• AMS Radiocarbon Dating of Paleolithic-Aged Charcoal from Europe and the Mediterranean Rim Using ABOx-SC

      Brock, F.; Higham, T. F. G. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Radiocarbon dating of charcoal 25-30 kyr can be problematic due to contamination from exogeneous carbon and the variable effectiveness of 14C pretreatments to remove it. Bird et al. (1999) developed the ABOx-SC (acid-base-oxidation-stepped combustion) method for removing contaminants from older charcoal samples, which involves a harsher treatment than traditional acid-base-acid (ABA) pretreatments. This method has been shown to considerably improve the reliability of dating old charcoal from sites in Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and Malaysia (Bird et al. 1999, 2003; Turney et al. 2001; Santos et al. 2003; Higham et al. 2009a). Here, we apply the technique to material from 5 Paleolithic sites from Europe and the Mediterranean Rim. For 2 of the sites (Kebara Cave, Israel and Taramsa Hill, Egypt), the ABOx-SC and ABA methods produced similar dates. However, in the case of 1 site, the Grotta di Fumane in Italy, ABOx-SC pretreatment produced significantly older results from those of ABA methods, requiring substantial reinterpretation of the archaeological sequence of the site. The rigorous nature of the technique resulted in a high failure rate for sample pretreatment, and insufficient material survived the pretreatment for dating from Grotte des Pigeons, Morocco or Gorham's Cave, Gibraltar.