Distinguishing Nemrut Daĝ and Bingöl A obsidians: Geochemical and landscape differences and the archaeological implications

Ellery Frahm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Distinguishing the geochemically similar Bingöl A and Nemrut Daĝ peralkaline obsidians is a major challenge in Near Eastern obsidian sourcing. Despite abundant claims in the literature otherwise, this study reveals that Bingöl A and Nemrut Daĝ obsidians are distinguishable with adequate source sampling and highly accurate and repeatable data for geochemically important elements. Earlier research has endeavored to link a simple geochemical trend (peralkalinity) to specific locations at Nemrut Daĝ, but existing schemes to distinguish Bingöl A and Nemrut Daĝ obsidians cannot validly link compositional clusters to the landscape. This study demonstrates that additional elements are required to attribute artifacts to specific obsidian-bearing lava flows at the volcano. Limitations of this newly analyzed collection of geo-referenced Nemrut Daĝ and Bingöl specimens suggests caution is still warranted in sourcing peralkaline obsidians, but a few archaeological implications are clear. New sourcing results from Tell Mozan in northeastern Syria refute a widespread assumption that one can use maximal efficiency to deduce whether peralkaline obsidian artifacts originated from Nemrut Daĝ or Bingöl A. The ability to discern among these sources also enables inquiries into issues of cultural and technological preferences regarding these obsidians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1436-1444
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Giorgio Buccellati and Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati are co-directors of the Tell Mozan excavations under the auspices of the International Institute for Mesopotamian Area Studies. Export of the artifacts was graciously approved by the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums, the Ministry of Culture, Syrian Arab Republic. This study was possible thanks to the specimens collected by George “Rip” Rapp and the late Tuncay Ercan, and it was supported by the Departments of Earth Sciences and Anthropology, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. EMPA was carried out at the Electron Microprobe Laboratory, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Two anonymous reviewers provided comments that significantly improved the final manuscript.


  • Anatolia
  • Bingöl A
  • Near East
  • Nemrut Daĝ
  • Obsidian
  • Sourcing
  • Tell Mozan


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