Tool sharpens focus on Stone Age networking in the Middle East | Science News

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Tool sharpens focus on Stone Age networking in the Middle East

Implement found in Syria was chipped out of obsidian deposit hundreds of kilometers away

7:00am, May 23, 2017
obsidian tool

WELL TRAVELED  A new chemical analysis finds that this 41,000- to 32,000-year-old obsidian tool, previously unearthed in a Syrian rock-shelter, was transported more than 700 kilometers. That means that long-distance movement of obsidian into the Middle East occurred much earlier than previously thought, researchers say.

A stone tool found in Syria more than 80 years ago has sharpened scientists’ understanding of Stone Age networking.

Small enough to fit in the palm of an adult’s hand, this chipped piece of obsidian dates to between 41,000 and 32,000 years ago, say archaeologists Ellery Frahm and Thomas Hauck. It was fashioned out of volcanic rock from outcrops in central Turkey, a minimum of 700 kilometers from where the artifact was found, the researchers report in the June Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports. Until now, the earliest transport of obsidian into the Middle East was thought to have occurred between 14,500 and 11,500 years ago, when Natufian foragers began to live in year-round settlements (SN: 9/25/10, p. 14).

Someone probably shaped the obsidian chunk into a usable tool near

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