• Plant Remains and AMS: Dating Climate Change in the Aeolian Islands (Northeastern Sicily) During the 2nd Millennium BC

      Caracuta, V.; Fiorentino, G.; Martinelli, M. C. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Archaeological plant remains, used to establish a reliable chronology by radiocarbon dating, are used here to investigate trends in past rainfall intensity.  The stable carbon isotope ratio in botanic remains depends on environmental conditions during the plant’s life. By comparing the δ13C and 14C of selected plant specimens from 3 protohistoric sites in the Aeolian Archipelago, it is possible to identify short-term changes in the rainfall intensity during the 2nd millennium BC. The climate signals inferred from carbon isotope analyses are compared to pollen data for the region and are found to be consistent with changes in vegetal cover. Finally, the climate signals are integrated with the history of the Aeolian communities and the resilience of settlers is evaluated.
    • Paired Dating of Pith and Outer Edge (Terminus) Samples from Pre-Hispanic Caribbean Wooden Sculptures

      Brock, Fiona; Ostapkowicz, Joanna; Bronk Ramsey, Christopher; Wiedenhoeft, Alex; Cartwright, Caroline (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Radiocarbon dating of historical and archaeological wood can be complicated, sometimes involving issues of “inbuilt” age in slow-growing woods, and/or the possibility of reuse or long delays between felling and use of the wood. Terminus dates can be provided by dating the sapwood, or the outermost edge of heartwood, while a date from the pith can give an indication of the first years of growth. A sequence of samples from specific points within the bole can be used to determine the growth rate of the tree. Such a combined dating strategy is particularly useful in cross-referencing dates from a single piece, better placing it in its chronological context. This paper reports paired or multiple dates from 11 wooden sculptures dated as part of the Pre-Hispanic Caribbean Sculptural Arts in Wood project, which studied 66 wooden artifacts attributed to the pre-colonial Taíno, the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean’s Greater Antilles. The calibrated ages of the pieces published here range from ~AD 700–1500, indicating that the Taíno were producing elaborate sculptures much earlier than previously thought. The paired or multiple dates from these carvings confirmed the accuracy of the results, and were also used to construct a growth rate model of what was expected to be a slow-growing species (Guaiacum sp.). This model demonstrates that the boles used to create the sculptures grew on average 1 cm every 6–13 yr.
    • Preliminary Radiocarbon Analyses of Contemporaneous and Archaeological Wood from the Ansanto Valley (Southern Italy)

      Capano, Manuela; Marzaioli, Fabio; Passariello, Isabella; Pignatelli, Olivia; Martinelli, Nicoletta; Gigli, Stefania; Gennarelli, Ida; De Cesare, Nicola; Terrasi, Filippo (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      The Ansanto Valley (southern Italy) is characterized by hydrothermal phenomena, with volcanic gas emissions arising from some vents. In the 1st millennium BC, a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Mephitis was built but later destroyed by landslides in the valley. During archaeological excavations in the 1950s, many items were found including wooden artifacts, preserved thanks to the imbibition and subsequent mineralization of the wood tissues due to the gas emissions. Radiocarbon dating of these objects is underway at CIRCE (Centre for Isotopic Research on Cultural and Environmental Heritage), in Caserta, Italy. Unfortunately, 2 main problems arise in dating these materials. The first is possible fossil dilution caused by the CO2 emitted from the nearby volcanic vents, which could affect the trees of the valley and also the archaeological materials. In order to determine the magnitude of the fossil dilution in the area, 14C measurements were performed on contemporaneous wood cored from 2 oak trees growing near the vents. 14C values measured in these samples confirmed the presence of a strong fossil dilution in the Ansanto Valley. The second problem is the restoration that the objects underwent during the last century (mostly by using modern organic substances). To investigate suitable pretreatment procedures for removing the restoration materials from the archaeological findings, contemporaneous wood was also analyzed. The wood of trees from the Ansanto Valley and from a distant village (unaffected by the Ansanto fossil dilution) were submitted to the same restoration process applied to the archaeological artifacts, followed by an “artificial weathering” process.  Some archaeological materials were also tested for the removal of restoration materials. We subjected the artificially aged trees and the archaeological samples to different chemical processes. Here, we present the results of these processes. Almost all methods turned out to be suitable for the contemporaneous wood, while the results for the archaeological samples remain uncertain. For this reason, more tests are needed, concerning the “artificial weathering,” the restoration, and the chemical procedure for removing the consolidation materials.
    • Neolithic Dispersal in Far Northeast Europe: Ways and Chronology

      Karmanov, Victor N.; Zaretskaya, Natalia E.; Lychagina, Evgenia L. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      By analyzing archaeological evidence and radiocarbon dates, we studied the Neolithization of Far Northeast Europe (Russian Perm’ region, Komi Republic, and Nenets autonomous district). Our study shows that this process in the eastern European forest zone was rather ambiguous. Taking into account the periodicity of settling and short duration of residence here, the term “Neolithization” in its traditional sense cannot be applied to some territories in this region. For instance, the emergence of ceramics—the most important feature of Neolithization here—did not affect considerably the way of life of the ancient population, which continued the traditions of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers well into the Early Neolithic. Such attributes as heat treatment of clay paste and siliceous rocks for changing physical features of natural materials, bifacial knapping, and construction of subterranean dwellings represent the archaeological evidence of Neolithization in the region.
    • New 14C Dates for the Early Natufian of el-Wad Terrace, Mount Carmel, Israel

      Weinstein-Evron, Mina; Yeshurun, Reuven; Kaufman, Daniel; Eckmeier, Eileen; Boaretto, Elisabetta (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      The Natufian culture of the southern Levant played an integral role in the transition from simple hunter-gatherers to food-producing societies of the Neolithic, but the major Natufian hamlets are currently poorly dated. Moreover, none of these complex, continuously occupied base camps have delivered an adequate number of dates to enable an in-depth delineation of intra-Natufian developments. This paper presents the first results of our dating program at el-Wad terrace, Mount Carmel (Israel), one of the major Natufian hamlets of the “core area” of this culture. Thirteen accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon age determinations were obtained from 46 bone (both ungulate and human) and charcoal samples, originating in Early Natufian living surfaces, dwellings, and burials. The obtained dates are largely in agreement with the cultural affiliation of the samples (13–15 kyr cal BP). Two series of dates from different locations show good agreement with the stratigraphy. The ages of the burials clearly point to their being younger than the living surfaces seemingly associated with them. Presently, no burials may be linked with the major architectural phase of Early Natufian el-Wad. Our ongoing dating program and the processing of additional samples from refined contexts will help shed important light on the initial phases of the Natufian culture, habitation duration, intensity, and continuity, as well as the relationships between site features and stratigraphy.
    • New Archaeological, Paleoenvironmental, and 14C Data from the Šventoji Neolithic Sites, NW Lithuania

      Piličiauskas, Gytis; Mažeika, Jonas; Gaidamavičius, Andrejus; Vaikutienė, Giedrė; Bitinas, Albertas; Skuratovič, Žana; Stančikaitė, Miglė (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Archaeological, geological, and paleoecological investigations supported by radiocarbon dating enabled us to present a reconstruction of chronologically based paleoenvironmental and human activity changes in the Šventoji region, NW Lithuania, during the period 4000–800 cal BC. In addition, we describe the main stages of the Late Glacial and Holocene periods in the area. The Baltic Ice Lake regression was succeeded by a terrestrial period until the Littorina Sea maximal transgression at 5700–5400 cal BC. A marine bay with brackish water was transformed into a freshwater lagoon before the oldest archaeological evidence of human presence, i.e. 4000/3700 cal BC. However, the presence of Cerealia type and Plantago lanceolata pollen dating back to about 4400–4300 cal BC suggests earlier farming activities in the area. Pollen analyses show the minor but continuous role of cereal cultivation after 3250 cal BC. Due to the predominance of the boggy landscape in the immediate vicinity of the Šventoji sites, agricultural fields were situated further away from the sites themselves. Exploitation of remote areas of the freshwater basin by diverse fishing gear was proven by the discovery of a new fishing site, Šventoji 41 (2900–2600 cal BC). This finding together with data of previous research suggest a complex and elaborate coastal economy involving seal hunting and year-round freshwater fishing during the 3rd millennium cal BC. A decline in human activity is seen in the pollen diagram after 1800 cal BC, which could be due to significant environmental changes, including overgrowth of the freshwater lagoon basin with vegetation.
    • Plaster Characterization at the PPNB Site of Yiftahel (Israel) Including the Use of 14C: Implications for Plaster Production, Preservation, and Dating

      Poduska, Kristin M.; Regev, Lior; Berna, Francesco; Mintz, Eugenia; Milevski, Ianir; Khalaily, Hamudi; Weiner, Steve; Boaretto, Elisabetta (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      The Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) site of Yiftahel, Israel, contains abundant plaster floors. We surveyed the states of preservation of the plasters using an infrared spectroscopic assay that characterizes the extent of disorder of the atoms in the calcite crystal lattice. We identified the 3 best-preserved plaster samples that had disorder signatures most similar to modern plaster. We then studied the surface layers, fine-grained matrices, and large aggregates of these samples using micromorphology, Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) microscopy, stable carbon and radiocarbon concentrations. Even though some of the plaster components have a geogenic appearance in micromorphology slides and in FTIR spectra, the 14C analyses show that all components were exposed to high temperatures and as a result were equilibrated with the 14C content of the atmosphere ~10,000 yr ago. This implies that the plasters at Yiftahel were produced entirely from heat-altered calcite. We also show that these plasters have undergone significant diagenesis. The plaster component with the most disordered atomic signature, and hence the most similar in this respect to modern plaster, did indeed produce a 14C date close to the expected age.
    • Potential of the Radiocarbon Method for Dating Known Historical Events: The Case of Yaroslavl, Russia

      Engovatova, A. V.; Zaitseva, G. I.; Dobrovolskaya, M. V.; Burova, N. D. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      We address here the methodological question of potentially using the radiocarbon method for dating historical events. The archaeological investigations in Yaroslavl (central Russia) provide an example. The Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IARAS) has been conducting excavations at the site for many years, and many archaeological complexes dating to different times have come to light. The most interesting of these are connected with the founding of the city by Prince Yaroslav the Wise in AD 1010 (the first fortifications) and with the devastation of the city by the Tatar Mongols in 1238 (evidenced by sanitary mass burials of Yaroslavl’s inhabitants). We have conducted a certain experiment, a “reverse” investigation of the chronology of the events. The dates of the events are known from chronicles, archaeological materials, and dendrochronological data for several assemblages. We have taken a large series of 14C samples from the same assemblages, dated them in 2 different laboratories, and compared the data. The accuracy of the 14C dates proved to be compatible with dates found via the archaeological material. The article shows the potential for 14C dating of archaeological assemblages connected with known historical events. The results of the research conducted by the authors serve as an additional argument for the broader use of the 14C dating method in studies of archaeological sites related to the Middle Ages in Russia.
    • Obituary: Jean-François Saliège (1943–2012)

      Zazzo, Antoine (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    • On the Resolution of 14C Dating Anomalies: Case Studies from New World Archaeology

      Taylor, R. E.; Southon, John (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      We submit that anomalies in radiocarbon data in archaeological studies should be viewed positively as a stimulus to undertake further targeted research. Additional analyses to resolve anomalies have the potential to provide important insights into heretofore unstudied or incompletely understood depositional or geochemical processes affecting 14C values, particularly in certain types of samples and samples from certain types of environments. We consider 2 major categories or sources of 14C dating anomalies that we posit are mostly responsible for the vast majority of problematic 14C results: anomalous sample contexts and anomalous sample composition. Two additional sources of 14C anomalies are much more rarely encountered. Six case studies taken from New World archaeological studies are briefly presented to provide examples of where questions concerning the validity of 14C measurements generated additional and ultimately more accurate understandings of temporal relationships. AMS-based 14C measurement technology has rendered detailed investigations of 14C anomalies routinely feasible.
    • Preface from the Guest Editors

      Boaretto, Elisabetta; Rebollo Franco, Noemi (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    • Problems in the Measurement, Calibration, Analysis, and Communication of Radiocarbon Dates (with Special Reference to the Prehistory of the Aegean World)

      Wiener, Malcolm H. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Radiocarbon dating encounters (1) problems of reservoir effects and regional/seasonal variation affecting the chronological reliability of measurements, (2) problems of calibration of measurements via comparison with tree segments of known dendrochronological dates, (3) problems of statistical inference with respect to the data pre- and post-calibration, and (4) problems of the analysis and communication of information to archaeologists, historians, and other interested parties. This paper considers the special characteristics of each of the problem areas indicated in order to improve communication between 14C scientists and the disciplines of archaeology, anthropology, and ancient history.
    • Absolute Dating (14C and OSL) of the Formation of Coversand Ridges Occupied by Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherers in NW Belgium

      Crombé, Philippe; Van Strydonck, Mark; Boudin, Mathieu; Van den Brande, Tess; Derese, Cilia; Vandenberghe, Dimitri A. G.; Van den Haute, Peter; Court-Picon, Mona; Verniers, Jacques; Gelorini, Vanessa; et al. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Based on radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) results obtained in the last 5 yr, this paper discusses the absolute chronology of the formation of one of the largest sand dunes within NW Belgium, the Great Ridge of Maldegem-Stekene. Multiproxy analysis of 6 sedimentary sequences points to a complex formation history covering the entire Late Glacial. Dry phases, characterized by eolian deflation and sedimentation, alternated with wet phases in which numerous mostly shallow dune slacks were filled with freshwater. The latter reached their highest water level during the first half of the Allerød, attracting both animals (e.g. European elk) and humans (Federmesser hunter-gatherers). Near the end of the Allerød, all dune slacks finally disappeared as they were filled in with windblown sand (“coversand”), likely forcing prehistoric hunter-gatherers to leave the area.
    • 14C Marine Reservoir Variability in Herbivores and Deposit-Feeding Gastropods from an Open Coastline, Papua New Guinea

      Petchey, Fiona; Ulm, Sean; David, Bruno; McNiven, Ian J.; Asmussen, Brit; Tomkins, Helen; Richards, Thomas; Rowe, Cassandra; Leavesley, Matthew; Mandui, Herman; et al. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Herbivorous and deposit-feeding gastropods are a major component of archaeological shell middens worldwide. They provide a wealth of information about subsistence, economy, environment, and climate, but are generally considered to be less than ideal for radiocarbon dating because they can ingest sediment while they graze, inadvertently consuming terrestrial carbon in the process. However, few studies of 14C activity in herbivores or deposit-feeding gastropods have been conducted into this diverse range of animals that inhabit many environmental niches. Here, we present results investigating 14C variability in shells belonging to the families Strombidae and Potamididae from the Bogi 1 archaeological site, Caution Bay, southern coastal Papua New Guinea (PNG). These shells make up 39.3% of the shell MNI [minimum number of individuals] in the excavation units studied and some of these species are the most common taxa of neighboring sites. It would therefore be advantageous to establish if there are any 14C offsets associated with such animals, and identify those that can give reliable calendar ages. Our methodology combines a high-resolution excavation protocol, selection of short-lived samples identified to species level, and a tri-isotope approach using 14C, δ13C, and δ18O to evaluate the source of variability in shells. Our results indicate that considerable variation exists between different species of Strombidae with some inhabiting muddier environments that act as sinks for limestone-derived sediments with depleted 14C content. The magnitude of variation is, however, overshadowed by that measured in the mudwhelk, Cerithidea largillierti, which has the largest spread in 14C of any shellfish studied so far at Caution Bay. This animal ingests sediment within the estuary that contains 14C derived from both enriched and depleted sources.
    • 14C Chronology of Burial Grounds of the Andronovo Period (Middle Bronze Age) in Baraba Forest Steppe, Western Siberia

      Molodin, V. I.; Marchenko, Z. V.; Kuzmin, Y. V.; Grishin, A. E.; Van Strydonck, M.; Orlova, L. A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      This paper focuses on the chronology of Middle Bronze Age complexes in the Baraba forest steppe (western Siberia). Three sites were radiocarbon dated, Stary Tartas 4, Sopka 2, and Tartas 1. The Late Krotovo culture was dated to the 18–19th centuries BC, the Andronovo complex (Fedorovo stage) to the 15–18th centuries BC, and the Mixed Andronovo complex dated to the 15–17th centuries BC. These values are some 300–500 yr older than previously thought, and the new results are consistent with 14C dates of the Andronovo cultural complex in northern Eurasia. Based on these data, the 15th century BC is the upper chronological limit of the Andronovo period.
    • A Merovingian Surprise: Early Medieval Radiocarbon Dates on Cremated Bone (Borsbeek, Belgium)

      De Mulder, Guy; Van Strydonck, Mark; Annaert, Rica; Boudin, Mathieu (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Radiocarbon dating of cremated bone is a well-established practice in the study of prehistoric cremation cemeteries since the introduction of the method in the late 1990s. 14C dates on the Late Bronze Age urnfield and Merovingian cemetery at Borsbeek in Belgium shed new light on Merovingian funerary practices. Inhumation was the dominant funerary rite in this period in the Austrasian region. In the Scheldt Valley, however, some cremations are known, termed Brandgrubengräber, which consist of the deposition of a mix of cremated bone and the remnants from the pyre in the grave pit. 14C dates from Borsbeek show that other ways of deposition of cremated bone in this period existed. In both cases, bones were selected from the pyre and wrapped in an organic container before being buried. Recent excavation and 14C dates from another Merovingian cemetery at Broechem confirmed the information about the burial rites and chronology from Borsbeek. This early Medieval practice of cremation rituals seems an indication of new arrivals of colonists from northern regions where cremation remained the dominant funerary rite. Another case at Borsbeek shows the reuse of a Late Bronze Age urn in the Merovingian period. This practice is known from Viking burials in Scandinavia, but was not ascertained until now in Flanders.
    • AMS 14C Dates and Major Element Composition of Glass Shards of Late Pleistocene Tephras on Tanegashima Island, Southern Japan

      Okuno, Mitsuru; Torii, Masayuki; Naruo, Hideto; Saito-Kokubu, Yoko; Kobayashi, Tetsuo (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Four late Pleistocene tephra layers—Tane I (Tn1), II (Tn2), III (Tn3), and IV (Tn4) in ascending order—are intercalated between widespread tephras, Kikai-Tozurahara (K-Tz: 95 ka) and Aira-Tn (AT: 30 cal kBP), on Tanegashima Island, in southern Japan. Paleolithic ruins such as the Yokomine C and Tatikiri archaeological sites were excavated from the loam layer between the Tn4 and Tn3 tephras. To refine the chronological framework on the island, we conducted accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating for 2 paleosol and 6 charcoal samples related with the late Pleistocene tephras and the Yokomine C archaeological site. The obtained 14C dates are consistent with the stratigraphy in calendar years, 33 cal kBP for Tn4, 40 cal kBP for Tn3, and 50 cal kBP for Tn2 and Tn1. The charcoal dates from Yokomine C, 32–38 cal kBP, not only constrain the age of Tn4 and Tn3 ashes, but also serve as a possible date for the site. We also measured the major element compositions of volcanic glass shards with EDS-EPMA to characterize these tephras. Although we could not find a possible correlative for Tn3 and Tn4 ashes using major element oxides of the glass shards, i.e. 75–76 wt% in SiO2, the glass chemistry obtained in this study will be valuable in correlating these tephras with their source volcanoes in the near future.
    • 14C Dates and Spatial Statistics: Modeling Intrasite Spatial Dynamics of Urnfield Cemeteries in Belgium Using Case Study of Destelbergen Cemetery

      De Reu, Jeroen; De Mulder, Guy; Van Strydonck, Mark; Boudin, Mathieu; Bourgeois, Jean (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      The possibility of radiocarbon dating on cremated bones stimulated a systematic 14C dating project investigating the chronology of Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age urnfield cemeteries in Belgium. The growing amount of 14C dates on these cremated remains led to new insights into the chronology, development, and disappearance of the urnfield phenomenon. Consequently, ideas about cultural and historical processes need to be modified. Also, the internal chronology of the cemeteries is much more complex than previously thought, stimulating the need for techniques to analyze and visualize the internal development of an individual burial site. The application of centrographic methods like the mean center, standard distance circle, and standard deviational ellipse illustrates the possibilities for analyzing the internal chronology of the cemeteries based on the available 14C dates.
    • Characterization of Contexts for Radiocarbon Dating: Results from the Early Iron Age at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel

      Toffolo, Michael; Maeir, Aren M.; Chadwick, Jeffrey R.; Boaretto, Elisabetta (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      The reliability of a radiocarbon date depends in part on the degree of precision and accuracy of the measurement. While analytical precision and accuracy can be improved by careful sample cleaning procedures and high laboratory standards, accuracy also depends upon the certainty to which the sample can be attributed to a specific material culture or event in the past. This might be questionable when based only on partial archaeological information. As a consequence, it is very difficult to date clear-cut chronological transitions within specific periods. This issue is particularly apparent in the case of Mediterranean Iron Age chronology, where 2 somewhat different perspectives are proposed, the “High Chronology” and the “Low Chronology,” which differ by ~50 yr. Here, we present the preliminary results of an ongoing project that aims to characterize Iron Age archaeological contexts from the eastern Mediterranean, and to identify those contexts that are suitable for dating, in order to improve the accuracy of 14C dates. This study involves the analysis of sediments by means of FTIR spectrometry, soil micromorphology, phytolith and phosphate extraction, all of which provide insights into the site-formation and postdepositional processes at the different sites under investigation. These techniques, applied at Tell es-Safi/Gath (Israel), enabled us to better identify a secure context for dating.
    • Characterization of Different Chemical Procedures for 14C Dating of Buried, Cremated, and Modern Bone Samples at CIRCE

      Passariello, Isabella; Simone, Pasquale; Tandoh, Joseph; Marzaioli, Fabio; Capano, Manuela; De Cesare, Nicola; Terrasi, Filippo (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Bone chemical treatment for radiocarbon dating has drawn the attention of different laboratories because dates of bones and charcoals found in the same layer often disagree. Excluding diet-related reservoir effects, this observation is likely due to a nonoptimized procedure of contaminant removal from the extracted collagen. In this study, systematic work on the bone chemical treatment was performed with the aim to investigate the effect of each known procedure (i.e. AAA, GEL, and ULTR) on the collagen used for 14C dating. Isolation and purification of lipids from animal tissues were performed to estimate eventual offsets induced by the applied methods, by comparing the 14C ages of lipids with those of collagen. Moreover, cremated bones were treated for the first time at CIRCE. Measured 14C isotopic ratios on these samples were used to evaluate the accuracy of the applied procedure by comparing against the results for charcoals found in the same archaeological context as the bones.