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Mariners may have travelled the Aegean Sea in Greece even before the end of the last ice age to extract coveted volcanic rocks for tools and weapons, according to new evidence.

A new technique which dates obsidian - volcanic glass which can be fashioned into tools - suggests that people were mining for obsidian in Mediterranean waters and shipping the once valuable rocks from the island of Melos in modern day Greece as far back as 15,000 years ago.

"Obsidian was a precious natural rock-glass found only in Melos, some in [the modern-day Greek areas of] Antiparos and Yali," Past Horizons quoted Nicolaos Laskaris of the University of the Aegean in Greece, as saying.

"From there it was spread all over the Aegean and in the continent too through contacts of trade," he added.

Laskaris and his colleagues turned to a method called obsidian hydration dating (OHD) combined with a newer technique known as secondary ion mass spectrometry of surface saturation (SIMS-SS) to determine how much water had penetrated the obsidian surfaces that were exposed to the air by prehistoric humans who were chipping the rocks to make tools and weapons.

Using the method, Laskaris and his colleagues were able to determine that Melos obsidian artifacts were making it to the mainland earlier than previously believed.

That naturally implies that people were crossing between islands very early in some unknown types of boats.

Source: Asian News International