Basalt procurement

The title of my PhD thesis was Basaltic-rock  procurement systems of the southern Levant: Case studies from the Chalcolithic-Early Bronze I and the Late Bronze-Iron Ages. I get the very occasional request for it, so thought that I’d make it available for download (8.4 Mb). The data is probably still worth publishing, and is one of those things that I really must get around to doing; or at least seeing if there’s any journal out there which will publish it! I also have available the data in Access 2000 format, if anyone can make use of that. Unfortunately I can’t make it available on wordpress, but do get in touch if you want it. Obviously, if you do make use of any of this, please reference it properly, and I’d also be very interested in hearing about it. If you’ve got any questions, do get in touch as well. I’ll include the abstract in this post, but I’ll talk about what it actually means in future posts!

Rutter, G. P. 2003 Basaltic-rock  procurement systems of the southern Levant: Case studies from the Chalcolithic-Early Bronze I and the Late Bronze-Iron Ages. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Durham.

This study describes the investigation of the intra-regional procurement of basaltic artefacts within the southern Levant. Previous provenance studies, geological theory and provenance theory were all examined. It was concluded that the analysis of basaltic rocks could be best undertaken using the ICP-MS analysis of the rare earth and high field strength elements (REE and HFSE) of whole rock samples. Existing outcrop analyses were compiled into a database, allowing their use in this and future provenance studies, although more samples were required for complete coverage.

The existing archaeological literature was reviewed, showing that there was a lack of data on basaltic artefacts, hampering efforts to understand how the procurement systems operated. New artefactual and geological samples were collected and analysed for trace elements using ICP‑MS. A new provenancing methodology was developed and, using the database of analyses, the artefacts were provenanced using the REE and HFSE. Artefacts analysed by previous studies were reassigned. The majority of artefacts originated from three main sources; the North Jordan Valley, the Galilee and, most unexpectedly, Mount Hermon. This has implications for the history of the region, which were briefly discussed.

It was also noted that there was little data on either differences in the physical properties between different rock types or on the anthropogenic weathering of basaltic rock. Samples of different rock types were tested using the uniaxial compressive strength test; it is suggested that physical properties influenced past raw material choices.

Future directions for research include the routine analysis and publication of basaltic artefacts during post‑excavation work and the extension of the provenance study by gathering more samples and utilising advances in analytical technology. Furthermore, the new provenance methodology has the potential to be adapted for widespread use.

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