• 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.
    • Bayesian Spatiotemporal Analysis of Radiocarbon Dates from Eastern Fennoscandia

      Onkamo, Päivi; Kammonen, Juhana; Pesonen, Petro; Sundell, Tarja; Moltchanova, Elena; Oinonen, Markku; Haimila, Miikka; Arjas, Elja (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Archaeological phenomena, especially those that have been radiocarbon dated, can be utilized as indications of human activity and occupancy in space and time. 14C dates from archaeological contexts have been used as proxies for population history events in several recent studies (e.g. Gamble et al. 2005; Shennan and Edinborough 2007; Oinonen et al. 2010; Tallavaara et al. 2010; Pesonen et al. 2011). As a step towards a larger spatiotemporal modeling effort, we present examples of spatial distributions obtained using Bayesian methodology, analyzing all available archaeological 14C dates from the Stone Age (9000–1500 cal BC) in eastern Fennoscandia. The resulting maps follow the patterns of pioneer settlement in Finland beginning at ~9000 cal BC and provide supporting evidence for the postulated population peak around 4000–3500 cal BC in Finland and the subsequent population decline.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Assessment of Infinite-Age Bones from the Upper Thames Valley, UK, as 14C Background Standards

      Cook, G. T.; Higham, T. F. G.; Naysmith, P.; Brock, F.; Freeman, S. P. H. T.; Bayliss, A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      It is becoming increasingly clear that in order to generate accurate radiocarbon dates for bone collagen samples it is important to determine a sample-specific background correction to account for the greater complexity and higher number of steps in the pretreatment chemistry of this material. To provide suitable samples for the 14C community, 7 bone samples were obtained from contexts within British gravel quarries, which according to other dating techniques or stratigraphic information, should be of infinite age with respect to 14C. The bones were analyzed at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU) and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) to determine their suitability. In this paper, we show that 6 of the samples were indistinguishable from background. Both institutions measured finite ages for sample 387 from Oxey Mead that were statistically indistinguishable. Further work is required to establish whether this is because the bone was intrusive and of a younger age than expected or whether it is contaminated either postdepositionally or in the laboratory. We favor the former explanation because (1) the 2 chemistry laboratories use very different pretreatment schemes, (2) collagen yields were high, and (3) the laboratories produced ages that are in good agreement. The 6 “greater than” age samples will be made available to 14C laboratories to be used as background standards.
    • Chronological Problems with Neolithization of the Northern Caspian Sea Area and the Forest-Steppe Povolzhye Region

      Vybornov, A.; Zaitseva, G.; Kovaliukh, N.; Kulkova, M.; Possnert, G.; Skripkin, V. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Steppe and forest-steppe areas of the Povolzhye area (Caucasus and central Asia) bear much interest for the Neolithic in connection with the productive economy of the region at the time. Recent data have allowed correction of the region’s chronology. A number of 14C dates denote the existence of the Neolithic in this territory as early as the 5th to 6th millennium BP. However, some questions are still under debate and require further data to clarify.
    • 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.
    • Chronology of Late Pleistocene Humans in Eurasia: Results and Perspectives

      Keates, Susan G.; Kuzmin, Yaroslav V.; Burr, George S. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      A compilation of direct age determinations for Late Pleistocene human fossils in eastern Europe and Asia is presented in this paper, and current problems with the dating of hominids in these regions are discussed. Only 25 human finds (4 Neanderthals and 21 modern humans) have been directly dated from Pleistocene eastern Europe and Asia. Indirect dating of human remains (using presumably associated organics) often is insecure, especially when information about the exact provenance of human fossils is lacking. Continuation of direct dating of Late Pleistocene humans in Eurasia, primarily with the help of the accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C method, is therefore an urgent task.
    • Chronology of Neolithic-Early Metal Age Sites at the Okhta River Mouth (Saint Petersburg, Russia)

      Kulkova, Marianna; Gusentzova, T.; Nesterov, E.; Sorokin, P.; Sapelko, T. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      The unique archaeological monument of Okhta 1 (Neolithic-Early Metal Age) was excavated in 2008 in central Saint Petersburg (Russia). Radiocarbon and wiggle-match dating of organic materials and artifacts (charcoal wood samples and ceramic food crusts) from lithological and cultural layers helped to determine the main stages of cultural-historical processes and paleogeographical events in the coastal zone of the Baltic Sea bay during the Holocene. Humans occupied the Okhta Cape from 4200–3600 cal BC, after the Littorina Sea regression. Prehistoric people of the Middle-Late Neolithic, identified by their characteristic Pit Combed Ware ceramics, used this territory for fishing and hunting. The wood pile constructions used for fishing in 3500 cal BC were built on the coast and in river channels. From 3200–3000 cal BC, settlements and burials appeared of the Late Neolithic-Early Metal Age. The strategic geographical position of this territory was favorable for trade activity, fishing, and hunting, and shaped important interactions for different cultural groups.
    • Desert Habitation History by 14C Dating of Soil Layers in Rural Building Structures (Negev, Israel): Preliminary Results from Horvat Haluqim

      Bruins, Hendrik J.; van der Plicht, Johannes; Haiman, Mordechai (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Traditional archaeological approaches in the central Negev Desert used to employ excavation techniques in post-prehistoric periods in which stratigraphy is based on architecture, while material culture forms the basis for dating assessment and chronology. Such an approach was understandable, as it focused on the most visible remains of past human habitation. However, the detailed habitation record is in the soil rather than in the walls. Moreover, ceramics and stone tools in desert cultures often have limited time resolution in terms of absolute chronology. The rural desert site of Horvat Haluqim in the central Negev yielded 2 habitation periods with the traditional methodology: (1) Roman period, 2nd–3rd centuries CE; (2) Iron Age IIA, 10th century BCE. We have conducted at Horvat Haluqim initial excavations in small building remains that were never excavated before. Our excavation methodology focuses on detailed examination of the archaeological soil in building structures, coupled with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dating for chronology, and micromorphology of undisturbed soil samples to study stratigraphy and soil contents at the microscopic scale. Here, we report preliminary results, concentrating on the 14C dates. These suggest a much longer habitation history at the site during the Iron Age. The 14C dates obtained so far from these building remains cover Iron Age I, II, III, and the Persian period. The oldest calibrated date (charred C4 plants) in a rectangular building structure (L100) is 1129–971 BCE (60.5%, highest relative probability). The youngest calibrated date in a round building structure (L700) is 540–411 BCE (57.9%, highest relative probability). This excavation methodology provides additional “eyes” to look at past human habitation in the Negev Desert, seeing more periods and more detail than was possible with traditional schemes and ceramic dating.
    • 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, 2012-10-15)
    • Early Subneolithic Ceramic Sequences in Eastern Fennoscandia—A Bayesian Approach

      Pesonen, Petro; Oinonen, Markku; Carpelan, Christian; Onkamo, Päivi (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      In this contribution, we establish a radiocarbon-based chronology of early ceramic sequences in eastern Fennoscandia utilizing a Bayesian approach. The data consist of 56 individual 14C dates from charred or fermented food remains (charred crust, food residue) and birch bark tar used to seal cracks in vessels. We present the results of the models, discuss the chronological boundaries obtained, and compare the outcome with contemporary archaeological knowledge of the Subneolithic in eastern Fennoscandia. We also look at the role of charred crust δ13C values as indicators of reservoir effect present in the dates, perform some preliminary correction procedures for the dates, and discuss their effect on the chronologies.
    • Early Bronze Age Chronology: Radiocarbon Dates and Chronological Models from Tel Yarmuth (Israel)

      Regev, Johanna; de Miroschedji, Pierre; Boaretto, Elisabetta (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Over the years, 40 radiocarbon samples (charcoal and seeds) have been measured from the site of Tel Yarmuth. These samples originate from 3 major archaeological periods: Final Early Bronze Age (henceforth EB) I, EB II, and EB IIIB-C. The samples are further on divided into 8 separate archaeological phases. Bayesian modeling analyses were performed on the data. Separate models were run with seeds and charcoals to detect a possible old-wood effect. Outliers were detected, and finally models with gaps were run to account for the lack of samples from 2 archaeological layers. The results suggest that at Tel Yarmuth the end of the EB II occurred ~2950–2880 BC, and that the EB III ended at the latest ~2450 BC, perhaps before 2500 BC. Although these dates are somewhat earlier than traditionally assumed, they are in close accordance with the new analysis of other 14C dates for the Early Bronze Age in the southern Levant (Regev et al., these proceedings).
    • 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.
    • Methodological Implications of New Radiocarbon Dates from the Early Holocene Site of Körtik Tepe, Southeast Anatolia

      Benz, Marion; Coşkun, Aytaç; Hajdas, Irka; Deckers, Katleen; Riehl, Simone; Alt, Kurt W.; Weninger, Bernhard; Özkaya, Vecihi (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      One of the greatest challenges of contemporary archaeology is to synthesize the large amount of radiocarbon and archaeological data into a useful dialogue. For the late Epipaleolithic and the Early Neolithic of the Near East, many 14C ages have been published without precise stratigraphic documentation. Consequently, for archaeological age models we often must use some more elementary approaches, such as probabilistic summation of calibrated ages. The stratigraphy of Körtik Tepe allows us for the first time to study an extended series of 14C ages of the earliest Holocene. In particular, we are able to analyze the data according to stratigraphic position within a well-documented profile. However, because of a plateau in the 14C age calibration curve at the transition from the Younger Dryas to the Early Holocene, dates of this period can be interpreted only if an extended sequence of dates is available. Due to problems remaining in the calibration procedure, the best way to achieve an interpretation is to compare the results of different 14C calibration software. In the present paper, we use the results of the calibration programs OxCal and CalPal. This approach has important implications for future age modeling, in particular for the question of how to date the transition from the Epipaleolithic to the PPNA precisely and accurately.
    • 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.
    • Mussels with Meat: Bivalve Tissue-Shell Radiocarbon Age Differences and Archaeological Implications

      Fernandes, Ricardo; Bergemann, Stefanie; Hartz, Sönke; Grootes, Pieter M.; Nadeau, Marie-Josée; Melzner, Frank; Rakowski, Andrzej; Hüls, Matthias (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)
      Local reservoir ages are often estimated from the difference between the radiocarbon ages of aquatic material and associated terrestrial samples for which no reservoir effect is expected. Frequently, the selected aquatic material consists of bivalve shells that are typically well preserved in the archaeological record. For instance, large shell middens attest to the importance of mussel consumption at both coastal and inland sites. However, different physiological mechanisms associated with tissue and shell growth may result in differences in reservoir effects between the surviving component (shell) and the component relevant to dietary reservoir effects in consumers (tissue). The current study examines bivalve tissue-shell age differences both from freshwater and marine contexts close to archaeological sites where human consumption of mollusks has been attested. Results exhibited significant 14C age differences between bivalve tissue and shell in a freshwater context. In a marine context, no significant bivalve tissue-shell age differences were observed. The results also showed that riverine and lacustrine shells show large and variable freshwater reservoir effects. The results have important implications for establishing local reservoir effects especially in a freshwater environment. For good a priori knowledge of expected 14C differences in organic and inorganic water, carbon is thus necessary. Furthermore, the high variability in freshwater shell 14C ages implies the need for representative sampling from the archaeological record.
    • 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.
    • Obituary: Jean-François Saliège (1943–2012)

      Zazzo, Antoine (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2012-10-15)