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Tristan Carter

Tristan Carter

Associate Professor

CNH 507
Office Phone: 905-525-9140 ext. 23910



  1. PhD Institute of Archaeology (UCL), 1999


Research & Supervisory Interests


My research focus is Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern prehistory, covering the Aegean, Anatolia, Levant, and Mesopotamia spanning the Epi-Palaeolithic to Late Bronze Age, i.e. hunter-gatherer to state-level societies.

Through studying obsidian tools I aim to map common cultural traditions across space and time (as represented by shared raw material and technological choices) following the belief that such practices both reflected and part-constituted these peoples’ ways of life. In reconstructing these ‘communities of practice’ we can reveal the networks of interaction which facilitated the movement of new practices and ideas. I specifically aim to document the connections that enabled the spread of agriculture and the subsequent emergence of chiefly and state-level societies in Anatolia and the Aegean. I also use the approach to reconstruct the supra-regional connections of the ‘world’s first temple complex’ at Göbekli Tepe in south-eastern Anatolia.

Raw material sourcing is undertaken at the McMaster Archaeological XRF Lab [MAX Lab], Canada’s first dedicated archaeological characterization facility, using energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence spectrometry [EDXRF], a non-destructive method of elemental characterization. Current studies involve the analysis of artefacts from Anatolia (Boncuklu, Çatalhöyük, Göbekli Tepe and Körtik Tepe), Israel (Marj Rabba), Iraq (Tell Nader), Iran (Yanik Tepe), Jordan (Hemmeh, Wisad Pools), Syria (Abu Hureyra) and more recently Belize (Buenavista del Caya, Minanha).

My supervision interests include:  Mediterranean/Mesopotamian/Old World prehistory, lithic technology; archaeometry; archaeology and popular culture; the archaeology of production and exchange; island societies; landscape survey; the politics of archaeology; state level societies; the archaeology of the body; the archaeology of death.

The major field projects that I am involved with are the Neolithic sites of Çatalhöyük and Göbekli Tepe (Anatolia), and the ‘Minoan’ settlements of Malia and Mochlos (Crete).

I enjoy long-term research collaborations with scholars based at the Université Bordeaux 3,  Van University, Kiel University, Stanford University and NCRS Demokritos, Athens.


Courses (2015-16)


  • Anthrop 2WA3 - World Archaeology
  • Anthrop 3LA3 - Lithics Analysis



  • Anthrop 2PC3 - Archaeology and Popular Culture
  • Anthrop 4AH3 - Archaeology & Heritage: Ethics, Politics and Practice

Courses (2014-15)


  • Anthrop 2WA3 - World Archaeology
  • Anthrop 4E03 - Adv Topics in Archaeology I


  • Anthrop 3E03 - Special Topics in Archaeology
  • Anthrop 710 - Topics in Archaeology



Publications (Recent Selection)

(full publication list in PDF format)

*2013    (Carter, T., Grant, S., Özkaya, V. and Coşkun, A.), ‘Networks and Neolithisation: Sourcing obsidian from Körtik Tepe (SE Anatolia)'.  Journal of Archaeological Science 40(1): 556-569.

*2012    (Carter, T., and Contreras, D.), 'The character and use of the Soros Hill obsidian source, Antiparos (Greece)', CR Palevol 11: 595-602.

*2011   (Carter, T., Le Bourdonnec, F.-X., Kartal, M., Poupeau, G., Calligaro, T. and Moretto, P.), 'Marginal perspectives: Sourcing obsidian from the Öküzini Cave (SW Turkey)', Paléorient 37.2: 123-149.

*2011    ‘A true gift of mother earth: the use and significance of obsidian at Çatalhöyük’, Anatolian Studies 61: 1-19.

*2010    (Hancock, R.G.V. and Carter, T.), ‘How reliable are our archaeometric data? Effects of analytical techniques through time on the elemental analysis of obsidian’, Journal of Archaeological Science 37(2): 243-250.
2010    ‘Of blades and burials, flakes and funerals: The chipped stone from Moni Odigitria’, in A. Vasilakis and K. Branigan (eds.), Moni Odigitria: A Prepalatial Cemetery and Its Environs in the Asterousia, Southern Crete. INSTAP Academic Press, Prehistory Monographs 30, Philadelphia: 151-169.

2009    ‘L’obsidienne égéenne: caractérisation, utilisation et culture’, in M.-H. Moncel and F. Fröhlich (eds.), L’Homme et le Precieux. Matières Minérales Précieuses de la Préhistoire à Aujourd’hui’. BAR Int. Series S1934, Archaeopress, Oxford: 199-212.

*2008    (Carter, T., Dubernet, S., King, R., Le Bourdonnec, F.-X., Milić, M., Poupeau, G. and Shackley, M.S.), ‘Eastern Anatolian obsidians at Çatalhöyük and the reconfiguration of regional interaction in the Early Ceramic Neolithic’, Antiquity 82(318): 900-909.

*2008    (King, R., Özcan, S., Carter, T., Kalfoglu, E., Atasoy, S., Triantiphyllidis, K., Kouvatsi, A., Lin, A., Chow, C., Zhivotovsky, L., Tsopanomichalou, M. and Underhill, P.), ‘Differential Y-chromosome Anatolian influences on the Greek and Cretan Neolithic’, Annals of Human Genetics 72: 205-214.
*2008    ‘The consumption of obsidian in the Early Bronze Age Cyclades’, in N. Brodie, J. Doole, G. Gavalas and C. Renfrew (eds.), Horizons: A Colloquium on the Prehistory of the Cyclades. McDonald Institute Monographs, Cambridge: 225-235.

2008    ‘Cinnabar and the Cyclades: Body modification and political structure in the Late EBI Southern Aegean’, in H. Erkanal, H. Hauptmann, V. Şahoğlu and R. Tuncel (eds.), The Aegean in the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Ankara University Press, Ankara: 119-129.

2008    ‘Beyond the Mohs scale: raw material choice and the production of stone vases in a Late Minoan context’, in J. Ebeling and Y. Rowan (eds.), New Approaches to Old Stones: Recent Studies of Ground Stone Artifacts. Equinox, London: 66-81.

*2007    ‘The theatrics of technology: Consuming obsidian in the Early Cycladic burial arena’, in R. Flad and Z. Hruby (eds.), Rethinking Craft Specialization in Complex Societies: Analyses of the Social Meaning of Production. Archaeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association 17(1): 88-107.
2007    ‘Of blanks and burials: hoarding obsidian at Neolithic Çatalhöyük’, in L. Astruc, D. Binder and F. Briois (eds.), Technical Systems and Near Eastern PPN Communities. Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop. Fréjus, 2004. Éditions APDCA, Antibes: 343-355.
*2007c    (Carter, T. and Kilikoglou, V.), ‘From reactor to royalty? Aegean and Anatolian obsidians from Quartier Mu, Malia (Crete)’, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 20.1: 115-143.

*2007d    (Carter, T. and Shackley, M.S.), ‘Sourcing obsidian from Neolithic Çatalhöyük (Turkey) using Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence’, Archaeometry 49(3): 437-454.

* peer reviewed


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