Raw material variability as archaeological tools: Preliminary results from a geochemical study of the basalt vessel workshop at Iron Age Tel Hazor, Israel

  • Tatjana Gluhak Johannes Gutenberg University
  • Danny Rosenberg University of Haifa
  • Jennie Ebeling University of Evansville
Keywords: ground stone tools, basalt vessels, workshop, geochemistry, Iron Age, Tel Hazor, Israel


The discovery of a basalt vessel workshop at Tel Hazor, one of the most important Iron Age sites in the Near East, marks a turning point in our understanding of stone artifact production and distribution during the1st millennium BCE. It offers a rare opportunity to characterize ancient raw material sources, production sites, and study production, trade and distribution systems. The basalt vessel workshop, the only one of its kind in the Levant, produced large quantities of bowl preforms and production waste. To better understand the production and distribution systems behind this specialized production center, in 2011 we initiated a focused geochemical project that concentrated on the products of this unique workshop.  We measured the major and trace element composition of 44 unfinished basalt vessels from the workshop and other contexts at Hazor, and can demonstrate that the majority of these objects were derived from one specific, geochemically well-constrained, basaltic rock source. Only a few bowls clearly deviate from this geochemical composition and were produced using raw material from other sources. Thus, we believe that one major quarry existed that supplied the Hazor workshop with the majority of the basaltic raw material. The products from this specific extraction site provide us with a “Hazor reference group” that can be used to test whether or not finished vessels from Hazor and contemporary sites were produced in the Hazor workshop.

Author Biographies

Tatjana Gluhak, Johannes Gutenberg University
Institute of Geosciences
Johannes Gutenberg University
Danny Rosenberg, University of Haifa

Laboratory for Ground Stone Tools Research
Zinman Institute of Archaeology
University of Haifa

Jennie Ebeling, University of Evansville

Department of Archaeology and Art History
University of Evansville
Evansville, IN


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How to Cite
Gluhak, T., Rosenberg, D., & Ebeling, J. (2016). Raw material variability as archaeological tools: Preliminary results from a geochemical study of the basalt vessel workshop at Iron Age Tel Hazor, Israel. Journal of Lithic Studies, 3(3), 169-189. https://doi.org/10.2218/jls.v3i3.1677
Presented at the 1st Meeting of the Association for Ground Stone Tools Research