Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Unpacking Uruk exchange networks: The use of functional, spatial, and bulk stable isotope analyses of bitumen artifacts from Hacinebi Tepe, Turkey in reconstructing broad economic patterns of the Uruk expansion


Anthropology Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


This research addresses the economic expansion of state societies from southern Mesopotamia into southwest Iran and southeast Anatolia, through the use of stable carbon and deuterium isotope analyses of bitumen artifacts. The key goal of the project was to get beyond simply the identification of trade and examine broad regional patterns in the exchange system. To this end, the methodological approach of this research was focused on the reconstruction of general exchange patterns using a large sample set. The results of these analyses suggest the utility of bulk isotopic analyses in the identification of broad regional patterns, serving as a complement to detailed isotopic and molecular work on asphaltene extractions of bitumen. The source identifications presented in the paper were further supported by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry as well as compound specific isotope analyses. Furthermore, because bitumen was employed in a variety of ways in the ancient Near East, including as a packaging material for other trade goods, a spatial/functional analysis of bitumen artifacts, combined with geochemical data allows for a range of questions to be addressed. The results of this research indicate changes in the organization of trade at the site of Hacinebi associated with the Uruk expansion.

Conference Name

SAA 79th Annual Meeting

Conference Location

Austin TX

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