• 14C Dating of Cremated Bones: The Issue of Sample Contamination

      Van Strydonck, Mark; Boudin, Mathieu; Mulder, Guy De (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Recent comparative studies have proven the validity of radiocarbon dates of cremated bones. The issue of sample contamination has, however, been overlooked in most studies. Analyses of cremated bone samples has shown that in some cases, cremated bones are contaminated. This contamination is more distinct near the surface of the bones and depends on the compactness of the cremated bone as well as on the site conditions. 13C is not a good estimator to discriminate between contaminated and uncontaminated bones. An acetic acid pretreatment is the most appropriate method to clean samples, but it is better to remove the surface and to avoid cremated bones that are not entirely white (cremation temp. 725 degrees C).
    • 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.