• Radiocarbon dating, mineralogy, and isotopic composition of hackberry endocarps from the Neolithic site of Aşıklı Höyük, central Turkey

      Quade, J.; Li, S.; Stiner, M.C.; Clark, A.E.; Mentzer, S.M.; Özbaşaran, M. (Tree-Ring Society, 2014)
      Carbonate is abundant in many Neolithic tells and is a potentially useful archive for dating and climate reconstruction. In this paper, we focus on the mineralogy, radiocarbon dating, and stable isotope systematics of carbonate in hackberry endocarps. Hackberry fruits and seeds are edible in fresh and stored forms, and they were consumed in large quantities in many Neolithic sites in the Near East, including the site of our study, Aşıkli Höyük in central Anatolia, an Aceramic Neolithic tell occupied from about 9.4 to > 10.3 BP (7.4 to > 8.3 BCE). Detailed 14C age control provided by archaeological charcoal permits a test of the fidelity in 14C dating of hackberry endocarps. Modern endocarps and leaves yield fraction modern 14C values of 1.050–1.066, consistent with levels present in the atmosphere when sampled in 2009. On the other hand, archaeological endocarps yield consistently younger ages than associated charcoal by ca. 130 14C years (ca. 220 calendar years) for samples about 10,000 years old. We speculate this is caused by the slight addition of calcite or recrystallization to calcite in the endocarp, as detected by scanning electron microscopy. Subtle addition or replacement of calcite by primary aragonite is not widely recognized in the 14C community, even though similar effects are reported from other natural carbonates such as shell carbonate. This small (but consistent) level of contamination supports the usefulness of endocarps in dating where other materials like charcoal are lacking. Before dating, however, hackberries should be carefully screened for mineralogical preservation and context. We examined the carbon and oxygen isotopic systematics of the fossil endocarps to try to establish potential source areas for harvesting. Most of the hackberries are enriched in 18O compared to local water sources, indicating that they were drawing on highly evaporated soil water, rather than the local (perched and regional) water table sampled in our study. Isotopic evidence therefore suggests that most but not all of the hackberries were harvested from nearby mesas well above the local streams and seeps fed by the water table.
    • The Interaction of Climate Change and Agency in the Collapse of Civilizations c. 2300–2000 BC

      Wiener, M.H. (Tree-Ring Society, 2014)
      Human history has been marked by major episodes of climate change and human response, sometimes accompanied by independent innovations. In the Bronze Age, the sequencing of causes and reactions is dependent in part on dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating. This paper explores the interaction of a major, prolonged desiccation event between c. 2300 and 2000 BC and human agency including migrations, the displacement of trading networks, warfare, the appearance of weapons made of bronze, and the first appearance of sailing vessels in the Mediterranean.
    • Tree Rings and the chronology of ancient Egypt

      Creasman, P.P. (Tree-Ring Society, 2014)
      A fundamental aspect of ancient Egyptian history remains unresolved: chronology. Egyptologists (and researchers in related fields that synchronize their studies with Egypt) currently rely on a variety of insufficiently precise methodologies (king lists, radiocarbon dating, etc.) from which to derive seemingly “absolute” dates. The need for genuine precision has been recognized for a century, as has the potential solution: dendrochronology. This manuscript presents a case for further progress toward the construction of a tree-ring chronology for ancient Egypt.