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

Volume 54, Number 3-4 contains the proceedings of the 6th Radiocarbon and Archaeology Symposium, held April 10-15, 2011 in Paphos, Cyprus.


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Recent Submissions

  • 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)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Radiocarbon Chronology for Prehistoric Complexes of the Russian Far East: 15 Years Later

    Kuzmin, Yaroslav V. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    The recent progress in radiocarbon dating of the prehistoric cultural complexes in the Russian Far East is discussed against the background of ancient chronologies for greater East Asia. Since 1997, the wide use of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating along with the continuation of conventional dating has allowed us to establish the age of several key Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Paleometal sites. It has also contributed to advancing a deeper understanding of the timing for the beginning of pottery production, maritime adaptation, and agriculture, and several other important issues in prehistoric chronology for the studied region. Reservoir age correction values for the Japan and Okhotsk seas are now used to adjust the age for samples of marine origin. Some of the cultural-chronological models for prehistoric far eastern Russian complexes put forward in the last 10 yr lack a solid basis, and are critically evaluated herein.
  • Radiocarbon Age for the Cultural Layer of the Neolithic-Bronze Age Settlement Pesochnoe-1 (Lake Nero, Russia)

    Alexandrovskiy, A. L.; Voronin, K. V.; Dolgikh, A. V.; Kovalukh, N. N.; Skripkin, V. V.; Glavatskaya, E. V. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
    Organic matter in the cultural layer of the ancient settlement Pesochnoe-1 near Lake Nero (NE of Moscow) yields reliable radiocarbon dates. The reason for this is the high concentrations of calcium and phosphorus in the cultural layer, especially in calcined bones. Several cultural epochs are distinguished in the cultural layer consisting of more or less homogeneous habitation deposits colored with humic susbstances. Artifacts of the Ljalovo culture are found in the lower part of the cultural layer; above these, artifacts of the Volosovo culture are present, and the upper part of the cultural layer corresponds to the Textile Ceramics culture. The 14C dates for humic substances in the layers show a good chronological stratification and correspond to known ages of these cultural stages. The 14C dates for the Ljalovo cultural layer cover 5600–5100 BP (4430–3900 cal BC), and dates for the Volosovo cultural layer span 4400–4200 BP (3000–2840 cal BC). Most dates from the upper part of the cultural layer correspond to the chronological interval of the Textile Ceramics culture and range from 3700 to 3200 BP (2100–1460 cal BC). More precise 14C dates were obtained for humic substances from archaeological objects in the upper cultural layer (hearths, fillings of pottery vessels, etc.): 3900–3500 BP (2100–1800 cal BC).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Preface from the Guest Editors

    Boaretto, Elisabetta; Rebollo Franco, Noemi (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
  • 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.
  • 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.

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