Ancient Syrians Made Stone Tools Locally Instead Of Importing Finished Tools from Turkey, Study


Ancient Syrians made stone tools locally rather than importing finished tools as was previously believed, according to a study conducted by researchers from University of Sheffield.

The finding published online in Journal of Archaeological Science provides evidence of early development of cities in these regions.

During the early Bronze Age (around 5300 to 3100 years ago), blades made from chert and obsidian (a rock formed as a result of cooled lava) were favored over metal tools. The stone tools were considered to be much sharper than bronze and were used for various cutting and scraping purposes, including agricultural activities, food processing, and crafts such as pottery and textile production.

"There is a prevalent idea that these blades were not made locally in Northern Mesopotamia, what is now Syria. It has been widely claimed that the blades were made in specialised workshops in southeast Turkey and then exported to villages and early cities throughout what is now Turkey, Syria, and Iraq," Dr Ellery Frahm from the University's Department of Archaeology said in an official statement.

Frahm analyzed the origins of obsidian tools from various archaeological sites, including Tell Mozan, a settlement mound located in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains in Al-Hasakah Governorate, northeastern Syria. He found that the raw materials came from various geological sources across Turkey rather than proposed workshop sites only.

 "This diversity of raw-material sources is inconsistent with export from highly specialised workshops in just one area of Turkey. Some of the artefacts' geological sources were hundreds of kilometres from the supposed blade workshops."

"The diverse obsidian origins, when combined with stone tool debris from the sites, suggests local production. Rather than arriving at the cities as finished blades, obsidian instead arrived as chunks, what are known as cores or preforms, and were brought by visitors either from diverse regions or with diverse itineraries. Instead of distant 'industrial' manufacturing, the materials for the blades reached the hands of the cities' specialists involved in household production principally for the local market."

Frahm said that domestic manufacturing of probably all goods today has protected Syrians from tough competition from imports.

"Unlike its neighbour Jordan, there are no McDonalds or Starbucks, and until recently, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and other international companies were banned from Syria.

"When our team headed into town for supplies, the shops had locally produced goods. The chemist had locally made pharmaceuticals and personal care products, while the market had local food and drink, paper products, even batteries. The beer was local too, brewed in Damascus and Aleppo," Frahm said.

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