessels in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Compositional Study of Samples from Mtwapa, Kenya

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pp. 143-156

Archaeological evidence for ancient glass vessels has been recovered in virtually all urban contexts in Africa. However, since no elemental and chemical analyses have been carried out on that type of material, the making, distribution, and use of glass vessels in Sub-Saharan Africa remain poorly known...

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12: On the Provenance of Roman Glasses

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pp. 157-165

Roman glass is known for its compositional homogeneity, a feature that has been related to the use of sand and an evaporite soda-rich alkali (natron or trona) in production. Recent work has suggested that, at least for the fourth-century AD and later Roman glasses, a small number of discrete compositional...

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13: Characterization and Provenance of Archaeological Glass Artifacts from Mainland and Aegean Greece

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pp. 166-184

SEM-EDS analysis was used for the compositional characterization of two ancient glass beads collections, a late seventh-century BC Archaic collection from Rhodes Island and an Archaic to Hellenistic collection from mainland Greece (Thebes). The inclusion of additional literature data from fourth-to...

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14: The Provenance of Ancient Man-made Glass: Raw Materials and the Use of Chemical and Isotopic Analytical Techniques

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pp. 185-201

The differentiation of glass-making traditions between primary production centers in the ancient Middle East based upon chemical differences is a difficult process because the complexities of glass manufacture can change the composition of distinctive...

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15: Thoughts on Natural and Manufactured Glass Studies in a 21st-Century Archaeology

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pp. 202-210

It is rather axiomatic that “this is the only book of its kind,” which all publishers and authors note in publishing today, but this volume on the range of glass studies in a 21st-century archaeology is truly the only volume of its kind. In 1998 when many of...


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pp. 211-212

About the Editors

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pp. 213-214


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pp. 215-216

E-ISBN-13: 9780826351616
E-ISBN-10: 0826351611
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826351593
Print-ISBN-10: 082635159X

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 91 black-and-white figures, 42 tables