• Editorial Board

      Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01
    • Towards an AMS Radiocarbon Chronology of Predynastic Egyptian Ceramics

      Savage, Stephen H. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      The wide and varied connections between Israel and Egypt during the Early Bronze Age/Predynastic are frequently calibrated through ceramics that depend to a large degree on two seriation methods developed for Predynastic Egypt. Petrie’s seriation technique and Kaiser’s Stufe dating method utilize whole forms from mortuary contexts. Because of the ways they were developed and deployed in Predynastic research, a logical tautology exists that makes their usage highly problematic. Radiocarbon dating of the Predynastic is vital if we are to untangle existing ceramic chronologies. But up to now, almost all 14C dates have come from domestic contexts where whole vessels are not usually found and which differ significantly from cemeteries in their ceramic assemblages. A 14C-based chronology of whole forms in the Petrie Corpus is thus highly desirable, but has proven elusive until now. Samples of organic materials and Black-Topped Red Ware vessels from over 100 graves in the Predynastic Cemetery, N7000, at Naga-ed-Dêr have recently been submitted for dating with AMS methods, providing the first comprehensive 14C chronology of a Predynastic cemetery. The results are compared to a suite of recalibrated dates from Upper Egyptian Predynastic domestic contexts, which allows the 14C chronology for the region to be further refined. Absolute date ranges for a number of ceramic forms can be estimated for the first time, and results of early analysis are discussed.
    • The Chronology of the Ghassulian Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant: New 14C Determinations from Teleilat Ghassul, Jordan

      Bourke, Stephen; Lawson, Ewan; Lovell, Jaimie; Hua, Quan; Zoppi, Ugo; Barbetti, Michael (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      This article reports on ten new accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dates from the Chalcolithic period (fifth millennium BC) archaeological type-site of Teleilat Ghassul in Jordan. Early radiocarbon assays from the site proved difficultt o integrate with current relative chronological formulations. The ten new AMS dates and follow-up enquiries connected with the early assays suggest that the original dates were up to 500 years too early. A necessary reformulation of regional relative chronologies now views the Ghassul sequence falling between Late Neolithic Jericho and the Beersheban Chalcolithic.
    • The Chalcolithic Radiocarbon Record and Its Use in Southern Levantine Archaeology

      Burton, Margie; Levy, Thomas E. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Archaeological evidence suggests that the Chalcolithic period (5th–4th millennium BCE) in the southern Levant was a time of significant settlement expansion and increasing social complexity. Important technological and social developments during this era set the stage for the later rise of fortified sites and nascence of urbanization in the Early Bronze Age. Controversy surrounding the chronology of Chalcolithic settlement and the reconstruction of social trajectories has stimulated an interest in building a database of radiocarbon dates to measure the tempo of change and help resolve these issues. To facilitate social evolutionary research, this paper reviews and updates published 14C data for the southern Levantine Chalcolithic. The now-substantial database supports the generally accepted time frame for this archaeological period and allows synchronic comparisons across diverse geographic subregions in the southern Levant. In addition, it helps to temporally place the emergence of sophisticated technologies and the development of complex social institutions within the Chalcolithic period. However, radiometrically based attempts at pan-regional internal periodization of the Chalcolithic and fine-tuning of protohistoric events such as site establishment and abandonment are frustrated by the lack of precision in 14C dates, which limits their ability to resolve chronological sequence. Improved delineation of Chalcolithic social trajectories can be achieved most effectively by focussing research efforts on stratigraphic and typological investigations of deeply-stratified settlement sites such as Teleilat Ghassul and Shiqmim within their local contexts.
    • Settlement Patterns in the Southern Levant Deserts During the 6th-3rd Millennia BC: A Revision Based on 14C Dating

      Avner, Uzi; Carmi, Israel (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Archaeological surveys conducted in the Negev and Sinai during the 20th century were commonly interpreted as representing short settlement periods interrupted by long gaps. The time factor was usually based on archaeological estimates rather than comprehensive physical dating. For example, the perceived age and time duration of “hole-mouth” pottery sherds and tabular flint scrapers became a source of circular reasoning to “date” sites and their “duration.” Thus, desert sites became to be perceived as temporary, seasonal, short-lived, while the cultures of desert populations were somehow undervalued. However, radiocarbon dating of desert sites from the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age IV presents a very different scenario. The deserts of the Southern Levant exhibit a full sequence of settlement, a longer life span of individual sites, and a higher level of activity and creativity of the desert people. This paper describes the controversy and presents the 14C data that form the basis for the revised view.
    • Radiocarbon Datings from the Almaqah Temple of Bar'an, Ma'rib, Republic of Yemen: Approximately 800 Cal BC to 600 Cal AD

      Görsdorf, Jochen; Vogt, Burkhardt (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Ma’rib is the most famous archaeological site in Yemen. The economical importance of Ma’rib resulted from an ecosystem that was based on irrigation and existed already in the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. In the middle of the 8th century BC Ma’rib rose to the capital of Saba and became the economical and cultural center of southern Arabia. In 1975 the German Archaeological Institute began to investigate and document the antique oasis systematically. Radiocarbon datings were of great importance for clarification of the building’s history. Dating series extend from the 10th century BC to the 12th century AD. The temple, of which four building phases could be observed up to now, was used from 9th century BC till the end of the 4th century AD
    • Radiocarbon Dating in Near-Eastern Contexts: Confusion and Quality Control

      van der Plicht, Johannes; Bruins, Hendrik J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Near-Eastern archaeology has long remained oblivious to radiocarbon dating as unique historical calendars brought about a perception that 14C dating is superfluous. Circular chronological reasoning may occur as a result. There is now strong 14C evidence that the early part of Egyptian history seems older than age assessments currently in vogue among scholars. It is vital to apply systematic and high-quality 14C dating to each and every excavation in the Near East to measure time with the same yardstick. Such a strategy will enable chronological comparison of different areas at an excavation site and also between sites and regions, independent of cultural deliberations. This is essential for proper interpretation of archaeological layers and association with data from other fields. Radiocarbon (14C) is the most common radiometric dating tool applied in archaeology, geosciences, and environmental research. Stringent quality control is required to build up a reliable 14C chronology for the historical periods in Near-Eastern contexts. Important aspects of quality control involve regular laboratory intercomparisons, transparent duplicate and triplicate analysis of selected samples, conventional versus accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) (i.e. Sample size), sample selection and association. Finally, bones may provide short-lived dates in important stratigraphic archaeological contexts.
    • Radiocarbon Dates of Old and Middle Kingdom Monuments in Egypt

      Bonani, Georges; Haas, Herbert; Hawass, Zahi; Lehner, Mark; Nakhla, Shawki; Nolan, John; Wenke, Robert; Wölfli, Willy (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Between 1984 and 1995 over 450 organic samples were collected from monuments built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms. The most suitable samples were selected for dating. The purpose was to establish a radiocarbon chronology with samples from secure context and collected with the careful techniques required for 14C samples. This chronology is compared to the historical chronology established by reconstructing written documentation.
    • Radiocarbon Dates from Iron Age Strata at Tel Beth Shean and Tel Rehov

      Mazar, Amihai; Carmi, Israel (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      We discuss the significance of 32 radiocarbon dates from the archaeological sites of Tel Beth Shean and Tel Rehov in northern Israel. All dates are from Iron Age I and II archaeological contexts (12th–8th centuries BCE). Most of the dates were done on short-lived samples (seeds and olive pits), while some are on charred timber. The samples are organized in several homogeneous clusters according to their context. This series is one of the largest groups of 14C dates from the Iron Age in the Levant. The paper discusses the correlation between the 14C dates and the traditional archaeological dates of the same context. Results from two laboratories and two calibration curves are compared, showing some significant differences in one case. We conclude with an evaluation of the relevance of 14C dating for the current debate about the chronology of the Iron Age in Israel, and in historical periods in general.
    • Radiocarbon Chronology of the Holocene Dead Sea: Attempting a Regional Correlation

      Frumkin, Amos; Kadan, Galit; Enzel, Yehouda; Eyal, Yehuda (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Holocene sedimentary and geomorphic sequences from the Dead Sea region, Israel, are compared by correlation of more than 50 radiocarbon dates. The 14C dates provided the chronological basis that enabled us to detect basin-scale events that are hard to ascertain in single-site records. This paper is the first attempt to compare different Holocene records from several sites along the Dead Sea, based on their chronostratigraphy. Included is the first publication of the paleoclimatic record of the Nahal Darga ephemeral stream valley. Such a regional compilation is needed, because only the integration and comparative evaluation of several records can produce a reliable climatic history by establishing the height of former Dead Sea levels that may be complicated by tectonics and the rise of Mount Sedom. A relatively high level of the Holocene Dead Sea occurred during the mid-Holocene around 4400 BP or about 3000 cal BCE after calibration. The lake level fell sharply around 4000 BP, i.e. 2500 cal BCE, and later fluctuated close to early 20th century levels. The 14C-based correlation is also used to estimate the rising rates of the Mount Sedom salt diapir that are apparently smaller than 10 mm per year
    • Radiocarbon Challenges Archaeo-Historical Time Frameworks in the Near East: The Early Bronze Age of Jericho in Relation to Egypt

      Bruins, Hendrik J.; van der Plicht, Johannes (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Our stratified radiocarbon dates from EB Jericho (Trench III) on short-lived material are significantly older than conventional archaeo-historical time frameworks. The calibrated 14C date of Stage XV Phase li-lii (Early to Middle EB-I Kenyon) is 100–450 years older. Stage XVI Phase lxi-lxii (Early EB-II Kenyon) is 200–500 years older. Stage XVI Phase lxii-lxiii (destructive end EB-II) is 200–300 years older. Stage XVII Phase lxviii a – lxix a (Early EB-III) is 100–300 years older than conventional archaeo-historical time estimates. As the beginning of the Chalcolithic in the Near East has “become” a 1000 years older, from about 4000 in the 1960s to about 5000 BC in current perception based on 14C dating, it should not be surprising that the Early Bronze Age and related Egyptian Dynasties also yield 14C dates that are older by a few hundred years than current archaeo-historical time frameworks. Egyptian chronology should not be regarded as ultimately fixed. Egyptologists in the first half of the 20th century gave much older dates for the earlier Dynasties. The new 14C evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of an older Early Bronze Age and older dates for Dynasties 1–6.
    • Proto, Early Dynastic Egypt, and Early Bronze I-II of the Southern Levant: Some Uneasy 14C Correlations

      Braun, Eliot (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      A number of recent radiocarbon determinations from several sites in Israel suggest advancing, by some considerable period of time, both the onset of the cultural horizon known as Early Bronze I and the appearance of its latest phases.The logical outcome of the acceptance of these new dates puts such a strain on chronological correlations between the 14C data and the archaeological record that the entire system would no longer be tenable if they were accepted. This paper examines in detail the problematic nature of these “uneasy correlations.”
    • Proto-Neolithic and Neolithic Cultures in the Middle East—The Birth of Agriculture, Livestock Raising, and Ceramics: A Calibrated 14C Chronology 12,500-5500 Cal BC

      Aurenche, O.; Galet, P.; Régagnon-Caroline, E.; Évin, J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      We present for the first time a fully calibrated radiocarbon chronology of Proto-Neolithic and Neolithic cultures in the Middle East covering the time range from 12,500 to 5500 cal BC. A total of 1300 14C dates were evaluated, leading to the selection of 731 reliable dates. These were calibrated in a special collective approach presented in a series of graphs.The 14C dates are derived from 160 sites across the Middle East. The period with Proto-Neolithic cultures began around 12500 cal BC and lasted for more than 4000 years. The true Neolithic, with agriculture and livestock breeding, appeared just before 8000 cal BC, subsequently spreading across a wide area within just a few hundred years. Ceramics first occurred around 7000 cal BC. The Mesopotamian cultures that emerged around 6000 cal BC started the urban revolution.
    • Precision of Calibrated Radiocarbon Ages of Historic Earthquakes in the Dead Sea Basin

      Ken-Tor, Revital; Stein, Mordechai; Enzel, Yehouda; Agnon, Amotz; Marco, Shmuel; Negendank, Jorg F. W. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      The precise determination of the age of historical and geological events by radiocarbon dating is often hampered by the long intersection ranges of the measured data with the calibration curve. In this study we examine the possibility of narrowing the calibrated range of the 14C ages of earthquake-disturbed sediments (seismites) from the Late Holocene lacustrine section in the Dead Sea Basin. The calibrated ranges of samples collected from seismites were refined by applying stratigraphic constraints and tuning the calibrated ranges to known historical earthquakes. Most of the earthquakes fall well within the 1-sigma error envelope of the 14C age. This refinement demonstrates that the lag period due to transport and deposition of vegetation debris is very short in this arid environment, probably not more than a few decades. This assessment of seismite 14C ages attests to the validity of 14C ages in Holocene sediments of the arid area of the Dead Sea. Furthermore, it demonstrates our ability to achieve highly precise (correct to within several decades) 14C ages.
    • New Dates from Submerged Late Pleistocene Sediments in the Southern Sea of Galilee, Israel

      Nadel, D.; Belitzky, S.; Boaretto, E.; Carmi, I.; Heinemeier, J.; Werker, E.; Marco, S. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Unusual low water levels in the Sea of Galilee (Dead Sea Fault, Israel) have caused the recent exposure of submerged Late Pleistocene prehistoric sites and lacustrine sediments along the southern shores of the lake. The Ohalo II site is a large fisher-hunter-gatherers camp with in-situ brush hut floors, hearths, and a human grave. The site is radiometrically dated by 25 charcoal dates to 19,430 BP (average, uncalibrated). The archaeological remains include quantities of excellently preserved organic remains. These would not have been preserved without a rapid rise of lake level immediately after the occupation, covering the remains with silts and sand. Recently a concentration of eight tree trunks were found about 1.5 km south of Ohalo II, of which five trunks were identified as Salix species and dated as a single accumulation at about 16,100 BP. The trunks, too, had to be submerged quickly together to ensure excellent preservation. The camp and the trunks were found at –212/–213 m, almost 4 m below modern high water levels. We suggest that the finds represent two separate episodes of deposition during low lake levels, almost 3,000 radiocarbon years apart, each followed by an abrupt water rise. It is possible that climatic changes caused the observed fluctuations, though earthquakes (blocking or lowering the Jordan outlet, for example) cannot be ruled out.
    • New Radiocarbon Dates for the Reed Mat from the Cave of the Treasure, Israel

      Aardsma, Gerald E. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Modern radiocarbon dates were procured for the Cave of the Treasure, Israel reed mat at the University of Arizona accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) laboratory in late 1999 and early 2000. Three samples from various locations on the mat were dated. One of these samples was dated twice, and another was dated three times, yielding a total of six new radiocarbon dates on the mat. The new 14C dates overturn expectations of a late Chalcolithic, roughly 3500 BC, date for the origin of the mat. It is suggested that the mat may not have been of common use but may rather have been a religious heirloom with a history stretching back into the early Chalcolithic.
    • Near East Chronology: Towards an Integrated 14C Time Foundation

      Bruins, Hendrik J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Chronology is the backbone of all history, as the flow of time is identical in scholarly and scientific fields, even in the Near East. Radiocarbon dating can provide an essential and unifying chronological basis across disciplines, despite precision limitations. This issue presents exciting new 14C developments in archaeological and environmental contexts, ranging from Proto-Neolithic cultures to historic earthquakes along the Dead Sea. Dark periods devoid of settlement in the deserts of the southern Levant seem to disappear with 14C dating. Significant new findings collectively indicate the need for major chronological revisions in the 4th and 3rd millennia BCE in Egypt and the Levant. The implications for the 2nd millennium BCE are not yet established, but the use of 14C dating in the Iron Age is finally beginning to focus on current controversies. The chronological way forward for Dynastic Egypt and the Levantine Bronze and Iron Ages is a multi-disciplinary approach based on detailed high-quality 14C series as a unifying time foundation to anchor archaeological, textual, and astronomical data.
    • Load Structure Seismites in the Dead Sea Area, Israel: Chronological Benchmarking with 14C Dating

      Bowman, D.; Bruins, H. J.; van der Plicht, J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      The Dead Sea is a terminal lake located in the seismically active zone of the Syro–African Rift Valley. The water level of the Dead Sea has been receding dramatically during the last decades, resulting in significant entrenchment of wadis towards its shores. Exposed sections in fan deltas reveal abruptly changing facies of alluvial fan, beach, and shallow lacustrine environments. Our study focuses on soft sediment deformations of the load–structure type. Though of limited lateral extent, their field characteristics concur with the widely accepted criteria that define seismites. This paper demonstrates the potential of load–structures as seismic–chronological benchmarks through radiocarbon dating. We present the first evidence of 14C correlation between two types of seismites in different locations: load structure and mixed layer.
    • Excavations at Ma'layba and Sabir, Republic of Yemen: Radiocarbon Datings in the Period 1900 to 800 Cal BC

      Görsdorf, Jochen; Vogt, Burkhardt (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      The Bronze and Iron Age cultures in Yemen have no parallels to the well dated cultures in the Syro-Palestinian region. Radiocarbon datings are therefore exceptionally important for the Yemenite archaeological excavation sites of Ma’layba and Sabir, the latter being the largest excavation site of the Sabir culture. Dating series were done in order to determine the architectural development of the sites and find time marks for the ceramic development. Sample materials were dated from the 2nd and 1st millennium before Christ. The 14C dating results allow statements about the cultural development in Ma’layba and Sabir as well as a comparison with the development of other regions in the surrounding, independent of only sparse available archaeological parallels.