Skip to main content

Obsidian Trade at the Onset of the Neolithic in the Near East. Assessing Obsidian Tool Use and Modelling Exchange Networks.


ObsTrade is designed to understand obsidian trade at the onset of the Neolithic in the Near East. Long distance exchange is considered the marker of emergent social networks allowing interactions between distant villages. ObsTrade assumes that these networks improved modes of cultural accumulation of prehistoric societies. This was fundamental for the emergence and transmission of innovations during the transition to farming. For understanding obsidian trade, ObsTrade will investigate what traded obsidian tools were used for and how they were exchanged. The project proposes an original, innovative and interdisciplinary approach, by analysing Neolithic obsidian tool function and geographical distribution. Two cutting-edge methodologies will be applied: 1) the high-precision surface texture analysis through Confocal Scanning Microscopy (CSM) and metrology software for the identification of tool use; 2) the Complex Systems theory and modelling for characterising the obsidian exchange networks and their involvement in the emergence and spread of innovations. An Open Access database (ObsTrade database) containing all data about obsidian presence, geological origins, distribution and use in Near Eastern Neolithic sites will be created. Project results will be made available to the general public through the creation of a graphic novel, and through several outreach activities. The ObsTrade project will allow gaining a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the formation of the first complex farming societies, using innovative methodologies that will contribute notably to European excellence and competitiveness.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/computer and information sciences/databases
  • /agricultural sciences/agriculture, forestry, and fisheries/agriculture
  • /agricultural sciences/animal and dairy science
  • /social sciences/economics and business/business and management/commerce

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MSCA-IF-EF-ST - Standard EF


Calle Serrano 117
28006 Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 160 932,48