5. Tools That Are Over 4,000 Years Old
University of Sheffield archaeologists recently found 4,200 year old obsidian tools in Tell Mozan, a site in Syria near its borders with Turkey and Iraq. Obsidian is naturally occurring volcanic glass and has been used for millennia to make stone tools; today, it is still used in scalpels for certain medical procedures. By examining the mineral composition of the obsidian, archaeologists were able to discover that the tools came from 200 kilometers away in eastern Turkey, revealing ancient trade routes and commercial interactions among ancient societies.
A comment from the leader of the research, Dr Ellery Frahm, shows how the study of the past can be valuable in the present and not only for our knowledge of historical events. As Dr. Frahm says:
The current situation in Syria is tragic and precarious. Because of both professional and personal interests, I follow developments in Syria closely. It can be so overwhelming and heartbreaking that I have to take a break from it, which, unlike the people who are living through the fighting, I have the luxury of doing. Whatever the future holds, there will be a lot of work to do there, both humanitarian and archaeological, and I’m very much interested in the interfaces between them. How can archaeology perhaps help Syria recover from this?
Ruins and tools lost long ago cannot speak. But what they can tell us — about our history, about the present day — more than merits preservation and study so one day we can indeed just go and read about such things online.
Photo of Tell Mozan via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: Impassionedcinema
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