• Can We Get a Good Radiocarbon Age from "Bad Bone"? Determining the Reliability of Radiocarbon Age from Bioapatite

      Cherkinsky, Alexander (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      The study of the radiocarbon age of bone bioapatite was initiated by necessity to date archaeological artifacts, which often contain little or no collagen as a result of poor preservation. Contamination of the organic fraction in the process of the burial or during museum preservation treatment generally prohibits the use of the collagen fraction for dating. Our investigation has shown that the pretreatment of bone with diluted acetic acid following a proscribed technique allows the separation of the bioapatite fraction from diagenetic carbonates. We have successfully used this technique to prepare and date samples of bone and of tooth enamel and dentin, with varying degrees of preservation condition, and from time intervals ranging from a few hundred 14C yr to greater than 40,000 14C yr.
    • Chronology and Bell Beaker Common Ware

      Piguet, Martine; Besse, Marie (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      The Bell Beaker is a culture of the Final Neolithic, which spread across Europe between 2900 and 1800 BC. Since its origin is still widely discussed, we have been focusing our analysis on the transition from the Final Neolithic pre-Bell Beaker to the Bell Beaker. We thus seek to evaluate the importance of Neolithic influence in the establishment of the Bell Beaker by studying the common ware pottery and its chronology. Among the 26 main types of common ware defined by Marie Besse (2003), we selected the most relevant ones in order to determine--on the basis of their absolute dating--their appearance either in the Bell Beaker period or in the pre-Bell Beaker groups.
    • Chronology of the Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic Settlement Tell Qaramel, Northern Syria, in the Light of Radiocarbon Dating

      Mazurowski, Ryszard F.; Michczyńska, Danuta J.; Pazdur, Anna; Piotrowska, Natalia (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Archaeological excavations at the Syrian settlement of Tell Qaramel have been conducted since 1999. They are concentrated on remnants of the Protoneolithic and early stages of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period. The settlement has revealed an extremely rich collection of everyday use of flint, bone, and mostly stone objects, such as decorated chlorite or limestone vessels; shaft straighteners used to stretch wooden arrow shafts, richly decorated in geometrical, zoomorphic, and anthropomorphic patterns; as well as different kinds of stones, querns, mortars, pestles, grinders, polishing plates, celts, and adzes. Excavations brought the discovery of 5 circular towers. Some 57 charcoal samples were collected during the excavations and dated in the GADAM Centre in Gliwice, Poland. The stratigraphy of the settlement and results of radiocarbon dating testify that these are the oldest such constructions in the world, older than the famous and unique tower in Jericho. They confirm that the Neolithic culture was formed simultaneously in many regions of the Near East, creating a farming culture and establishing settlements with mud and stone architecture and creating the first stages of a proto-urban being.
    • Combination of Numerical Dating Techniques Using 10Be in Rock Boulders and 14C of Resilient Soil Organic Matter for Reconstructing the Chronology of Glacial and Periglacial Processes in a High Alpine Catchment during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene

      Favilli, Filippo; Egli, Markus; Brandova, Dagmar; Ivy-Ochs, Susan; Kubik, Peter W.; Maisch, Max; Cherubini, Paolo; Haeberli, Wilfried (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Glacier fluctuations and paleoclimatic oscillations during the Late Quaternary in Val di Rabbi (Trentino, northern Italy) were reconstructed using a combination of absolute dating techniques (14C and 10Be) and soil chemical characterization. Extraction and dating of the stable fraction of soil organic matter (SOM) gave valuable information about the minimum age of soil formation and contributed to the deciphering of geomorphic surface dynamics. The comparison of 10Be surface exposure dating (SED) of rock surfaces with the 14C ages of resilient (resistant to H2O2 oxidation) soil organic matter gave a fairly good agreement, but with some questionable aspects. It is concluded that, applied with adequate carefulness, dating of SOM with 14C might be a useful tool in reconstructing landscape history in high Alpine areas with siliceous parent material. The combination of 14C dating of SOM with SED with cosmogenic 10Be (on moraines and erratic boulders) indicated that deglaciation processes in Val di Rabbi were already ongoing by around 14,000 cal BP at an altitude of 2300 m asl and that glacier oscillations might have affected the higher part of the region until about 9000 cal BP. 10Be and 14C ages correlate well with the altitude of the sampling sites and with the established Lateglacial chronology.
    • Conference Group Photo

      Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01
    • Conference Participants

      Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01
    • Contradictions in the Relative Chronology: Archaeological and Radiocarbon Dating

      Stöckli, Werner E. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      When comparing dendrodates and radiocarbon dates, I advocate using the mean value for archaeologically defined data series, as in the usual case, the correct dating is always more precise than the calibrated areas. However, in the extreme gradient of the calibration curve, we must consider the errors. Based on the Corded Ware from the Tauber basin, I put forward a first example in which a contradiction between the archaeological and 14C dating occurs. If one cleanly separates the older measurements from Kln and the younger ones from Heidelberg, the contradiction towards the archaeological dating is canceled out when only the younger Heidelberg dates are taken into account. Regarding the Early Bronze Age, I shall first deal with the cemetery at Singen and will show, using the typology and the horizontal distribution of the graves, how outliers can be identified, thus narrowing the range for dating of the cemetery. The comparison of 2 archaeologically contemporaneous cemeteries in the Neckar basin (Rottenburg and Gufelden) again results in contradictions between the archaeological and 14C dating. In this case, the contradictions cannot be solved without any new dating measurements. It is recommended that these should be carried out by at least 2 laboratories. Finally, some recommendations are given to archaeologists. In my opinion, 14C dates that are archaeologically unsuitable should be used to check the findings and the archaeological-typological classification. The contradictions should be reported immediately to the 14C laboratory, so that any possible experimental errors can be identified..
    • Dating Bones near the Limit of the Radiocarbon Dating Method: Study Case Mammoth from Niederweningen, ZH Switzerland

      Hajdas, Irka; Michczyński, Adam; Bonani, Georges; Wacker, Lukas; Furrer, Heinz (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Preparation of bone material for radiocarbon dating is still a subject of investigation. In the past, the most problematic ages appeared to be the very old bones, i.e. those with ages close to the limit of the dating method. Development of preparative methods requires sufficient amounts of bone material as well as the possibility of verification of the ages. In the peat section at Niederweningen, ZH Switzerland, numerous bones of mammoth and other animals were found in the late 19th century. The first accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon ages of those bones from 1890/1891 excavations placed the age between 33,000 and 35,000 BP. The excavations in 2003/2004 provided additional material for 14C dating. An age of 45,870 +/- 1080 BP was obtained on base (NaOH step) cleaned gelatin from mammoth bone, which was very close to the age of 45,430 +/- 1020 BP obtained for the peat layer that buried the mammoths. The 14C age of gelatin cleaned using the ultrafiltration method obtained in this study, 45,720 +/- 710 BP, is in a very good agreement with the previously obtained results. Moreover, the study shows that 3 pretreatment methods (base+Longin, Longin+ultrafiltration, and base+Longin+ultrafiltration) give ages consistent with each other and with the age of the peat section.
    • Dating Charred Soil Organic Matter: Comparison of Radiocarbon Ages from Macrocharcoals and Chemically Separated Charcoal Carbon

      Eckmeier, Eileen; van der Borg, Klaas; Tegtmeier, Ursula; Schmidt, Michael W. I.; Gerlach, Renate (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Radiocarbon dating of charcoal in soils is commonly used to reconstruct past environmental processes. Also microcharcoal that is chemically isolated from soil organic matter by high-energy UV photo-oxidation can be dated with 14C accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). We compared the 14C AMS ages of 13 pairs of hand-picked macrocharcoals and microcharcoal samples separated via the UV oxidation method; both charcoal fractions were taken from the same soil samples (prehistoric pit fillings). We found that in most cases, the microcharcoal fraction yielded older ages than the single macrocharcoal pieces, and that the differences between the ages are not systematic. A reason for these age differences might be that the microcharcoal fraction consists of more stable components than macrocharcoals and thus yields older ages. Dating of microcharcoal would give a mean age of charred organic matter in soil material and the ages of the more stable compounds. Thus, 14C data obtained from the microcharcoal fraction in soils is not comparable to macrocharcoal ages and should not be used to complement existing macrocharcoal data sets.
    • Dating of the Cultural Layers from Vilnius Lower Castle, East Lithuania: Implications for Chronological Attribution and Environmental History

      Mažeika, J.; Blaževičius, P.; Stančikaitė, M; Kisielienė, D. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Complex interdisciplinary studies carried out in the territory of the Vilnius Lower Castle, E Lithuania, were used to construct a chronological framework based on radiocarbon data and archaeological information. Bulk samples (wood and sediment) were collected from an approximately 3-m core that crossed cultural layers and underlying strata. 14C dates indicate that the underlying bed possibly formed during the 6th century AD, although no archaeological finds were discovered there. Paleobotanical (pollen and plant macrofossil) investigations reveal evidence of agriculture that points to the existence of a permanent settlement in the area at that time. The chronological data indicates a sedimentation hiatus before the onset of the deposition of the cultural layer in the studied area. The 14C dates showed that the formation of the cultural bed began during the late 13th-early 14th centuries AD, that is, earlier than expected according to the archaeological record. The ongoing deposition of the cultural beds continued throughout the middle to latter half of the 14th century AD as revealed by the archaeological records and confirmed by well-correlated 14C results. After some decline in human activity in the middle of the 14th century AD, a subsequent ongoing development of the open landscape, along with intensive agriculture, points to an increase in human activity during the second half of the 14th century AD. The first half of the 15th century AD was marked by intensive exploitation of the territory, indicating a period of economic and cultural prosperity. The chronological framework indicates that the investigated cultural beds continued forming until the first half of the 16th century AD.
    • Dating of the Tashtyk Cultural Remains from the Oglakhty Burial Ground (Southern Siberia)

      Zaitseva, G. I.; Pankova, S. V.; Vasiliev, S. S.; Dergachev, V. A.; Scott, E. M.; Sementsov, A. A.; Jungner, H.; Sonninen, E. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      The present research is focused on the dating of the Oglakhty burial ground, the key site of stage I of the Tashtyk culture. Despite the numerous well-preserved burials of that type investigated at the Oglakhty complexes, their chronological position has remained unclear. From the early 20th century until the present, 2 different time periods had been identified for the Tashtyk burials: (1) from the 1st century BC until the 1st century AD and (2) from the 1st until the 2nd century AD. New data obtained in the 1990s suggested a different age for Tashtyk burials, namely the 3rd-4th centuries AD. This considerable shift in chronology needed to be checked with independent data. The chronological position of one of the Oglakhty burials, tomb 4, has been investigated with the use of wiggle-matching, applied to wooden logs used in the construction of tomb 4. The resulting dates for this burial strongly suggest its age as being limited to the 3rd-4th centuries AD, which is corroborated by the archaeological dates of the imported artifacts found in the grave and which is in agreement with the chronological position of the Oglakhty site, as proposed by previous investigations.
    • Dating the Neolithic: Methodological Premises and Absolute Chronology

      Müller, Johannes (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Ideas of Neolithic societies and of the identities of Neolithic individuals changed rapidly during the last decade. The archaeological concept of "culture" implies sequential changes of material culture in spatial and temporal "slices." The term 'society' describes human behavior within social identities, which could produce huge differences in material culture. Ideas of Neolithic "cultures" are no longer valid, as absolute chronological evidence points to overlapping phenomena of material culture and social developments. A combined use of correspondence analysis (to detect similarities and differences in material culture) and radiocarbon data (to identify the chronological character of material culture) exemplifies such an approach in the deconstruction and reconstruction of Neolithic central Germany.
    • Depending on 14C Data: Chronological Frameworks in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic of Southeastern Europe

      Reingruber, Agathe; Thissen, Laurens (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      With the introduction of the radiocarbon method in 1949 and the calibration curve constantly improving since 1965, but especially due to the development of the more accurate accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dating some 30 yr ago, the application of the 14C method in prehistory revolutionized traditional chronological frameworks. Theories and models are adjusted to new 14C sequences, and such sequences even lead to the creation of new theories and models. In our contribution, we refer to 2 major issues that are still heavily debated, although their first absolute dating occurred some decades ago: 1) the transition from the Mesolithic to the Early Neolithic in the eastern and western Aegean. Very high 14C data for the beginning of the Neolithic in Greece around 7000 BC fueled debates around the Preceramic period in Thessaly (Argissa-Magoula, Sesklo) and the Early Neolithic in Macedonia (Nea Nikomedeia). A reinterpretation of these data shows that the Neolithic in Greece did not start prior to 6400/6300 BC; 2) the beginning and the end of the Chalcolithic period in SE Europe. Shifting from relative chronologies dating the Chalcolithic to the 3rd millennium BC to an absolute chronology assigning the Kodadermen-Gumelnia-Karanovo VI cultural complex to the 5th millennium BC, the exact beginning and the end of the period are still under research. New data from Varna (Bulgaria) and Pietrele (Romania) suggest that start and end of the SE European Chalcolithic have to be dated deeper into the 5th millennium BC.
    • Developing a Chronology Integrating Archaeological and Environmental Data from Different Contexts: The Late Holocene Sequence of Ounjougou (Mali)

      Ozainne, Sylvain; Lespez, Laurent; Le Drezen, Yann; Eichhorn, Barbara; Neumann, Katharina; Huysecom, Eric (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      At Ounjougou, a site complex situated in the Yamé River valley on the Bandiagara Plateau (Dogon country, Mali), multidisciplinary research has revealed a rich archaeological and paleoenvironmental sequence used to reconstruct the history of human-environment interactions, especially during the Late Holocene (3500-300 cal BC). Geomorphological, archaeological, and archaeobotanical data coming from different sites and contexts were combined in order to elaborate a chronocultural and environmental model for this period. Bayesian analysis of 54 14C dates included within the general Late Holocene stratigraphy of Ounjougou provides better accuracy for limits of the main chronological units, as well as for some particularly important events, like the onset of agriculture in the region. The scenario that can be proposed in the current state of research shows an increasing role of anthropogenic fires from the 3rd millennium cal BC onwards, and the appearance of food production during the 2nd millennium cal BC, coupled with a distinctive cultural break. The Late Holocene sequence ends around 300 cal BC with an important sedimentary hiatus that lasts until the end of the 4th century cal AD.
    • Mesolithic Human Bones from the Upper Volga Basin: Radiocarbon and Trace Elements

      Alexandrovskiy, A. L.; Alexandrovskaya, E. I.; Zhilin, M. I.; van der Plicht, J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Human bones from 3 Mesolithic sites in the Upper Volga basin were analyzed for trace elements, and dated by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). The radiocarbon dates of the bones correspond to the Mesolithic era. However, some dates differ from those obtained for the enclosing deposits and for the worked wood fragments in the cultural layer. The elemental composition of the bones is interpreted in terms of increased concentrations of some elements and their impact on human health and behavior.
    • Monks and Icon Painters from the Spaso-Andronikov Monastery, Moscow

      Alexandrovskaya, E. I.; Alexandrovskiy, A. L.; van der Plicht, J.; Kovalyukh, N. N.; Skripkin, V. V. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      In the Monastery of Our Saviour and St. Andronicus in Moscow, skeletal remains of clerics and of (possibly) famous icon painters were discovered. The bones were radiocarbon dated, nd concentrations of trace elements in bone tissues were measured. From tombs 1-4, the 14C dates obtained from human bones (likely monks) and from associated wood date to the 14th-15th centuries AD, as expected. Trace element concentrations indicate signs of fasting. Tomb 5 contained 2 burials; these could belong to the famous icon painters Rublev and Chernyi. Indeed, the bones show high concentrations of lead, zinc, and copper, which is typical for remains of artists and metallurgists. The 14C dates of the 2 skeletons, however, differ by 200 yr, and seem to be too old for Rublev and Chernyi. At this stage, it is not clear if the burials can be assigned to these painters.
    • New Radiocarbon Dates for the Early Neolithic of the Western Mediterranean

      Willigen, Samuel Van; Hajdas, Irka; Bonani, Georges (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Understanding of processes that determined the expansion of farming and animal husbandry in southwestern Europe is hampered by poor chronologies of the early Neolithic in this region. This paper presents new radiocarbon dates, which are used to construct such a chronological frame for a regional group of the most important culture of the early Neolithic in the western Mediterranean: the Cardial culture.
    • Paleoecology, Subsistence, and 14C Chronology of the Eurasian Caspian Steppe Bronze Age

      Shishlina, N. I.; Zazovskaya, E. P.; van der Plicht, J.; Hedges, R. E. M.; Sevastyanov, V. S.; Chicagova, O. A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Combined analysis of paleoenvironment, 13C, 15N, and 14C in bone, including paired dating of human bone and terrestrial materials (herbivore bone, wood, charcoal, and textile) has been performed on many samples excavated from Russian kurgan graves. The data can be used for dietary reconstruction, and reservoir corrections for 14C dating of human bone. The latter is essential for an accurate construction of chronologies for the Eneolithic and Bronze Age cultures of the Caspian steppes.
    • Preface from the Editors

      Hajdas, Irka; Della Casa, Philippe; Egli, Markus; Hügi, Ursula; van Willigan, Samuel; Wörle, Marie (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
    • Radiocarbon and Dendrochronological Dates of the Corded Ware Culture

      Włodarczak, Piotr (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      This paper presents and discusses radiocarbon dates of the Corded Ware culture (CWC) from different regions of Europe (mainly from southern and central Germany and southern and central Poland). The main questions addressed are the controversial significance of particular results, the incompatibility of the obtained date sequences, and the "imprecision of the method." There is clearly the problem of hundreds of dates from different laboratories and performed in different years. A slight difference in the results leads to an "elongated"chronology and acceptance of a model with synchronicity of many cultural groups. The proposed verification of the 14C chronology is connected with both the dendrochronological method and the comparison of dating sequences obtained from particular regions. At present, the most reliable dating scheme for the Corded Ware culture is the one based on the dendrochronological dates of settlements on Swiss lakes; therefore, the scheme must constitute a reference point for 14C analyses conducted for other regions. Due to the typological diversity of materials, however, not every situation allows for this approach. Thus, many 14C grave dates, particularly the results referring to the late CWC phase (after ~2400 BC), remain controversial.