Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 June 2018
Archaeological sites in the Canadian Arctic often contain substantial quantities of marine mammal bones and in some cases completely lack terrestrial mammal bones. A distrust of radiocarbon (14C) dates on marine mammal bones among Arctic archaeologists has caused many sites to be insufficiently dated. The goal of this study was to investigate the marine reservoir effect on Atlantic walrus in the Foxe Basin region of the Canadian Arctic through a two-pronged approach: dating of live-harvested specimens of known age collected prior to AD 1955 and dating of pairs of animal remains (walrus and caribou) from stratigraphically contemporaneous levels within archaeological features. 14C dates on pre-bomb, live-harvested walrus indicate that a ΔR value of 160±50 yr be used in calibrating dates on walrus from this region. These results differed significantly from a similar set of pre-bomb mollusks, which argues against applying mollusk-based corrections to marine mammals. The results of comparative dating of caribou and walrus from archaeological features provided maximum estimates of reservoir ages that were more varied than the directly measured ages. Although about half of inferred ΔR values overlap the museum specimen results, the others indicate that the assumption of contemporaneity does not hold true.