Obsidian in Ethiopia: a Geoarchaeological perspective


  • Agazi Negash


Ethiopia; geochemistry; obsidian; provenance; Stone Ages


In Ethiopia, obsidian is mainly found in the Afar Depression and the Main Ethiopian Rift. The compositional and petrological features of these obsidians vary. Some volcanic centers show that varying volcanic eruptions from a single center may not necessarily imply variable chemistry. Obsidian has been dated using K/Ar, Ar/Ar, and fission track methods to determine the time of eruption but there are also a few dates on artifacts by hydration dating to establish the time of tool manufacture. Many of the geological sources were utilized by prehistoric populations beginning at least since the Early Stone Age but obsidian became commonly used during the Middle Stone Age. Obsidian based stone tool use for scraping in Ethiopia persisted until recent times.