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Removal of Contaminants from Oracle Bones During Sample Pretreatment

  • Sixun Yuan (a1), Xiaohong Wu (a1), Kexin Liu (a2), Zhiyu Guo (a2), Xiaolin Cheng (a1) (a3), Yan Pan (a1) and Jinxia Wang (a4)...

Abstract

Animal bones and tortoise shells were used for divination by the Chinese royal family during the Shang Dynasty (∼16th–11th century BC), and the divination results were recorded as inscriptions on oracle bones and shells, which are very valuable cultural remains and record many important events in the Shang Dynasty period. Thus, radiocarbon dating of oracle bones was used to build a precise chronology of the late Shang Dynasty. Due to their original burial conditions and the fact that in subsequent decades the pieces were traded or archived in museums, oracle bones are expected to be contaminated with exogenous materials from the environment and the conservation process. During dating, we found that some samples were contaminated by conservation chemical reagents. The contaminated samples were purified by removing exogenous chemicals with a series of organic solvents, in a method modified from Bruhn et al. (2001). Both whole bone and gelatin samples were processed with this purification method, resulting in satisfactory improvements in dating results.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Email: yuansx@pku.edu.cn

References

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