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This paper presents the results of radiocarbon (14C) dating of bulk mortars and reports an attempt of implementation of the knowledge about the isotopic fractionation, based on δ13C measurements, to make the age correction for mortars, together with verification of such correction based on the percentage estimation of carbonate components, namely binder and aggregate. To evaluate the variability of isotopic fractionation during CO2 absorption by mortar, dependent on the climatic and environmental conditions, and the type of mortar, the δ13C measurements have been performed for the mortars from Sussita (Golan Heights). Such measurements were also made for fragments of natural carbonate rocks and for mortars produced in the laboratory from the same substrate. We propose the recipe for mortars age estimation.
An accurate radiocarbon (14C) dating of mortars requires adjusting the sample preparation procedure to each specific mortar composition. In order to follow the influence of mortar components and the preparation procedure on dating results, a mortar intercomparison study (MODIS) was undertaken by 10 organizations (institutes and laboratories) in the analyses of four different types of mortars (see in this issue Hajdas et al. 2017 and Hayen et al. 2017). This paper presents the preparation protocol DoM v.1 applied by the Poznań team, together with dating results on a set of mortar samples used for the of intercomparison. This procedure involved petrographic observations, SEM-EDS analyses, different mechanical-chemical preparation, a test of leaching reaction for available fractions, and finally 14C dating of chosen samples. The applied preparation allows one to obtain dry-sieved grain fractions and different fractions from suspension: grain fractions from suspension collected in different times of leaching, repeated suspension (different portions), as well as suspension collected at different times of sedimentation. The obtained results show the great importance of good sampling and the influence of sample preparation on 14C dating results.
Absolute dating of mortars is crucial when trying to pin down construction phases of archaeological sites and historic stone buildings to a certain point in time or to confirm, but possibly also challenge, existing chronologies. To evaluate various sample preparation methods for radiocarbon (14C) dating of mortars as well as to compare different dating methods, i.e. 14C and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), a mortar dating intercomparison study (MODIS) was set up, exploring existing limits and needs for further research. Four mortar samples were selected and distributed among the participating laboratories: one of which was expected not to present any problem related to the sample preparation methodologies for anthropogenic lime extraction, whereas all others addressed specific known sample preparation issues. Data obtained from the various mortar dating approaches are evaluated relative to the historical framework of the mortar samples and any deviation observed is contextualized to the composition and specific mineralogy of the sampled material.
Seven radiocarbon laboratories: Åbo/Aarhus, CIRCE, CIRCe, ETHZ, Poznań, RICH, and Milano-Bicocca performed separation of carbonaceous fractions suitable for 14C dating of four mortar samples selected for the MOrtar Dating Inter-comparison Study (MODIS). In addition, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) analyses were completed by Milano-Bicocca and IRAMAT-CRP2A Bordeaux. Each laboratory performed separation according to laboratory protocol. Results of this first intercomparison show that even though consistent 14C ages were obtained by different laboratories, two mortars yielded ages different than expected from the archaeological context.
Carbonate binders from mortars and plasters as well as charcoal fragments sampled at the ancient settlement of Hippos (Sussita) have been subjected to radiocarbon dating by gas proportional counting (GPC) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS). Hippos is situated on the east coast of the Sea of Galilee (32°46′N, 35°39′E) at the top of a hill in the Golan Heights area, Israel. According to historical-archaeological data, the town had functioned since the 3rd century BC until AD 749, when it eventually crumbled into ruins after an earthquake. The appropriate sample selection and preparation based on the results of petrographic observations permitted us to distinguish different phases involved in the expansion of the settlement. More than 200 samples were taken from the settlement and subjected to petrographic and chemical analyses. Of the 200 total samples, about 20 were selected for dating. Here, we present the first 10 results of 14C dating carried out for Hippos. The oldest sample dated thus far gave an age corresponding with the 2nd century BC to 1st century AD—probably indicating an old Roman temple, on the base of which the North-West church (NWC) was later erected. The next dates extend up to the 8th century AD, the age related to the last phase of settlement inhabitation. Research is continuing as new excavations take place.
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