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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  • Wiggle-Matching Using Known-Age Pine from Jermyn Street, London

    Tyers, Cathy; Sidell, Jane; van der Plicht, Johannes; Marshall, Peter; Cook, Gordon; Bronk Ramsey, Christopher; Bayliss, Alex (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    A slice of pine from the period covered by single-year calibration data (Stuiver 1993) was selected to serve as part of the quality assurance procedures of the English Heritage radiocarbon dating program, following successful wiggle-matching of 14C measurements from structural 15th century English oak timbers (Hamilton et al. 2007). The timber selected was a roofing element from a house on Jermyn Street, central London, demonstrated by dendrochronology to have been felled in AD 1670. Eighteen single-ring samples were dated by the 14C laboratories at Groningen, Oxford, and SUERC: each laboratory was sent a random selection of 6 samples. This approach was intended to mimic the mix of samples and relative ages incorporated into Bayesian chronological models during routine project research. This paper presents the results of this study.
  • Variations in 14C Reservoir Ages of Black Sea Waters and Sedimentary Organic Carbon during Anoxic Periods: Influence of Photosynthetic Versus Chemoautotrophic Production

    Fontugne, Michel; Guichard, François; Bentaleb, Ilham; Strechie, Claudia; Lericolais, Gilles (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Radiocarbon activity of dissolved inorganic carbon has been measured in the northwestern Black Sea. Both continental shelf and open-sea profiles show that surface waters are in equilibrium with the atmosphere. The observed distribution of 14C activity shows a weak contribution of the deep 14C-depleted CO2 to the photic zone. Such a distribution of 14C within the water column is unable to explain the aging of sedimentary organic matter and reservoir ages greater than 500 yr. A contribution of production by chemoautotrophic bacteria feeding on 14C-depleted methane at the boundary of the oxic and anoxic zones is a realistic hypothesis. Also, a contribution to sedimentary organic carbon estimated at 15% of the photosynthetic primary production could explain 14C reservoir ages greater than 1300 yr.
  • Ultrafiltration: Boon or Bane?

    Hüls, C. M.; Grootes, P. M.; Nadeau, M.-J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Ultrafiltration of bone collagen, dissolved as gelatin (M ~100,000 D), has received considerable attention as a means to remove small contaminants and thus produce more reliable dates (Brown et al. 1988; Bronk Ramsey et al. 2004; Higham et al. 2006; Mellars 2006). However, comparative dating studies have raised the question whether this cleaning step itself may introduce contamination with carbon from the filters used (Bronk Ramsey et al. 2004; Brock et al. 2007; Hüls et al. 2007). Here, we present results of further ultrafiltration experiments with modern and fossil collagen samples using Vivaspin 20 and Vivaspin 15R ultrafilters. Evidently, the Vivaspin 20 (VS 20) ultrafilter with a polyethersulfone (PES) membrane retains more material in the 30 kD fraction than the Vivaspin 15R (VS 15R) filter with a regenerated cellulose membrane (Hydrosat), which may be related to increased retention of proteins due to suboptimal electrostatic conditions during ultrafiltration with the PES membrane. In addition, this filter type shows clear evidence for contamination with fossil carbon, presumably from membrane fibers, in the 30 kD fraction. Radiocarbon measurements on ultrafiltrated fossil collagen seem to indicate small contributions of modern carbon via glycerin left on and within the filter membranes of both types. Although SEM pictures show film remnants on the fibrous filter structure of cleaned filter membranes, EDX analysis on the VS 20 membrane to not support the assumption this may be glycerin. Our observations indicate the risks and benefits of the use of ultrafiltration in cleaning collagen samples for 14C dating need to be further quantified, especially for the cleaning of fossil bone collagen of good quality samples.
  • The Spread of the Neolithic in the South East European Plain: Radiocarbon Chronology, Subsistence, and Environment

    Dolukhanov, Pavel M.; Shukurov, Anvar; Davison, Kate; Sarson, Graeme; Gerasimenko, Natalia P.; Pashkevich, Galina A.; Vybornov, Aleksandr A.; Kovalyukh, Vikolai N.; Skripkin, V. V.; Zaitseva, Ganna I.; et al. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Newly available radiocarbon dates show the early signs of pottery-making in the North Caspian area, the Middle-Lower Volga, and the Lower Don at 8-7 kyr cal BC. Stable settlements, as indicated by "coeval subsamples," are recognized in the Middle-Lower Volga (Yelshanian) at 6.8 kyr cal BC and the Caspian Lowland at about 6 kyr cal BC. The ages of the Strumel-Gostyatin, Surskian, and Bug-Dniesterian sites are in the range of 6.6-4.5 kyr BC, overlapping with early farming entities (Starčevo-Krs-Criş and Linear Pottery), whose influence is perceptible in archaeological materials. Likewise, the 14C-dated pollen data show that the spread of early pottery-making coincided with increased precipitation throughout the forest-steppe area.
  • The Minoan Santorini Eruption and Tsunami Deposits in Palaikastro (Crete): Dating by Geology, Archaeology, 14C, and Egyptian Chronology

    Bruins, Hendrik J.; van der Plicht, Johannes; MacGillivray, J. Alexander (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Deposits from the Minoan Santorini (Thera) eruption in the eastern Mediterranean region constitute the most important regional stratigraphic marker in the chronological perplexity of the 2nd millennium BCE. Extensive tsunami deposits were discovered in Crete at the Minoan archaeological site of Palaikastro, containing reworked volcanic Santorini ash. Hence, airborne deposition of volcanic ash, probably during the 1st (Plinian) eruption phase, preceded the tsunami, which was apparently generated during the 3rd or 4th phase of the eruption, based on evidence from Thera. Average radiocarbon dates (uncalibrated) of animal bones in the Palaikastro tsunami deposits along the coast (3350 +/- 25 BP) and at the inland archaeological site (3352 +/- 23 BP) are astoundingly similar to the average 14C date for the Minoan Santorini eruption at Akrotiri on Thera (3350 +/- 10 BP). The wiggle-matched 14C date of the eruption in calendar years is 1627-1600 cal BCE. Late Minoan IA pottery is the youngest element in the Palaikastro tsunami deposits, fitting with the LM IA archaeological date for the Santorini eruption, conventionally linked at ~1500 BCE with Dynasty XVIII of the historical Egyptian chronology. The reasons for the discrepancy of 100-150 yr between 14C dating and Egyptian chronology for part of the 2nd millennium BCE are unknown. 14C dates from Tell el-Dabca in the eastern Nile Delta show that the 14C age of the Santorini eruption matches with 14C results from 18th Dynasty strata C3 and C2, thereby confirming grosso modo the conventional archaeo-historical correlations between the Aegean and Egypt. We propose that a dual dating system is used in parallel: (1) archaeological material-cultural correlations linked to Egyptian chronology; (2) 14C dating. Mixing of dates from the 2 systems may lead to erroneous archaeological and historical correlations. A 'calibration curve' should be established between Egyptian chronology and 14C dating for the 2nd millennium BCE, which may also assist to resolve the cause of the discrepancy.
  • The Radiocarbon Calibration from an Irish Oak Perspective

    Baillie, Mike G. L. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Between 1968 and 1984, a 7272-yr oak chronology was constructed in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in order to provide a local calibration of the radiocarbon timescale. This single-minded exercise in chronology construction provided an exciting occupation for a group of researchers that can be likened to a race in which there was no guarantee of a finish. The existence of a parallel dendrochronological enterprise in Germany added both competition and the possibility of independent replication. The initial completion of both chronologies by 1984, and respective calibrations by 1986, left an important legacy of 2 absolutely dated tree-ring chronologies for multifarious research purposes.
  • The Long-Term Tupiguarani Occupation in Southeastern Brazil

    Macario, K. D.; Buarque, A.; Scheel-Ybert, R.; Anjos, R. M.; Gomes, P. R. S.; Beauclair, M.; Hatté, C. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    We discuss some aspects of the chronology of the Tupiguarani occupation in the southeastern Brazilian coast based on the analyses of 3 charcoal samples from the Morro Grande archaeological site (Rio de Janeiro state). 14C beta spectroscopy and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) techniques were used to determine ages of 2920 70 BP, 2600 160 BP, and 510 160 BP. The occurrence of these ancient dates in southeastern Brazil has important implications for understanding the origin and dispersion of Tupian populations from Amazonia, supporting recent hypotheses that their expansion must have begun well before 2000 BP. On the other hand, the most recent date is a strong indication of a possible reoccupation of the site by the same cultural group around the time. These results show that the Tupiguarani occupation began at least about 3000 yr ago and lasted until its collapse with the European invasion in the 16th century.
  • The Mysterious 14C Decline

    Broecker, Wallace (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Fundamental to the field of radiocarbon dating is not only the establishment of the temporal record of the calendar age-radiocarbon age offsets but also the development of an understanding of their cause. Although part of the decline in the magnitude of this offset over the past 40,000 can be explained by a drop in 14C production rate associated with a progressive increase in the strength of the Earth's magnetic shielding, it is clear that changes in the distribution of 14C among the Earth's active carbon reservoirs are also required. In particular, the steep 15% decline in the 14C to C ratio in atmospheric CO2 and surface ocean CO2, which occurred in a 3 kyr-duration interval marking the onset of the last deglaciation, appears to require that a very large amount (at least 5000 gigatons) of 14C-deficient carbon was transferred to or within the ocean during this time interval. As no chemical or stable isotope anomaly associated with this injection appears in either the marine sediment or polar ice records, this injection must involve a transfer within the ocean (i.e. a mixing of 2 ocean reservoirs, one depleted in 14C and the other enriched in 14C). Although evidence for the existence of a salt-stabilized glacial-age abyssal ocean reservoir exists, a search based on benthic-planktic age differences and 13C measurements appears to place a limit on its size well below that required to account for the steep 14C decline.
  • The Iron Age Around the Mediterranean: A High Chronology Perspective from the Groningen Radiocarbon Database

    van der Plicht, Johannes; Bruins, Hendrik J.; Nijboer, Albert J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    In this paper, we present an overview of radiocarbon dating contributions from Groningen, concerning 9 sites from around the Mediterranean region: Israel, Sinai (Egypt), Jordan, Spain, Tunisia, and Italy. Full date lists of the 9 sites are presented. Our 14C dates are discussed in terms of present actual chronological debates. We show that all our 14C dates coherently support a "high chronology" for the Iron Age in each respective area of the Mediterranean region.
  • The Formation of Deluvial and Alluvial Cones as a Consequence of Human Settlement on a Loess Plateau: An Example from the Chroberz Area (Poland)

    Szwarczewski, Piotr (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    The area of Chroberz (southern Poland) poses questions of an interdisciplinary character comprising geomorphologic, sedimentation, and archaeological-historical problems. The main aim of this study was to identify the geomorphologic response to changes in the natural environment that took place in the area of the loess plateau (and its close vicinity) as a result of its settlement by man and of climate change. Periods of particularly intense human activity (land-use changes, deforestation, and agriculture) were recorded as changes in the type of sedimentation, i.e. organic sedimentation substituted for mineral one; it was extremely intensive during the Neolithic Age, Iron Age, and Early Middle Ages. The conducted fieldwork research, analysis of available archaeological materials, and radiocarbon dating results show that there is a direct connection between human economic activity in primeval and historic times and between soil erosion and accumulation of colluvial/alluvial fans in the surroundings of the locality of Chroberz. 14C dates documenting the age of colluvial sediment formation show that individual areas of the upland were settled by humans asynchronously. On the basis of a low facial variability, or, occasionally, even homogeneity, of individual colluvia (from soil erosion) and their considerable thickness, it can be concluded that the land was in constant use or that the intervals with no human activity were relatively short. The progressing human impact process is visible both in the form progradation recorded as the changes in 14C ages (e.g. from 1440 +/- 100 to 780 +/- 80 BP) and in textural (e.g. chemical) features of sediments of which the examined fans are composed.
  • The Impact of Cremated Bone Dating on the Archaeological Chronology of the Low Countries

    De Mulder, Guy; Van Strydonck, Mark; Boudin, Mathieu (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Since the publication of the first article (Lanting and van der Plicht 2001/2002) about the possibilities of dating cremated bones, the number of dated cremation remains has grown exponentially. The success of this dating technique lies in the fact that an absolute date now can be attributed to archaeological phenomena that previously were only datable indirectly. When archaeological artifacts where present, the cremation burials were dated based on the typology of ceramics and metals. An absolute date could be attributed if charcoal from the pyre were present. Unfortunately, these items were not omnipresent at the burial sites. Consequently, a complete site was dated by means of the few datable burials present. This implies that the internal chronology of the site could not be studied. Furthermore, the typochronology of the ceramics and the metals remains questionable. A series of dating projects on urnfield cemeteries in the Low Countries (northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands) have shown that the classical chronology of these sites must be revised.
  • The Effects of Possible Contamination on the Radiocarbon Dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls II: Empirical Methods to Remove Castor Oil and Suggestions for Redating

    Lund Rasmussen, Kaare; van der Plicht, Johannes; Doudna, Gregory; Nielsen, Frederik; Højrup, Peter; Halfdan Stenby, Erling; Pedersen, Carl Th. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    While kept at the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem, many Dead Sea Scroll fragments were exposed to castor oil by the original team of editors in the course of cleaning the parchments. Castor oil must be regarded as a serious contaminant in relation to radiocarbon dating. If modern castor oil is present and is not removed prior to dating, the 14C dates will be skewed artificially towards modern values. In Rasmussen et al. (2001), it was shown that the standard AAA pretreatment procedure used in the 2 previous studies dating Dead Sea Scroll samples (Bonani et al. 1992; Jull et al. 1995) is not capable of removing castor oil from parchment samples. In the present work, we show that it is unlikely that castor oil reacts with the amino acids of the parchment proteins, a finding which leaves open the possibility of devising a cleaning method that can effectively remove castor oil. We then present 3 different pretreatment protocols designed to effectively remove castor oil from parchment samples. These involve 3 different cleaning techniques: extraction with supercritical CO2, ultrasound cleaning, and Soxhlet extraction--each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Our data show that the protocol involving Soxhlet extraction is the best suited for the purpose of decontaminating the Dead Sea Scrolls, and we recommend that this protocol be used in further attempts to 14C date the Dead Sea Scrolls. If such an attempt is decided on by the proper authorities, we propose a list of Scroll texts, which we suggest be redated in order to validate the 14C dates done earlier by Bonani et al. (1992) and Jull et al. (1995).
  • The Beginning of the Early Bronze Age in the North Jordan Valley: New 14C Determinations from Pella in Jordan

    Bourke, Stephen; Zoppi, Ugo; Meadows, John; Hua, Quan; Gibbins, Samantha (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    This article reports on 10 new accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon dates from early phases of the Early Bronze Age at the long-lived settlement of Pella (modern Tabaqat Fahl) in the north Jordan Valley. The new AMS dates fall between 3400 and 2800 cal BC, and support a recent suggestion that all Chalcolithic period occupation had ceased by 3800/3700 cal BC at the latest (Bourke et al. 2004b). Other recently published Early Bronze Age 14C data strongly supports this revisionist scenario, suggesting that the earliest phase of the Early Bronze Age (EBA I) occupied much of the 4th millennium cal BC (3800/3700 to 3100/3000 cal BC). As this EB I period in the Jordan Valley is generally viewed as the key precursor phase in the development of urbanism (Joffe 1993), this revisionist chronology has potentially radical significance for understanding both the nature and speed of the move from village settlement towards a complex urban lifeway.
  • Temporal Change of Radiocarbon Reservoir Effect in Sugan Lake, Northwest China during the Late Holocene

    Zhou, Ai-feng; Chen, Fa-hu; Wang, Zong-li; Yang, Mei-lin; Qiang, Ming-rui; Zhang, Jia-wu (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Many lacustrine chronology records suffer from radiocarbon reservoir effects. A continuous, accurate varve chronology, in conjunction with accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C dating, was used to determine the age of lacustrine sediment and to quantify the past 14C reservoir effect in Sugan Lake (China). Reservoir age varied from 4340 to 2590 yr due to 14C-depleted water in the late Holocene. However, during the Little Ice Age (LIA), 14C reservoir age was relatively stable. According to this study, 14C reservoir age in the late Holocene may be driven by hydrological and climatic changes of this period. Therefore, special caution should be paid to the correction of the 14C reservoir effect by a unique 14C reservoir age in paleoclimatic and paleolimnological study of northwest China.
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    Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01
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    Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01
  • Table of Contents

    Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01
  • Systematic Bias of Radiocarbon Method

    Walanus, Adam (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Systematic bias of dates can became statistically significant regarding the growing global number of dates connected with the calibration curve plateau. For example, samples of true age in the span 800-700 BC are dated to be roughly 100 younger, on average. The curve of expected bias for a given age is presented. To avoid such a bias, the Bayesian paradigm probably must be modified in some way.
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    Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01
  • Rolling Out Revolution: Using Radiocarbon Dating in Archaeology

    Bayliss, Alex (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    Sixty years ago, the advent of radiocarbon dating rewrote archaeological chronologies around the world. Forty years ago, the advent of calibration signaled the death knell of the diffusionism that had been the mainstay of archaeological thought for a century. Since then, the revolution has continued, as the extent of calibration has been extended ever further back and as the range of material that can be dated has been expanded. Now a new revolution beckons, one that could allow archaeology to engage in historical debate and usher in an entirely new kind of (pre)history. This paper focuses on more than a decade of experience in utilizing Bayesian approaches routinely for the interpretation of 14C dates in English archaeology, discussing both the practicalities of implementing these methods and their potential for changing archaeological thinking.

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