Skip to main content Accessibility help

14C Bomb Peak Analysis of African Elephant Tusks and its Relation to Cites

  • Eva M Wild (a1), Walter Kutschera (a1), Annemarie Meran (a2) and Peter Steier (a1)


We report on a case study of radiocarbon (14C) measurements applied to three pairs of tusks from African elephants, which were supposedly hunted in the 1960s in Tanzania and/or Kenya. The 14C results of 1.40 to 1.60 F14C fall into 14C bomb peak values between 1960 and 1975, thus confirming the suspected hunting time. Since the trading of ivory from African elephants killed after 1989 was banned by the international CITES convention, the investigated tusks are not affected by this ban.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email:


Hide All

Selected Papers from the 23rd International Radiocarbon Conference, Trondheim, Norway, 17–22 June, 2018



Hide All
Austrian Government, Bundesgesetzblatt Nr.188/1982,
Austrian Government, Bundesgesetzblatt Nr. 41/1990,
Biggs, D, Holden, MH, Braczkowski, A, Cook, CN, Milner-Gulland, EJ, Phelps, J, Scholes, RJ, Smith, RJ, Underwood, FM, Adams, VM, Allan, J, Brink, H, Cooney, R, Gao, Y, Hutton, J, Macdonald-Madden, E, Maron, M, Redford, KH, Sutherland, WJ, Possingham, HP. 2017. Breaking the deadlock on ivory. Science 358:13781381.
Bjork, BJ, Bui, TQ, Heckl, OH, Changala, PB, Spaun, B, Heu, P, Follman, D, Deutsch, C, Cole, GD, Aspelmeyer, M, Okumura, M, Ye, J. 2016. Direct frequency comb measurement of OD + CODOCO kinetics. Science 354:444448.
Caforio, L, Fedi, ME, Mando, PA, Minarelli, F, Peccenini, E, Pellicori, V, Petrucci, FC, Schwartzbaum, P, Taccetti, F. 2014. Discovering forgeries of modern art by the 14C bomb peak. European Physical Journal Plus 129(6):15.
Cerling, TE, Barnette, JE, Chesson, LA, Douglas-Hamilton, I, Gobush, KS, Uno, KT, Wasser, SK, Xu, X. 2016. Radiocarbon dating of seized ivory confirm a rapid decline in African elephant populations and provides insight into illegal trade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113:13330.
CITES agreement. 1973. Available at:
Frisén, J. 2016. Neurogenesis and gliogenesis in nervous system plasticity and repair. Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology 32:127141.
Grimm, D. 2008. The mushroom cloud’s silver lining. Science 321:14341437.
Hamady, LL, Natanson, LJ, Skomal, GB, Thorrold, SR. 2014. Vertebral bomb radiocarbon suggests extreme longevity in white sharks. PlosOne 9(1):e84006.
Hua, Q, Barbetti, M, Rakowski, AZ. 2013. Atmospheric radiocarbon for the period 1950–2010. Radiocarbon 55(4):20592072.
Kutschera, W. 2013. Applications of accelerator mass spectrometry. International Journal of Mass Spectrometry 349–350:203218.
Levin, I, Hesshaimer, V. 2000. Radiocarbon—a unique tracer of global carbon cycle dynamics. Radiocarbon 42(1):6980.
Levin, I, Naegler, T, Kromer, B, Diehl, M, Francey, RJ, Gomez-Pelaez, AJ, Steele, P, Wagenbach, D, Weller, R, Worthy, DE. 2010. Observation and modelling of the global distribution and long-term trend of atmospheric 14CO2. Tellus 62B:2646.
Longin, R. 1971. A new method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230:241242.
Nielsen, J, Hedeholm, RB, Heinemeier, J, Bushnell, PG, Christiansen, JS, Olsen, J, Bronk Ramsey, C, Brill, RW, Simon, M, Steffensen, KF, Steffensen, JF. 2016. Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus). Science 353:702704.
Reimer, PJ, Brown, TA, Reimer, RW. 2004 Discussion: reporting and calibration of post-bomb 14C data, Radiocarbon 46(3):12991304.
Rumpelmayr, K. 2012. Reconstructing diet by stable isotope analysis (δ13C and δ15N): two case studies from Bronze Age and Early Medieval Lower Austria [PhD thesis]. University of Vienna. Available at:
Spalding, KL, Bhardwaj, RD, Buchholz, BA, Druid, H, Frisén, J. 2005. Retrospective birth dating of cells in humans. Cell 122:133143.
Steier, P, Dellinger, F, Kutschera, W, Priller, A, Rom, W, Wild, EM. 2004. Pushing the precision limit of 14C AMS. Radiocarbon 46(1):516.
Wasser, SK, Torelson, A, Winters, M, Horeaux, Y, Tucker, S, Otiende, MY, Sitam, FAT, Buckleton, J, Weir, BS. 2018. Combating transnational organized crime by linking multiple large ivory seizures to the same dealer. Sci. Adv. 4: eaat0625. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat0625.
Wild, E, Golser, R, Hille, P, Kutschera, W, Priller, A, Puchegger, S, Rom, W, Steier, P, Vycudilik, W. 1998. First 14C results from archaeological and forensic studies at the Vienna Environmental Research Accelerator. Radiocarbon 40:273281.
Wild, EM, Arlamovsky, KA, Golser, R, Kutschera, W, Priller, A, Puchegger, S, Rom, W, Steier, P, Vycudilik, W. 2000. 14C dating with the bomb peak: An application to forensic medicine. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172:944950.
Wild, EM, Chr, Neugebauer-Maresch, Einwögerer Th, Stadler P, Steier, P. Brock, F. 2008. 14C-dating of the Upper Paleolithic site at Krems-Hundssteig in lower Austria. Radiocarbon 50(1):110


14C Bomb Peak Analysis of African Elephant Tusks and its Relation to Cites

  • Eva M Wild (a1), Walter Kutschera (a1), Annemarie Meran (a2) and Peter Steier (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed