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Provenance study on prehistoric obsidian objects found in Romania (Eastern Carpathian Basin and its neighbouring regions) using Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis

Kasztovszky, Zsolt, Biró, Katalin T., Nagy-Korodi, István, Sztáncsuj, Sándor József, Hágó, Attila, Szilágyi, Veronika, Maróti, Boglárka, Constantinescu, Bogdan, Berecki, Sándor, Mirea, Pavel
Quaternary international 2019 v.510 pp. 76-87
basins, color, hardness, mountains, provenance, raw materials, Armenia, Carpathian region, Romania, Sardinia
Macroscopic characteristics, such as hardness, relatively easy workability, transparency, translucency, and shiny black colour of the Carpathian 1 (C1) type obsidian, which is one significant variety of the Carpathian obsidians made, it highly valuable in the Prehistoric times. It was transported several hundreds of kilometres away from the geological source, becoming wide-spread in the Eastern part of the Carpathian Basin as well.Seventy-two pieces of Prehistoric (Neolithic to Bronze Age) obsidian artefacts (tools, arrow heads, chips and fragments) found in different parts of Romania (Transylvania, Banat and Muntenia) have been investigated by non-destructive prompt-gamma activation analyses. The aim of the study was to determine the provenance of their raw materials. The geochemical composition of the artefacts showed high similarity with that of the obsidian samples collected at outcrops from the Slovakian side of the Tokaj Mountains. Based on characteristic major and trace element concentrations, most of the studied Romanian obsidian artefacts are characterized as C1 type obsidians. However, some archaeological pieces from Banat and Muntenia have been identified as Carpathian 2 (C2, Tolcsva-Erdőbénye and Mád) type. Based on the PGAA results, any other provenance, such as Lipari, Melos, Sardinia, Yali, Antiparos or Armenia can be excluded with high significance. Our results suggest that in parallel with the predominance of the C1 type obsidian raw material in the Transylvanian Basin, simultaneous use of C2 type obsidian raw material can be shown outside Transylvania (in Banat and Muntenia) and especially during the Neolithic. This can imply different connections and raw material supply routes from the Tokaj Mountains to Transylvania and to the southern regions during the Neolithic and the Copper Age.