The Theatrics of Technology: Consuming Obsidian in the Early Cycladic Burial Arena



Fine pressure-flaked obsidian blades are a regular feature of burial assemblages from the Early Bronze I Cyclades. While they tend to be complete and unused, they are essentially the same products as those from contemporary settlements. This changed over time, with the development of a highly skilled knapping technology dedicated to the manufacture of long blades for consumption in funerary ritual. While some of these blades were employed as grave goods, others were withheld for distribution among the living participants of the ceremony. The cores remained in circulation prior to their reuse as pestles for preparing body paints. This chapter investigates this flamboyant technique through the metaphor of theater, offering a reconstruction as to how these episodes of production, distribution, and discard might have been staged and considers the ramifications of the performance, its actors, audience, and directors in the construction and maintenance of social relations among these small island communities.