• 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.
    • Radiocarbon Dates and the Earliest Colonization of East Polynesia: More than a Case Study

      Della Casa, Philippe (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Over the last 30 yr, there has been an ongoing debate on the dates and modes of the earliest colonization of East Polynesia, namely the Cook Islands, the 5 archipelagos of French Polynesia, the Hawai'i Islands, Easter Island, and New Zealand. At least 3 alternative models were proposed by Sinoto, Anderson, Kirch, and Conte, but interestingly all these models basically relied on the same set of roughly 200 radiocarbon dates on various organic materials from archaeological excavations as far back as the 1950s. Some of the models differed by 500-1000 yr--for a proposed initial colonization around the turn of the BC/AD eras, if not considerably later. By comparing the different approaches to this chronological issue, it becomes evident that almost all known problems in dealing with 14C dates from archaeological excavations are involved: stratigraphy and exact location of samples, sample material and quality, inbuilt ages and reservoir effects, lab errors in ancient dates, etc. More recently, research into landscape and vegetation history has produced alternative 14C dating for early human impact, adding to the confusion about the initial stages of island colonization, while archaeological 14C dates, becoming increasingly "young" as compared to former investigations, now advocate a rapid and late (post-AD 900) colonization of the archipelagos. As it appears, the Polynesian case is more than just another case study, it's a lesson on 14C-based archaeological chronology. The present paper does not pretend to solve the problems of early Polynesian colonization, but intends to contribute to the debate on how 14C specialists and archaeologists might cooperate in the future.
    • Radiocarbon Dating of Calcined Bones: Where Does the Carbon Come from?

      Zazzo, A.; Saliège, J-F.; Person, A.; Boucher, H. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      Over the past decade, radiocarbon dating of the carbonate contained in the mineral fraction of calcined bones has emerged as a viable alternative to dating skeletal remains in situations where collagen is no longer present. However, anomalously low 13C values have been reported for calcined bones, suggesting that the mineral fraction of bone is altered. Therefore, exchange with other sources of carbon during heating cannot be excluded. Here, we report new results from analyses on cremated bones found in archaeological sites in Africa and the Near East, as well as the results of several experiments aiming at improving our understanding of the fate of mineral and organic carbon of bone during heating. Heating of modern bone was carried out at different temperatures, for different durations, and under natural and controlled conditions, and the evolution of several parameters (weight, color, %C, %N, 13C value, carbonate content, crystallinity indexes measured by XRD and FTIR) was monitored. Results from archaeological sites confirm that calcined bones are unreliable for paleoenvironmental and paleodietary reconstruction using stable isotopes. Experimental results suggest that the carbon remaining in bone after cremation likely comes from the original inorganic pool, highly fractionated due to rapid recrystallization. Therefore, its reliability for 14C dating should be seen as close to that of tooth enamel, due to crystallographic properties of calcined bones.
    • Radiocarbon Dating of Iron: A Northern Contribution

      Oinonen, M.; Haggren, G.; Kaskela, A.; Lavento, M.; Palonen, V.; Tikkanen, P. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      The iron dating project Aikarauta has been launched in Finland. This paper presents the results of the preliminary investigations. The ability for radiocarbon measurement by accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) of iron in Finland has been demonstrated by using coal-produced iron as reference material. An elemental analyzer has been harnessed to measure the carbon content of small iron samples. In addition, we have hypothesized that a fingerprint of the limestone usage in the smelting process is the high Ca content of iron and slag. This has been examined by performing an iron smelting experiment with limestone as flux, by making elemental analyses of ingredients and the resulting slag and iron, and by a 14C analysis of the produced iron. It is possible that limestone dilutes the 14C contents of the produced iron, making its age determination challenging.
    • Radiocarbon Dating of Lumps from Aerial Lime Mortars and Plasters: Methodological Issues and Results from San Nicolò of Capodimonte Church (Camogli, Genoa, Italy)

      Pesce, G.; Quarta, G.; Calcagnile, L.; D'Elia, M.; Cavaciocchi, P.; Lastrico, C.; Guastella, R. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      This paper deals with the potentialities and technical and methodological issues associated with the use of lumps of not completely melted lime as material suitable for the radiocarbon dating of aerial lime mortars and plasters. In fact, the identification and selection of single aggregates of unmelted lumps allows one to reduce the possible contamination resulting from external sources of carbon such as "14C-dead" limestone in sand added to the mixture during preparation. This procedure results in the possibility for accurate 14C determinations from single pieces of masonry, supplying important information about the construction phases of historical buildings. The potential of this approach is shown by presenting the results of the archaeological study on the walls of San Nicol of Capodimonte church (Camogli, Genoa, Italy), where this technique has been successfully applied to obtain absolute ages of different parts of the building. The obtained results were then compared with the information gathered from historical sources and with stratigraphic and other archaeological studies.
    • Radiocarbon Dating of Neolithic Pottery

      Zaitseva, G.; Skripkin, V.; Kovaliukh, N.; Possnert, G.; Dolukhanov, P.; Vybornov, A. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      The direct measurement of organic matter included in archaeological pottery may yield a reliable assessment of age. The main problem consists in the identification of possible origins and assessment of distortion for the age of organic inclusions. Our experiments show that shells included in pottery fabrics are strongly influenced by the reservoir effect, which may reach 500 yr or more. Other organic inclusions, such as lake ooze, do not visibly distort the age. The obtained series of radiocarbon dates have been used for the assessing the age of the early stages of pottery manufacture in southern Russia.
    • Radiocarbon Dating of the Western European Neolithic: Comparison of the Dates on Bones and Dates on Charcoals

      Denaire, Anthony (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      The subject of this article is the radiocarbon dating on bones in the western European Neolithic. By gathering 14C dates for 2 examples, one chosen in the middle Neolithic of the Rhine region and the other in the end of the early Neolithic in the same region and in the Paris Basin, a significant gap appears between the sum probabilities of dates on charcoals and the ones obtained with bones. A comparison between these results with the few available dendrochronological dates shows that dates on bones seem too young, while the sequence based on charcoals fits. The existence of too-young 14C dates of bones is not new: this phenomenon was already indicated in previous studies. Most explanations agree that there was a source of contamination, during the sample's burial or its treatment in laboratory. These examples illustrate that consequences can be heavy on a chronology built, partly or entirely, on 14C dates of bones..
    • Radiocarbon Measurement Program at the Centro Nacional de Aceleradores (CNA), Spain

      Santos Arévalo, F. Javier; Gómez Martínez, Isabel; García León, Manuel (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2009-01-01)
      In September 2005, an accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) system based on a 1MV Tandetron accelerator arrived at the Centro Nacional de Aceleradores (CNA). One of the main research programs for this AMS facility is based on radiocarbon. At the same time as the AMS facility was installed and tested, the 14C sample preparation laboratory was designed and set up. A graphitization line that allows the preparation of 5 samples in parallel was designed and built in October 2006. The first months were mainly dedicated to check and optimize all the sample processing. For such a task, several reference samples have been prepared and measured. Since the beginning of 2007, the laboratory has been fully operational and is currently performing as a service for the scientific community. During 2007, nearly 100 unknown samples were prepared and measured in our AMS system. Most of them were for dating purposes, but also other applications were investigated. The performance of the 14C laboratory and dating service will be shown, with some examples as illustration.