GSM Lecture: Monday, October 24, 2011, 7:30 PM
Location: University of MN, Kenneth Keller Hall, 200 Union St SE, Room 3-210
Humans as a Geological Transport Mechanism:
Tracing the Movement of Lithic Resources across the Ancient Near Eastern Landscape
Ellery Frahm, Ph.D., University of Minnesota
“Humans as a Geological Transport Mechanism: Tracing the Movement of Lithic Resources across the Ancient Near Eastern Landscape”
Stone tools continued to be used -- and transported long distances by people -- in the ancient Near East well beyond the introduction of metal but have received little archaeological attention. It is widely thought that studying stone tools can offer little new information during a period in which there is a variety of artifacts and texts available to study. Obsidian -- that is, natural volcanic glass -- is unparalleled in its widespread distribution by humans throughout the region and in its ability to be sourced back to its geological origins, so it provides unique information about contact, exchange, and migration. Before the recent excavations at Tell Mozan (the Bronze-Age city of Urkesh) in northeastern Syria, most of the information about its inhabitants, the ancient Hurrians, was inferred from linguistic or textual evidence. Using sophisticated geological techniques to Identify the volcanic sources of their obsidian artifacts, though, can shed light on a number of highly debated issues. The study of humans as the newest geological transport mechanism -- only occurring during the last two million years or so -- offers a unique archaeological perspective.
Ellery Frahm earned a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he is currently a Research Associate in the Department of Earth Sciences and a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. His research interests involve the intersections of the geosciences and archaeology, in particular using geological techniques as a means to study archaeological materials and answer questions about human behavior. He is especially interested in natural resource access, exchange, and utilization in antiquity. His regional focus is Southwest Asia, what is now Syria, Turkey, and the Caucasus. For his dissertation, he studied the obsidian tools at a Bronze-Age archaeological site in northeastern Syria, and his current research involves Paleolithic obsidian use by Neanderthals in Armenia, where he conducted fieldwork this summer. He is currently Vice President and President Elect of the International Association for Obsidian Studies.
If you travel I-94, exit at Huron Ave, which is on the east side of the Mississippi River. The first stop light after the exit is SE Fulton. Turn left on Fulton to Harvard Street. Note that Fulton merges with East River Parkway just before it reaches Harvard, and technically, Fulton ends at the merger. Do not follow East River Parkway past the University Hospitals, instead turn right on Harvard.
Harvard is a narrow, busy street, so go slow and keep alert for pedestrians and cyclists, who seem to ignore cars. Cross Washington Ave. and the parking ramp we all know and love is just on the other side. Turn left on Beacon Street, and left again on Union.
For folks who must use I-94, another possibility is to exit at 280 and then get on University Avenue. For the next month or so, the intersection at Univ. will still be a mess. Take Univ. west as far as Williams arena, then branch onto 4th St. as it becomes one way. Go a few blocks to 17th Avenue. Turn left. In 1 block you cross Univ. and then 17th becomes Church St. Then follow the directions in the paragraph just above.