To save this undefined to your undefined account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your undefined account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure firstname.lastname@example.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
The development of chronologies relies on integrating information from a number of different sources. In addition to direct dating evidence, such as radiocarbon dates, researchers will have contextual information which might be an environmental sequence or the context in an archaeological site. This information can be combined through Bayesian or other types of age-model. Once a chronology has been developed, this information can be used to estimate, for example, chronological uncertainties, rates of change, or the age of material which has not been directly dated.
Dealing with the information associated with chronology building is complicated and re-evaluation of chronologies often requires structured information which is hard to access. Although there are many databases with primary dating information, these often do not contain all of the information needed for a chronology. The Chronological Query Language (CQL) developed for OxCal was intended to be a convenient way of pulling such information together for Bayesian analysis. However, even this does not include much of the associated information required for reusing data in other analyses.
The IntChron initiative builds on the framework set up for the INTIMATE (Integrating Ice core, Marine and Terrestrial Records) chronological database (Bronk Ramsey et al. 2014) and is primarily an information exchange format and data visualization tool which enables users to pull together the types of information needed for chronological analysis. It is intended for use with multiple dating methodologies and while it will be integrated with OxCal, is intended to be an open format suitable for use with other software tools. The file format is JSON which is easily readable in software such as R, Python and MatLab. IntChron is not primarily intended to be a data depository but rather an index of sites where information is stored in the relevant format. As an initial step, databases of radiocarbon dates from the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (including those for the NERC radiocarbon facility), the RESET tephra database, the INTIMATE chronological database and regional radiocarbon databases for Egypt and Southern Africa are all linked. The intention is that users of OxCal will also be able to make published data accessible to others and to store working data, visible only to the user, to be used with the associated analysis tools. The IntChron site allows data from third party sources to be accessed through a representational state transfer (REST) application programming interface (API) in a number of different formats (JSON, csv, txt, oxcal) and associated bibliographic information in BibTeX format.
The aim of the IntChron initiative is to make it easy for users to provide data (in the single JSON format with limited minimum requirements) as well as to access data and tools, while promoting robust chronologies including realistic estimates of uncertainties. It is hoped that this will help to bring the chronological research communities to a point where data access is as easy as it is in some other fields. This is particularly important for Early Career Researchers and for those seeking to use large datasets in novel ways.
The modern antiquities market uses radiocarbon (14C) dating to screen for forged objects. Although this fact shows the potential and power of the method, the circumstances where it is applied can be questionable and call for our attention. Here we present an outline of a call to radiocarbon laboratories for due diligence and best practice approaches to the analysis of antique objects requested by non-research clients.
The half-life of radiocarbon (14C) is 5700 ± 30 yr, which makes it particularly useful for dating in archaeology. However, only an exceptional hindrance of the beta decay from 14C to 14N—a so-called Gamow-Teller ß-decay—makes this half-life so long. A normal strength would result in a half-life of only a few days, completely useless for archaeological dating. The unusual hindrance is based on the nuclear structure of the two nuclei, resulting in strongly destructive interferences of the nuclear transition matrix element. Nuclear model calculation with great computational efforts have been performed in the literature to reproduce the very low transition probability. Here, we will attempt to describe the nuclear physics behind this most unusual half-life.
Since 1993 Historic England (and its predecessor English Heritage) has commissioned 9074 radiocarbon (14C) measurements on archaeological samples. Over 80% of these have been interpreted within formal Bayesian statistical models. The multiple strands of reinforcing evidence incorporated in these models provide precise chronologies that make stringent demands on the accuracy of the 14C results included in the analysis. Inter-laboratory replication is consequently a routine part of model construction and validation. We report an analysis of replicate measurements on 1089 archaeological samples. It is clear that laboratory reproducibility accounts for only part of the observed variation. The type of material dated is also critical to the reproducibility of measurements, with some sample types proving particularly problematic.
Radiocarbon (14C) dating is routinely used, yet occasionally, issues still arise surrounding laboratory offsets, and unexpected and unexplained variability. Quality assurance and quality control have long been recognized as important in addressing the two issues of comparability (or bias, accuracy) and uncertainty or variability (or precision) of measurements both within and between laboratories (Long and Kalin 1990). The 14C community and the wider user communities have supported interlaboratory comparisons as one of several strands to ensure the quality of measurements (Scott et al. 2018). The nature of the intercomparisons has evolved as the laboratory characteristics have changed s. The next intercomparison is currently being planned to take place in 2019–2020. The focus of our work in designing intercomparisons is to (1) assist laboratories by contributing to their QA/QC processes, (2) supplement and enhance our suite of reference materials that are available to laboratories, (3) provide consensus 14C values with associated (small) uncertainties for performance checking, and (4) provide estimates of laboratory offsets and error multipliers which can inform subsequent modeling and laboratory improvements.
While assessing the environmental impact of nuclear power plants, researchers have focused their attention on radiocarbon (14C) owing to its high mobility in the environment and important radiological impact on human beings. The 10 MW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTR-10) is the first pebble-bed gas-cooled test reactor in China that adopted helium as primary coolant and graphite spheres containing tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) coated particles as fuel elements. A series of experiments on the 14C source terms in HTR-10 was conducted: (1) measurement of the specific activity and distribution of typical nuclides in the irradiated graphite spheres from the core, (2) measurement of the activity concentration of 14C in the primary coolant, and (3) measurement of the amount of 14C discharged in the effluent from the stack. All experimental data on 14C available for HTR-10 were summarized and analyzed using theoretical calculations. A sensitivity study on the total porosity, open porosity, and percentage of closed pores that became open after irradiating the matrix graphite was performed to illustrate their effects on the activity concentration of 14C in the primary coolant and activity amount of 14C in various deduction routes.
A radiocarbon (14C) activity analysis in the tree rings around Ignalina nuclear power plant (INPP) has been carried out with the aim to test the hypothesis to use 14C tree-ring analysis data as a tool for the reconstruction of gaseous releases from NPP to the environment. The INPP has been in decommissioning state since the end of 2009. Tree-ring samples for 14C analysis were collected 7 yr after final power unit shutdown from the INPP vicinity. The samples from 5 sampling locations were collected, prepared and measured using the Single Stage Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (SSAMS). Data analysis represents observable Ignalina NPP influence by 14C increase up to 15 pMC (percent modern carbon) in tree rings. Good correlations of the 14C concentrations and wind direction were obtained. The main purpose of this article was to match 14C measurement data along with the atmospheric dispersion modeling of emissions in order to retrospectively characterize the emission source.
Deciduous tree leaf and grass samples were collected in Debrecen, the second largest city in Hungary. The aim of the study was to determine the rate of fossil fuel-derived carbon in urban vegetation. At the locations sampled, C3 and C4 plants close to roads were collected in September 2017. In total, 82 tree and grass leaf samples were gathered at 36 different sampling points all over the city of Debrecen. The radiocarbon (14C) results of the samples were compared to the local urban background atmospheric 14CO2 data to determine the percentage of the fossil fuel-derived carbon in the plants. Based on our results, the average fossil carbon content in the tree and grass leaf samples were 0.9 ± 1.2% and 2.5 ± 2.5%, respectively. The highest fossil carbon content was 9.6 ± 0.6% in a grass and 4.7 ± 0.7% in a tree leaf sample. It appears that the negative fossil carbon content results obtained at urban sampling areas reflect modern carbon emission, where radiocarbon content is higher than the corresponding local background, presumably due burning of recent wood containing bomb 14C in the suburbs as well as other possible sources such as litter decomposition or soil CO2 emission.
In this paper, we present the results of the accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon (AMS14C) dating campaign performed on samples selected from different levels in Grotta Romanelli (Castro, Italy). Grotta Romanelli is one of the key sites for the chronology of Middle Pleistocene–Holocene in Mediterranean region. After the first excavation campaigns carried out in the first decades of the 1900s, the cave has been systematically re-excavated only since 2015. During the last excavation campaigns different faunal remains were selected and submitted for 14C dating in order to confirm the chronology of the cave with a higher resolution. Isotopic ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) measurements were also carried out on faunal remains.
We analyzed rare wooden Komainu found at Akagami Shrine in Akita prefecture, Japan. The formation of historical objects is often thoroughly recorded in documents, although the formation age of this particular Komainu sculpture is still unknown due to its antiquity. Thus, age determination exercises have been conducted using radiocarbon (14C)-wiggle-matching techniques. Although only a limited quantity was available for sampling, we have successfully measured 14C samples in the sculptures along with several sets of tree rings. We interpret the Komainu sculptures age considering the age of the trees and the result obtained from the wooden construction materials used for the Akagami shrine. The results obtained from Komainu show a range from 550 CE to 1020 CE, which is consistent with the dates of the shrine’s formation. Thus, the multiple 14C-wiggle-matching method can determine precise calendar ages of wood, as well as provide some supportive information for the periods when there are no reliable historical documents.
Luristan Iron Mask Swords have been recovered mostly from illegal diggings in the 1920s. The about 90 known objects are characterized by a disk-shaped pommel on the top of the handle with two mounted bearded heads on two sides. According to the similarity in form and radiocarbon (14C) measurements on two swords from museum collections, an overall short production period was assumed around 1000 BC (Moorey 1991; Rehder 1991). Here we present the results of metallurgical analysis and 14C measurements for three newly acquired Luristan swords, which were donated to the Royal Museums of Art & History, Brussels. Metallurgical analysis indicates an iron production via the bloomary furnace technique. Analyzed samples show large slag inclusions (Fayalite, Wüstite, glass) within a mostly ferritic and pearlitic iron. The carbon contents varied between 0.2 wt% to around 0.8 wt%). 14C measurements on thermally extracted carbon give 14C ages between 2800 BP–3360 BP (calibrated ∼1745 BC–900 BC). The reliability of the 14C measurements are discussed with respect to external (contamination during handling) and intrinsic contamination (e.g. fossil carbon sources during manufacture).
The Aqueduct is one of the city landmarks of Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia. It was part of a water-supply system, with a total original length of about 10 km, while its surface remains are about 385 m long. The age of the Aqueduct is not known—several hypotheses place it to periods between the 6th and 16th centuries. Six mortar samples from different positions of the eastern façade were taken for radiocarbon (14C) dating. In order to extract only the carbon associated to the time of building, three strategies for sample preparation were used: (1) mechanical separation of lime lumps formed during mortar hardening (2) selection on the basis of particle size and the ability to suspend in water induced by ultrasonic shock, and (3) collection of two gas CO2 fractions produced from the same bulk in reaction with acid. Characterization of fractions was performed by isotopic carbon composition and FTIR-ATR analyses. The most plausible results were obtained from lime lump fractions that were dated in the timeframe of 15th to 17th century.
Hala Sultan Tekke is a large Bronze Age city located on the southeastern littoral of Cyprus. The city flourished from approximately 1650 BC to 1150 BC according to the archaeological evidence. Since 2010, Swedish excavations have exposed four new city quarters (CQ1–4) with three occupational phases, the 14C dating of which is of highest importance also for other contemporaneous cultures. The finds demonstrate vast intercultural connections in the Mediterranean and even with southern Scandinavia. In 2014, roughly 500 m to the east of CQ1, one of the richest cemeteries on the island was discovered. According to the archaeological evidence, the finds from the city date mainly to the 13th and 12th centuries BC. However, many of the wealthy tombs and the offering pits from the cemetery are considerably older with the oldest finds dating to the 16th century BC. This raises the question where the city quarters belonging to the oldest finds from the cemetery are situated. The radiocarbon (14C) dates from Hala Sultan Tekke have much influence on the dating of related sites because of numerous imports from a vast area. We present here new 14C data obtained in the course of the current excavations, which add to sets of already existing data.
This research investigates two factors influencing the ability of tree-ring data to provide accurate 14C calibration information: the fitness and rigor of the statistical model used to combine the data into a curve; and the accuracy, precision and reproducibility of the component 14C data sets. It presents a new Bayesian spline method for calibration curve construction and tests it on extant and new Southern Hemisphere (SH) data sets (also examining their dendrochronology and pretreatment) for the post-Little Ice Age (LIA) interval AD 1500–1950. The new method of construction allows calculation of component data offsets, permitting identification of laboratory and geographic biases. Application of the new method to the 10 suitable SH 14C data sets suggests that individual offset ranges for component data sets appear to be in the region of ± 10 yr. Data sets with individual offsets larger than this need to be carefully assessed before selection for calibration purposes. We identify a potential geographical offset associated with the Southern Ocean (high latitude) Campbell Island data. We test the new methodology for wiggle-matching short tree-ring sequences and use an OxCal simulation to assess the likely precision obtainable by wiggle-matching in the post-LIA interval.
Each of the laboratory intercomparisons (from ICS onwards) has included wood samples, many of them dendrochronologically dated. In the early years, as a result of the majority of laboratories being radiometric, these samples were typically blocks of 20–40 rings, but more recently (SIRI), they have been single ring samples. The sample ages have spanned background through to modern. In some intercomparisons, we have examined different wood pretreatment effects, in others the focus has been on background samples. In this paper, we illustrate what we have learned from these extensive intercomparisons involving wood samples and how the results contribute to the global IntCal effort.
Two tree-ring series, one from a high-latitude pine tree (located in northern Scandinavia) and one from a mid-latitude oak tree (located in eastern Germany) were analyzed for radiocarbon (14C) at annual resolution. The new records cover the calendar date ranges 290–460 AD and 382–486 AD, respectively, overlapping by 79 yr. The series show similar trends as IntCal13. However, some significant deviations around 400 AD are present with lower Δ14C (higher 14C ages). An average offset between the two new series and IntCal13 of about 20 years in conventional 14C age is observed. A latitudinal 14C offset between the tree sites in central and northern Europe, as would be expected due to the relatively large spatial distance, is not recorded, however. Periodic changes in the 14C records are resolved that can be attributed to the “11-year” solar cycle (Schwabe cycle) with cycle length from 9 to 11 years. The magnitude of changes in Δ14C due to the solar cycle is between 1.5 and 3‰. Since solar cyclicity is only partially synchronous between the two new series, reasons for asynchronicity are explored.
Combined dendrochronology and accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon (AMS 14C) dating analyses were used in order to date an old living tree named Italus, growing in the Pollino massif in Southern Italy. Wiggle match AMS 14C dating analysis was performed on a 320-yr-long floating chronology obtained by cross-dating four wood cores extracted from the exposed roots of the tree. Following this approach, an age for the tree of ≈1230 yr was estimated. This age makes Italus the oldest living tree in Europe. High-resolution 14C dating analyses performed on single rings extracted from the tree stem allowed us to identify the 993–994 CE large excursion in atmospheric 14C concentration (Miyake event) revealing for the first time its presence in the Mediterranean basin.
Miyake et al. (2012, 2013, 2014) described a sudden increase of radiocarbon (14C) concentration in annual tree rings of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) and Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) between AD 774 and 775 and between AD 993 and 994. In both analyzed periods, the sudden increase was observed almost in a single year. The increase in the 14C content was about 12‰ in the period AD 774–775 (Miyake et al. 2012) and about 11.3‰ in the period AD 993–994 (Miyake et al. 2013, 2014; Fogtmann-Schultz et al. 2017; Rakowski et al. 2018). A similar increase was observed in 660 BC, with a peak height of about 10‰ (Park et al. 2017). Single-year samples of dendrochronologically dated tree rings of deciduous oak (Quercus robur) from Grabie, a village near Krakow (SE Poland), spanning the years 670–652 BC, were collected and their 14C content was measured using an AMS technique. The results clearly show a rapid increase in the 14C concentration in tree rings around 660 BC similar to this observed in Park et al. (2017).
We present a comparative study on a 700-yr sequence of dendrochronologically ordered tree-rings of Pinus cembra originating from Eastern Carpathians for the period AD 1009–1709. This period covers the solar minima of the Little Ice Age. The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of our radiocarbon (14C) determinations interpreted on the IntCal13 calibration data and to observe any apparent offsets. The 14C measurements on single and double tree-rings were “wiggle-matched” to secure the dendrochronology cross-matching of all the Pinus cembra wood pieces. The results showed a very good agreement between the age datasets for four out of five wood trunks. However, for one of them a new cross-matching was performed after a quality assurance test, establishing an earlier 48-yr position, recommended by wiggle-matching Bayesian statistics and dendrochronological analysis. Following this adjustment, the quantification of the 14C level variability with respect to the IntCal13 calibration curve was obtained by calculating Δ14C for all tree-ring samples. As a final conclusion, an insignificant 14C concentration offset of –0.63 ± 3.76‰ was found for the Romanian samples.