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McMaster Obsidian Procurement Expedition

McMaster Obsidian Procurement Expedition (MOPE)

team at giali
MOPE Team heading to Giali, Greece
(left to right: Kyle Freund, Sarah Grant, Tristan Carter, Daniel Contreras).

A necessary component of any characterization laboratory is a reference collection of pertinent source materials with which to match the elemental fingerprints of your archaeological artefacts. With much of our research involving the analysis of prehistoric obsidian artefacts from the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East it thus made sense to generate a collection from the major obsidian sources of the Aegean and Anatolia.

To this end – funded by a SSHRC grant – a small team of us has been working in Greece and Turkey in the summer of 2010 and 2011, collecting geo-referenced geological samples. In Turkey this has been undertaken in collaboration with our colleagues from Van University: Drs. Onur Köse, Mustafa Açlan and Sinan Kilic, while in Greece we were working alone with permission from the Institute of Geological and Mining Exploration (IGME). Other parts of our collection have been provided by gifts from various colleagues including Katsuji Kobayashi of the University of Melbourne and Dr. François-Xavier Le Bourdonnec of the University of Bordeaux 3 (see Collaborators).

Map of Anat Obs available at Lab 
Map indicating which of the Aegean, Cappadocian, Lake Van region and north-eastern Anatolian sources the MAX Lab has geological samples from.

The other major research area for members of the MAX Lab is that of Mesoamerica, as for example with our study of the Minanha assemblage from Belize [hyperlink back to project page]. This material has largely been provided by gifts from Prof. Mike Glascock of the University of Missouri (MURR) and Dr. Denisse Argote of the Institute of Geology of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Mesoamerican sources map final

Map showing which Mexican and Guatemalan source materials we have in our collection.