RECORD / MZ SITEWIDE / Video and Film Clips / VC21
Laerke Recht & Rick Hauser, 2014-
Updated July 2014

Film clip 21
Tracking Obsidian to the Source

Date ?
Editor Rick Hauser
Format .MP4
File size 38.3 MB
Duration 6.21 minutes


Tracking Obsidian to the Source

           In this astonishing sequence, Ellery Frahm, Research Associate, University of Minnesota and University of Sheffield (post-doctoral assignment) takes us back to the origin of three diverse artifacts of obsidian, the hard, glass-like material that originates in the caldera of volcanoes.

            The fragments are scarcely larger than your little fingernail, yet they can be analyzed chemically and their signature traced to its point of origin. All are in a line with Tell Mozan, marking what must have been an ancient trade or supply route.

           They end in habitations (Khabur), burials and brick-fall. But they originate far away and were brought to Mozan through mountain passes and riverine byways. The farthest outpost Ellery mentions is some 350 km away - and he is able to pinpoint the actual location of the tiny fragment to within 1 km, a promontory formed by lava flow inside the gigantic (6 km in diameter) caldera of a long-extinct volcano!

           Each fragment bears the marks of its making; fracture forms blade, and points to activities of manufacture and processing at ancient Urkesh.

            The most recent of the exemplars dates to the middle of the second millennium (Mitanni times), the penultimate phase of the existence of the settlement at Mozan.

            Information-laden artifacts, indeed.

Featuring               Ellery Frahm

Links TYPOLOGY > OBJECTS > lithic artefacts > obsidian