• 14C Wiggle Matching of the 'Floating' Tree-Ring Chronology from the Altai Mountains, Southern Siberia: The Ulkandryk-4 Case Study

      Slusarenko, I. Y.; Christen, J. A.; Orlova, L. A.; Kuzmin, Yaroslav V.; Burr, George S. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      The Bayesian approach to calibration of radiocarbon dates was used to wiggle-match the "floating" tree-ring chronology from a Pazyryk culture (Scythian-type complex from Sayan-Altai Mountain system, southern Siberia) burial ground in order to estimate the calendar age of its construction. Seventeen bidecadal tree-ring samples were 14C dated with high precision (+/20-30 yr). The results of wiggle-matching show that the Pazyryk-type burial mounds in the southern Altai Mountains were created in the first part of 3rd century BC.
    • A Fresh Water Diet-Derived 14C Reservoir Effect at the Stone Age Sites in the Iron Gates Gorge

      Cook, Gordon T.; Bonsall, C.; Hedges, Robert E. M.; McSweeney, K.; Boronean, V.; Pettitt, Paul B. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      Human bones from single inhumation burials and artifacts made from terrestrial mammal (ungulate) bone found in direct association with the skeletons were obtained from the Stone Age site of Schela Cladovei situated just below the Iron Gates Gorge of the River Danube. The results of stable isotope analyses of the human bone collagen are consistent with a heavy dependence on aquatic protein while radiocarbon dating of the samples reveals an offset of 300-500 years between the two sample types, indicating a freshwater reservoir effect in the human bone samples. Since protein consumption is by far the major source of nitrogen in the human diet we have assumed a linear relationship between delta-15N and the level of aquatic protein in each individual's diet and derived a calibration for 14C age offset versus delta-15N which has been applied to a series of results from the site at Lepenski Vir within the gorge. The corrected 14C ages (7310-6720 BP) are now consistent with the previous 14C age measurements made on charcoal from related contexts (7360-6560 BP). In addition, the data indicate a change from a primarily aquatic to a mixed terrestrial/aquatic diet around 7100 BP and this may be argued as supporting a shift from Mesolithic to Neolithic. This study also has wider implications for the accurate dating of human bone samples when the possibility exists of an aquatic component in the dietary protein and strongly implies that delta-15N analysis should be undertaken routinely when dating human bones.
    • Radiocarbon Dating of Single Compounds Isolated from Pottery Cooking Vessel Residues

      Stott, A. W.; Berstan, R.; Evershed, P.; Hedges, Robert E. M.; Bronk Ramsey, Christopher; Humm, M. J. (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      We have developed and demonstrated a practical methodology for dating specific compounds (and octadecanoic or stearic acid—C18:0—in particular) from the lipid material surviving in archaeological cooking pots. Such compounds may be extracted from about 10 g of cooking potsherd, and, after derivatization, can be purified by gas chromatography. To obtain sufficient material for precise dating repetitive, accumulating, GC separation is necessary. Throughout the 6000-year period studied, and over a variety of site environments within England, dates on C18:0 show no apparent systematic error, but do have a greater variability than can be explained by the errors due to the separation chemistry and measurement process alone. This variability is as yet unexplained. Dates on C16:0 show greater variability and a systematic error of approximately 100-150 years too young, and it is possible that this is due to contamination from the burial environment. Further work should clarify this.
    • Transition Dating' – A Heuristic Mathematical Approach to the Collation of Radiocarbon Dates from Stratified Sequences

      Sharon, Ilan (Department of Geosciences, The University of Arizona, 2001-01-01)
      A heuristic approach, nicknamed "transition dating," was used to date sequences of early Iron Age contexts using a series of 14C determinations. The basic principles of transition dating are simple and intuitive: 1) attempt to date transitions between periods, phases, etc. Rather than the phases themselves, and 2) the most plausible date for that transition is one that is later than the dates from contexts preceding it, and is still earlier than the dates succeeding it. Hypotheses regarding the actual date of each transition may be evaluated using an appropriate loss function. These loss functions can also be adjusted or weighted by the user to account differentially for the various factors causing the distortion or "fuzz" in the dates.