• A Chronology of the Pre-Columbian Paracas and Nasca Cultures in South Peru Based on AMS 14C Dating

      Unkel, Ingmar; Kromer, Bernd; Reindel, Markus; Wacker, Lukas; Wagner, Günther (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2007-01-01)
      The people of the Paracas and Nasca cultures, the creators of the famous geoglyphs, lived in the desert of the southern coast of Peru between about 800 BC and AD 650. The archaeological chronology of these cultures has been based almost exclusively on a sequence of ceramic styles. The absolute dating of some of the style phases was supported by a few radiocarbon dates (Rowe 1967). Here, we present an absolute chronology of the Paracas and Nasca cultures based on 14C dating of more than 100 organic samples from settlement and tomb relics, as well as on material derived from geoglyph sites in the Nasca/Palpa region (south Peru). The main focus has been on Nasca period settlement centers near Palpa, Los Molinos and La Mua, the Paracas period site of Jauranga, and the Initial period site of Pernil Alto. Most of the 14C samples were dated at the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) facility of the ETH Zurich (Switzerland). The targets were produced in the newly built graphitization line at the Heidelberg 14C laboratory (Germany). Clay (adobe) bricks, which are quite a common building material in Peru, were successfully tested to be used for AMS 14C dating of adobe architecture in Peruvian archaeology.
    • Alternative Methods for Cellulose Preparation for AMS Measurement

      Němec, Mojmir; Wacker, Lukas; Hajdas, Irka; Gäggeler, Heinz (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2010-01-01)
      The main methods applied to clean plant material for radiocarbon dating are not compound-specific and generally remove only the easily exchangeable components by an acid-base-acid sequence and additional optional steps like Soxhlet extraction to remove resins and oxidative bleaching with NaClO2. The products are normally clean enough for standard 14C measurement, but in some cases it is desirable to have pure cellulose, which remains unchanged and immobile over longer time ranges, better representing the original plant material. In this work, 2 more compound-specific but still simple methods were tested to separate the cellulose from wood. The viscose method is based on the xanthification process used in the textile industry, where the alkali-cellulose with CS2 forms a soluble cellulose xanthate, which is then extracted and cellulose is recovered. The second procedure is based on the wood/cellulose dissolution in ionic liquid 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride [BMIM]Cl, when the dissolved cellulose could be precipitated again by simply adding a water-acetone mixture. This process was recently reported, but still not used in sample preparation procedures for 14C dating.
    • Anomalous Radiocarbon Ages Found in Campanian Ignimbrite Deposit of the Mediterranean Deep-Sea Core CT85-5

      Hajdas, Irka; Taricco, Carla; Bonani, Georges; Beer, Jürg; Bernasconi, Stefano M.; Wacker, Lukas (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2011-12-16)
      A detailed radiocarbon chronology has been established for the deep-sea core CT85-5 from the Tyrrhenian Sea. This chronology, which is based on the analysis of foraminifera shells, shows a set of reversed 14C ages for sediments deposited during the eruption of the Campanian Ignimbrite (~40 ka cal BP). The anomalous young 14C ages coincide with elevated concentrations of 10Be measured in the same core. Although reversals in 14C ages have been previously found in other records at 40 ka cal BP, such extreme changes have not been observed elsewhere. The enhancement in 14C concentration in CT85-5 sediments associated with the Campanian Ignimbrite is equivalent to an apparent age ~15 ka younger than the age for the sediments deposited shortly before the eruption. Here, we present consistent results of repeated measurements showing no analytical problems that can explain the observed rapid changes in 14C of this particular record.
    • Dating Bones near the Limit of the Radiocarbon Dating Method: Study Case Mammoth from Niederweningen, ZH Switzerland

      Hajdas, Irka; Michczyński, Adam; Bonani, Georges; Wacker, Lukas; Furrer, Heinz (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Preparation of bone material for radiocarbon dating is still a subject of investigation. In the past, the most problematic ages appeared to be the very old bones, i.e. those with ages close to the limit of the dating method. Development of preparative methods requires sufficient amounts of bone material as well as the possibility of verification of the ages. In the peat section at Niederweningen, ZH Switzerland, numerous bones of mammoth and other animals were found in the late 19th century. The first accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon ages of those bones from 1890/1891 excavations placed the age between 33,000 and 35,000 BP. The excavations in 2003/2004 provided additional material for 14C dating. An age of 45,870 +/- 1080 BP was obtained on base (NaOH step) cleaned gelatin from mammoth bone, which was very close to the age of 45,430 +/- 1020 BP obtained for the peat layer that buried the mammoths. The 14C age of gelatin cleaned using the ultrafiltration method obtained in this study, 45,720 +/- 710 BP, is in a very good agreement with the previously obtained results. Moreover, the study shows that 3 pretreatment methods (base+Longin, Longin+ultrafiltration, and base+Longin+ultrafiltration) give ages consistent with each other and with the age of the peat section.
    • Optimization of the Graphitization Process at AGE-1

      Němec, Mojmir; Wacker, Lukas; Gäggeler, Heinz (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2010-01-01)
      The reaction conditions for the graphitization of CO2 with hydrogen were optimized for a fast production of high-quality carbon samples for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurement. The iron catalyst in use is first oxidized by heating with air to remove possible carbon and other impurities and then after evacuation reduced back to iron with hydrogen in several flushing steps to remove any iron oxide. The optimum conditions for a fast graphitization reaction were experimentally determined by changing the reaction temperatures and the H2/CO2 ratio. The resulting graphite samples were measured by AMS to find the smallest isotopic changes (13C) at a minimum of molecular fragment formation (13CH current). The improvements are based on thermodynamic data and are explained with Baur-Glaessner diagrams.
    • Roman Ruins as an Experiment for Radiocarbon Dating of Mortar

      Hajdas, Irka; Trumm, Jürgen; Bonani, Georges; Biechele, Carol; Maurer, Mantana; Wacker, Lukas (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      The remains of Vindonissa, the Roman legionary camp in Switzerland, have been the subject of extensive archaeological studies. Knowledge of the building time plays a role in reconstructions of the history of this site. We radiocarbon dated mortar samples selected from one of the Roman monuments (Westtor) as well as a nearby Medieval monastery. 14C ages obtained on the first fraction and second fraction of very short dissolution appear close to the expected Roman age of ~2000 BP, while the monastery is dated to historic times, after AD 1308.