Project 1405

INQUA Project 1405: Obsidian exploitation and provenance studies in Eurasian prehistory: a comparative perspective in diverse palaeoenvironment.


Ono, Akira1-1, Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan 101-8301. Email:


General description. This project focuses on dynamic interactions between the natural environment and human activities with particular reference to obsidian raw material exploitation in Eurasian prehistory.

This project will be carried out as part of a proposed IFG in HaB COMM (Leaders: L. G. Strauss and M. Izuho): Human technological and behavioral adaptation around the Last Glacial Maximum in Northern Eurasia.

Lithic raw material exploitation and provenance studies, specifically on obsidian, in the Palaeolithic and Neolithic have long traditions both in Europe, Northeast Asia, Japan and whole geographical areas of Eurasia.

For pursuit the project, we will organize an international workshop aiming various aspects of obsidian use in late Pleistocene and early Holocene with explicit interest of correlation between natural resource environment and humans from areas Hungary, Ukraine, China, Korea, Russian Far East, and Japan. We plan to invite particularly Graduate students, Post Doctoral and Early-Career Researchers as listed above.

The goal of the project aims to discuss adequate obsidian provenance methods and enhancing Quaternary perspectives on archaeological and geological integration on the theme.

Specific objectives

  1. For the obsidian provenance, various analytical methods are applied in laboratories and countries both including destructive and non-destructive ways, such as Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA), Proton-Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE), Wavelength-Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (WDX), and Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (EDX) etc. The Project will identify appropriate methodological combinations on a case by case basis for examining archeological and geological obsidian through discussions at the workshop.
  2. To clarify patterns of human technological and behavioral adaptation in various obsidian source and consumption areas. This links with one of the IFG’s themes: Human technological and behavioral adaptation around the Last Glacial Maximum in Northern Eurasia.
  3. The project will set out testable models for the interaction between the natural environment and humans through various lithic raw material exploitations in palaeoenvironmental contexts.
  4. The project workshop will enhance Graduate Students and Early-Career Researchers from countries of Eurasia from various Quaternary disciplines.

This project focuses on the interaction between the natural resource environment and Palaeolithic and Neolithic human activity with reference to obsidian raw material exploitation in Eurasia. This viewpoint broadly enhances activities of HaB COMM, focusing on changes in Quaternary palaeoenvironments and organisms including humans and their environment. The project covers the time-span of the late Pleistocene and early Holocene in Eurasia.


The project activities consist of two parts:

1) A symposium will be held in Tokyo for preliminary analysis and discussing archaeological features of the Hiroppata Upper Palaeolithic site group in the mountainous area of Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Results of geochemical and archaeological analysis of obsidian from the Hiroppara site, as well as of palaeoenvironmental reconstruction of the site will be presented and discussed.

Dates: 15 and 16 March 2014.

Venue: Meji University, Tokyo.

Oral presentations: A. Ono, K. Shimada, S. Sugihara, F. Kumon, Y. Kudo, J. Hashizume, S. Aida, M. Nagai, Y. Suda, T. Soda, H. Yoshida, a. Kanauchi, T. Chiba, T. Sase, M. Hosono, Y. Matsushima, and K. Masubuchi.

Funding: The costs of this symposium will be funded by Meiji University.

2) We will hold an International Workshop for Young Scientists in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Meiji University supports most part of this workshop in addition to funds from INQUA Project Code 1405.

Title: Workshop for Natural Resource Environment and Humans in Eurasian Prehistory: A view from Obsidian provenance and Circulation.

Dates: 26-27, September 2014.

Venue: Center for Obsidian and Lithic Studies, Meiji University, Nagawa Town, Nagano Prefecture, Japan.

The following people will be funded by the INQUA Project: M.Bilyk, PhD (Ukranine), H. K. Cho, PhD (Korea), L. Dogiama, PhD (Greece), L. Goy, PhD (Russia), P. Levchuk, PhD(Ukraine), W. Luo, ECR(China), A. Marco, PhD (Hungary), B. Melosu ECR (Italy), E. A. Nozdrachev, ECR (Russia).