Radiocarbon is the main international journal of record for research articles and date lists relevant to 14C and other radioisotopes and techniques used in archaeological, geophysical, oceanographic, and related dating.

This archive provides access to Radiocarbon Volumes 1-54 (1959-2012).

As of 2016, Radiocarbon is published by Cambridge University Press. The journal is published quarterly. Radiocarbon also publishes conference proceedings and monographs on topics related to fields of interest. Visit Cambridge Online for new Radiocarbon content and to submit manuscripts.

ISSN: 0033-8222


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  • The Marine Radiocarbon Bomb Pulse across the Temperate North Atlantic: A Compilation of Δ14C Time Histories from Arctica islandica Growth Increments

    Scourse, James D.; Wanamaker, Alan D., Jr.; Weidman, Chris; Heinemeier, Jan; Reimer, Paula J.; Butler, Paul G.; Witbaard, Rob; Richardson, Christopher A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-08-17)
    Marine radiocarbon bomb-pulse time histories of annually resolved archives from temperate regions have been underexploited. We present here series of Δ14C excess from known-age annual increments of the long-lived bivalve mollusk Arctica islandica from 4 sites across the coastal North Atlantic (German Bight, North Sea; Tromsø, north Norway; Siglufjordur, north Icelandic shelf; Grimsey, north Icelandic shelf) combined with published series from Georges Bank and Sable Bank (NW Atlantic) and the Oyster Ground (North Sea). The atmospheric bomb pulse is shown to be a step-function whose response in the marine environment is immediate but of smaller amplitude and which has a longer decay time as a result of the much larger marine carbon reservoir. Attenuation is determined by the regional hydrographic setting of the sites, vertical mixing, processes controlling the isotopic exchange of 14C at the air-sea boundary, 14C content of the freshwater flux, primary productivity, and the residence time of organic matter in the sediment mixed layer. The inventories form a sequence from high magnitude-early peak (German Bight) to low magnitude-late peak (Grimsey). All series show a rapid response to the increase in atmospheric Δ14C excess but a slow response to the subsequent decline resulting from the succession of rapid isotopic air-sea exchange followed by the more gradual isotopic equilibration in the mixed layer due to the variable marine carbon reservoir and incorporation of organic carbon from the sediment mixed layer. The data constitute calibration series for the use of the bomb pulse as a high-resolution dating tool in the marine environment and as a tracer of coastal ocean water masses.
  • The Dolmen Kolikho, Western Caucasus: Isotopic Investigation of Funeral Practice and Human Mobility

    Trifonov, V. A.; Zaitseva, G. I.; Van der Plicht, J.; Burova, N. D.; Bogomolov, E. S.; Sementsov, A. A.; Lokhova, O. V. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    We investigated the dolmen known as Kolikho (Black Sea coast, Russia), discovered accidentally in 2008. It is a unique, undisturbed megalithic structure. The burial chamber contains disarticulated human remains from about 70 individuals. Radiocarbon dating shows that the dolmen was in use between roughly the 19th to 13th centuries BC. Strontium isotopes are used to investigate the origin and last residence location of the people buried in the structure.
  • The Chronology of Tell el-Daba: A Crucial Meeting Point of 14C Dating, Archaeology, and Egyptology in the 2nd Millennium BC

    Kutschera, Walter; Bietak, Manfred; Wild, Eva Maria; Bronk Ramsey, Christopher; Dee, Michael; Golser, Robin; Kopetzky, Karin; Stadler, Peter; Steier, Peter; Thanheiser, Ursula; et al. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    Radiocarbon dating at the Tell el-Daba site in the Nile Delta has created an enigma for many years. Despite great efforts, the difference of about 120 yr between the chronology based on 14C dates and the one based on archaeological evidence linked to the Egyptian historical chronology has not been solved. In order to foster open discussions on this discrepancy, we present here the results of 40 14C accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements on short-lived plant material assigned to 14 different phases of the Tell el-Daba excavation, spanning 600 yr (about 2000–1400 BC). On the one hand, the recently established agreement between 14C dates and dynastic Egypt (Bronk Ramsey et al. 2010) makes it unlikely that the problem lies in the 14C dates and/or the Egyptian historical chronology. On the other hand, the extensive archaeological evidence from Tell el-Daba linked to many different cultures in the eastern Mediterranean and to the Egyptian historical chronology provides strong evidence for an absolute chronology shifted by about 120 yr with respect to the 14C dates.
  • The Date of the Minoan Santorini Eruption: Quantifying the “Offset”

    Höflmayer, Felix (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    Despite many recent attempts to settle the dispute concerning the absolute date of the Minoan Santorini eruption, there are still differences between some archaeologists and scientists on the absolute dates and the reliability of radiocarbon dating. The recent publication of over 200 new 14C dates for dynastic Egypt rules out a major flaw in the historical chronology of Egypt and proves the reliability of 14C dating in the Nile Valley. Therefore, the student of Aegean archaeology and eastern Mediterranean interconnections is still confronted with an archaeologically based conventional, or “low,” chronology and a 14C-backed “high” chronology. New 14C determinations from different sites of the Aegean support the high chronology for the Late Minoan (LM) IA, while recent re-evaluation of LM IB determinations are slightly higher but more or less in agreement with archaeological estimations. The present contribution reviews archaeological and scientific data for the LM IA period and argues that a reduced (~30 to 50 yr) offset between archaeological and 14C dates for the Minoan Santorini eruption may be possible, thus offering new perspectives for potential solutions for this problem.
  • Table of Contents

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
  • Table of Contents

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-08-17)
  • Tell Sabi Abyad, Syria: An Interpretation of Stable Isotope Values of Faunal Bone Collagen

    van der Plicht, J.; Akkermans, P. M. M. G.; Buitenhuis, H.; Kaneda, A.; Nieuwenhuyse, O.; Russell, A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    At Tell Sabi Abyad, Syria, radiocarbon dating previously provided a robust chronology for the 7th–early 6th millennium BC, the Late Neolithic. The continuous inhabitation spans the 8.2 ka climate event. This chronology has been used here in a study of stable isotope (13C and 15N) data of animal bones. This is the first isotope study undertaken on material from this area. The results are used to explore diet and therefore animal management practices through the period ~6800–5800 BC. A climatic signal could not be detected in the bone samples.
  • Table of Contents

    McClure, Mark (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-05-04)
  • State Formation in Judah: Biblical Tradition, Modern Historical Theories, and Radiometric Dates at Khirbet Qeiyafa

    Garfinkel, Yosef; Streit, Katharina; Ganor, Saar; Hasel, Michael G. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    During the past 30 yr, the biblical narrative relating to the establishment of a kingdom in Judah has been much debated. Were David and Solomon historical rulers of an urbanized state-level society in the early 10th century BC, or was this level of social development reached only at the end of the 8th century BC, 300 yr later? Recent excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the first early Judean city to be dated by radiocarbon, clearly indicate a well-planned, fortified city in Judah as early as the late 11th to early 10th centuries BC. This new data has far-reaching implications for archaeology, history, and biblical studies.
  • Rudjer Bošković Institute Radiocarbon Measurements XVII

    Horvatinčić, Nada; Krajcar Bronić, Ines; Obelić, Bogomil; Barešić, Jadranka (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-05-04)
    This paper presents dating results of geological (speleothems, tufa, soil, and sediment), biological (mollusks and botanical), as well as hydrogeological samples from Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and China. Included are results of samples measured by gas proportional counting (GPC) in the Zagreb lab until abandonment of this technique in 2007, as well as results of several series measured by both GPC and liquid scintillation counting (LSC) methods.
  • 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.
  • Reliability of Nitrogen Content (%N) and Carbon:Nitrogen Atomic Ratios (C:N) as Indicators of Collagen Preservation Suitable for Radiocarbon Dating

    Brock, Fiona; Wood, Rachel; Higham, Thomas F. G.; Ditchfield, Peter; Bayliss, Alex; Bronk Ramsey, Christopher (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    A recent study into prescreening techniques to identify bones suitable for radiocarbon dating from sites known for poor or variable preservation (Brock et al. 2007, 2010a) found that the percent nitrogen (%N) content of whole bone powder was the most reliable indicator of collagen preservation. Measurement of %N is rapid, requires little preparation or material, and is relatively cheap. The technique reduces the risk of needlessly sampling valuable archaeological objects, as well as saving time and money on their unsuccessful pretreatment prior to dating. This method of prescreening is now regularly used at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). In the original study, linear regression analysis of data from 100 bones from 12 Holocene sites across southern England showed that when 0.76% N was chosen as a threshold, 84% of bones were successfully identified as containing sufficient (i.e. 1%) or insufficient (i.e. 1%) collagen for dating. However, it has been observed that for older, Pleistocene bones the failure rate may be higher, possibly due to the presence of more degraded, short-chain proteins that pass through the ultrafilters used in pretreatment, resulting in lower yields. Here, we present linear regression analysis of data from nearly 600 human and animal bones, antlers, and teeth, from a wide range of contexts and ages, to determine whether the 0.76% threshold identified in the previous study is still applicable. The potential of carbon:nitrogen atomic weight ratios (C:N) of whole bone to predict collagen preservation is also discussed.
  • Reconceiving the Chronology of Inca Imperial Expansion

    Ogburn, Dennis Edward (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-08-17)
    The basic chronology of Inca imperial expansion in Andean South America derives from historical accounts from the Spanish Colonial era, but several issues with this traditional chronology have arisen in recent decades. Advances in radiocarbon dating and calibration now give us some ability to refine or rebuild the chronology, and guidelines for obtaining the most useful dates are discussed. Dates recently obtained from the site of Chamical in the southern highlands of Ecuador are evaluated according to those guidelines, and they suggest Inca expansion to the north began 1 to 2 decades earlier than allowed in the traditional chronology. The chronology of Inca expansion presented in the Spanish chronicles is called into question by these and other dates, and by a reconsideration of the nature of sources of Inca history utilized by Spanish writers. Evidence suggests a primary Inca form of recording provincial conquests resulted in lists that were ordered geographically. However, those records were interpreted by colonial writers as being chronologically ordered, which led to written histories of Inca expansion that are not consistent with the actual historical sequence of events. As a result, the preferred approach to building a chronology of Inca expansion should be based on 14C dates, with historical sources used to supplement rather than structure the timeline.
  • Re-Examining Anomalous Early Dates of Settlement in Leeward Hawai‘i Island

    Carson, Mike T. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-05-04)
    Anomalous dates prior to 1000 yr BP have been reported for near-surface site deposits at Puapua‘a in the dry and rocky zone of leeward (west) Hawai‘i Island, compared to archipelago-wide earliest cultural layers generally in buried contexts 1000–800 yr BP. Redating and closer examination cannot validate these early dates in cultural association. In the thin sedimentary deposits, preserved cultural materials mostly postdate 600–400 yr BP, but some older materials were incorporated into the layer matrix. The results suggest a much shorter extant chronology of human settlement of this particular zone, whereas earliest sites most likely are preserved in different settings of the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Radiocarbon Dating of Pleistocene Fauna and Flora from Starunia, SW Ukraine

    Kuc, Tadeusz; Różański, Kazimierz; Kotarba, Maciej J.; Goslar, Tomasz; Kubiak, Henryk (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-05-04)
    New attempts are presented to determine the age of large Pleistocene mammals excavated at Starunia, ~130 km southeast of Lviv, Ukraine. This remarkable discovery made at the beginning of the 20th century included a complete carcass of woolly rhinoceros (No. 2), fragments of 3 woolly rhinoceroses (Nos. 1, 3, and 4) and remnants of numerous specimens of other fossil fauna and flora. Although attempts to date paleontological findings from Starunia site go back to the early 1970s, the results obtained before 2006 are somewhat misleading, mostly due to unresolved contamination problems. Comprehensive cleaning of the samples adopted in the framework of this study was aimed at removal of 2 potential sources of contamination: (i) radiocarbon-free hydrocarbons abundant at the burial site; and (ii) allochthonous organic materials containing contemporary carbon that were used in the past during preservation of the dated specimens. Two types of samples have been analyzed for their 14C content in the framework of the present study: (i) fragments of bones and teeth collected from specimens stored or exposed in the Natural History museums in Lviv and Kraków; and (ii) samples of terrestrial macrofossils retrieved from sediment cores obtained during the 2007–2008 field campaigns in the Starunia area. 14C analyses of collagen were supplemented by measurements of its elemental C/N ratio and 13C/12C and 15N/14N isotope ratios. Three 14C dates obtained for rhinoceros No. 2 span the age range from 35.3 to 40.0 ka BP, in agreement with the minimum age estimated from macrofossils. The mean value of 37.7 ± 1.7 ka BP falls in the range of ages reported for big Pleistocene mammals from other locations in Europe. The bones of rhinoceros No. 3, which were found in close vicinity to those of rhinoceros No. 2, reveal a 14C age of 36.7 ± 0.6 ka BP. The δ15N and δ13C values obtained for collagen extracted from bones and teeth belonging to rhinoceroses Nos. 1, 2, and 3 are in a broad agreement with analogous literature data for large Pleistocene mammals found in other sites in Europe, North America, and Siberia.
  • Radiocarbon Dating of the Early Bronze Age Cemetery at Arano, Verona, Northern Italy

    Valzolgher, Erio; Meadows, John; Salzani, Paola; Salzani, Luciano (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    Seventeen of the 73 individuals buried in the Early Bronze Age (EBA) cemetery at Arano di Cellore di Illasi, near Verona, northern Italy, were radiocarbon dated by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). Bayesian modeling of the calibrated dates suggests that the cemetery was probably used over several generations mainly within the first 2 centuries of the 2nd millennium cal BC. Burial activity was therefore mainly restricted to within the EBA I B/EBA I C of the north Italian Bronze Age chronology. An isolated burial, found ~90 m northwest of the cemetery, may date to the same period.
  • Radiocarbon Dates from Jar and Coffin Burials of the Cardamom Mountains Reveal a Previously Unrecorded Mortuary Ritual in Cambodia’s Late- to Post-Angkor Period (15th–17th Centuries AD)

    Beavan, Nancy; Halcrow, Sian; McFadgen, Bruce; Hamilton, Derek; Buckley, Brendan; Sokha, Tep; Shewan, Louise; Sokha, Ouk; Fallon, Stewart; Miksic, John; et al. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-05-04)
    We present the first radiocarbon dates from previously unrecorded, secondary burials in the Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. The mortuary ritual incorporates nautical tradeware ceramic jars and log coffins fashioned from locally harvested trees as burial containers, which were set out on exposed rock ledges at 10 sites in the eastern Cardamom Massif. The suite of 28 14C ages from 4 of these sites (Khnorng Sroal, Phnom Pel, Damnak Samdech, and Khnang Tathan) provides the first estimation of the overall time depth of the practice. The most reliable calendar date ranges from the 4 sites reveals a highland burial ritual unrelated to lowland Khmer culture that was practiced from cal AD 1395 to 1650. The time period is concurrent with the 15th century decline of Angkor as the capital of the Khmer kingdom and its demise about AD 1432, and the subsequent shift of power to new Mekong trade ports such as Phnom Penh, Udong, and Lovek. We discuss the Cardamom ritual relative to known funerary rituals of the pre- to post-Angkorian periods, and to similar exposed jar and coffin burial rituals in Mainland and Island Southeast Asia.
  • Radiocarbon Dating of Calcined Bones: Insights from Combustion Experiments Under Natural Conditions

    Zazzo, Antoine; Saliège, Jean-François; Lebon, Matthieu; Lepetz, Sébastien; Moreau, Christophe (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    Radiocarbon dating of the carbonate remaining in calcined bones is widely regarded as a viable alternative to date skeletal remains in situations where collagen is no longer present. However, anomalously low δ13C values measured in calcined bones prompted questions about the origin of the carbon used for dating. The goal of this study was to quantify the magnitude of carbon isotope exchange between bone carbonate and environmental CO2 for bones calcined under natural conditions. Four archaeological bones ranging in age between the Neolithic and the Medieval period were combusted on a separate open fire for up to 4 hr and subsamples of calcined bones were taken every hour. All the bones experienced a significant increase in IRSF values and decrease in carbonate content and δ13C values. 14C ages measured in the carbonate fraction of well-calcined bones indicate that 67 ± 3% to 91 ± 8% of the carbon present in bone carbonate was replaced by carbon from the atmosphere of combustion. This finding confirms previous results obtained under laboratory conditions and has serious implications for 14C dating of calcined bones found in archaeological contexts. The 14C age obtained on a calcined bone will only reflect the true age of the bone sample if the age difference between the bone and the charcoal can be neglected. Our results show also that δ13C values of calcined bones can be used to estimate the degree of C exchange and control for postburial diagenetic alteration.
  • Radiocarbon Chronology of the Shigir and Gorbunovo Archaeological Bog Sites, Middle Urals, Russia

    Zaretskaya, Natalia E.; Hartz, Sönke; Terberger, Thomas; Savchenko, Svetlana N.; Zhilin, Mikhail G. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    Two well-known archaeological sites, the peat bogs of Shigir and Gorbunovo (Middle Urals, Russia), have been radiocarbon dated (61 conventional and accelerator mass spectrometry [AMS] dates from various natural and artifact samples). For the first time, a detailed chronology of Early to Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic occupation for this region has been obtained, and a paleoenvironmental history reconstructed. Based on these results, we propose that the Mesolithic settlement of the Middle Urals region started in the early Holocene, at the same time as in central and eastern Europe.
  • Radiocarbon Chronology of the Schurovo Burial Mound Cremation Complex (Viking Times, Middle Oka River, Russia)

    Syrovatko, A. S.; Zaretskaya, N. E.; Troshina, A. A.; Panin, A. V. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    Excavation of the Schurovo archaeological site, located on a ~12-m river terrace, has revealed 3 occupation periods: 1) as a dwelling site of the Migration period (4th–5th centuries AD); 2) as local burial mounds (termed “houses of the dead” in Russian); 3) and as a ground burial period, which left a cremation layer directly on the ground and is now covered by the Little Ice Age overbank alluvium. The latter 2 periods contain few artifacts, which makes radiocarbon dating more appropriate for establishing their chronology. The burial mounds were dated to the mid-6th to mid-7th centuries AD. The accumulation of colluvium in mound ditches points to a rather long (at least a century) pause between the construction of burial mounds and the appearance of ground burials. Dates from the cremation layer (ground burials) span a wide range from the 8th to 13th centuries AD. As the younger dates do not correspond to regional historical and archaeological contexts, we believe them to be “rejuvenated” due to their long exposure before burial to the young alluvium. The ground burials are dated to the mid-8th to mid-10th centuries AD, the so-called “dark ages” in the Moscow region characterized by very few archaeological data. An isolated ancient branch of the Oka River near the archaeological site was radiocarbon dated and found to be active until the mid-10th to later-12th centuries AD, meaning that it was likely used as a local harbor on the transit river route throughout the site’s occupation.

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