Department of Archaeology

The archaeological and analytical evidence for obsidian exploitation in Laconia, Greece

Chrysanthi Gallou and Edward Faber


Obsidian and chert found in Laconia.

 Obsidian and chert found in Laconia 

This project will combine a typological and distribution study of obsidian artefacts from archaeological contexts in Laconia, Greece, with the geochemical analysis of the artefacts and geological samples from the probable obsidian sources using ICP-MS, NAA and electron microprobe. Only three sources of workable obsidian have been identified to-date in Greece. All three sources are located in Aegean islands, namely Melos, Yali and Antiparos, and have been exploited, to a lesser or greater extent, for tool-making. The geochemical analysis of obsidian is an effective method of discriminating between sources because individual obsidian sources have distinct trace element fingerprints and are compositionally homogenous (Kilikoglou et al. 1996: 345; Kilikoglou et al. 1997: 87).

The main sources of obsidian in the Aegean, Eastern Europe and Asia Minor are well known and have been studied extensively, which means that their chemical signature has been well defined (Kilikoglou et al. 1996: 345-9; Kilikoglou et al. 1997 87-8; Arias et al. 2006: 378-80). By comparing the new evidence from our research with the published data we will be able to investigate the exploitation of material from these different sources and its consumption within the Laconia region.



Arias, A., Oddone, M., Bigazzi, G., Di Muro, A., Principe, C. and Norelli, P. 2006. New Data for the characterisation of Milos obsidians. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry 268: 371-86.

Kilikoglou, V., Bassiakos, Y., Grimanis, A.P., Souvatsis, K., Pilali-Papasteriou, A. and Papanthimou-Papaefthimiou, A. 1996. Carpathian Obsidian in Macedonia, Greece. Journal of Archaeological Science 23: 343-49.

Kilikoglou, V., Bassiakos, Y., Doonan, R.C. and Stratis, J. 1997. NAA and ICP analysis of obsidian from Central Europe and the Aegean: source characterisation and provenance determination. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry 216: 87-93.



Department of Archaeology

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