Petroarchaeological investigation of the so-called ‘other stone industry’ from Tell Arbid Abyad, SYRIA


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Year of publication 2012
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Proceedings of the 7th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Geology and mineralogy
Keywords Mesopotamia; Syria; petroarchaeology; other lithic industry; geochemistry of basalts; carbonates
Description This paper will discuss the so-called ‘other stone industry’ from Tell Arbid Abyad (Upper Khabur Basin, north east Syria). It concerns the excavations of a Czech project under the direction of Inna Mateiciucová, which is joined to the Syrian- Polish Archaeological Expedition working at Tell Arbid. The excavation found Late Neolithic settlement activity from the beginning of the 6th millennium BC. No natural sources of compact rocks exist on the site and in its neighbourhood. Every find of stone from archaeological contexts therefore had to be imported to the site. The prevalent limestones (72.3 %) are represented by angular chips and pebbles. They are present as 0.14 % of the total recognised artefacts. Basalts (21.9 %) are the dominant material within the recognized artefacts (82.69 %). We have supposed the limestone chips originate from an alluvial fan because, according to the geomorphological map, its southern margin is roughly 10 km to the north of the archaeological site. The limestone raw material can therefore be classified as local. Four potential sources for the basalt artefacts are possible: the Hemma plateau and Kawkab volcano to the south and west, a projection from the Karacadag in the north west and another basalt plateau near the Tigrid in the east. According to chemical analyses of the basalt sources, the rocks are classified as alkali basalts, trachybasalt and foidites. Our analysed basalt artefacts most correspond to alkaline basalt from the Hemma plateau.
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