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The Last Glacial–Interglacial Transition (LGIT; 15,000–11,000 cal BP) was characterized by complex spatiotemporal patterns of climate change, with numerous studies requiring accurate chronological control to decipher leads from lags in global paleoclimatic, paleoenvironmental, and archaeological records. However, close scrutiny of the few available tree-ring chronologies and radiocarbon-dated sequences composing the IntCal13 14C calibration curve indicates significant weakness in 14C calibration across key periods of the LGIT. Here, we present a decadally resolved atmospheric 14C record derived from New Zealand kauri spanning the Lateglacial from ~13,100–11,365 cal BP. Two floating kauri 14C time series, curve-matched to IntCal13, serve as a 14C backbone through the Younger Dryas. The floating Northern Hemisphere (NH) 14C data sets derived from the YD-B and Central European Lateglacial Master tree-ring series are matched against the new kauri data, forming a robust NH 14C time series to ~14,200 cal BP. Our results show that IntCal13 is questionable from ~12,200–11,900 cal BP and the ~10,400 BP 14C plateau is approximately 5 decades too short. The new kauri record and repositioned NH pine 14C series offer a refinement of the international 14C calibration curves IntCal13 and SHCal13, providing increased confidence in the correlation of global paleorecords.
Papyri 10012A and 10012B from Illahun, Egypt, provide the earliest astro-chronological datum in history and, while calculated to various years in the 19th century BCE, have never been independently verified. As this datum enables the Middle Kingdom (MK) section of Egyptian historical chronology to be anchored in absolute time, it establishes the principal calendrical timeline for the eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age in the first half of the 2nd millennium BCE. AMS radiocarbon measurements of Papyrus 10012B establish its date range to 1886–1750 BCE, confirming the astronomical calculations and the essential reliability of Egyptian historical chronology for this period. Furthermore, all three leading estimates for the calendar year attribution of the document are supported by this analysis, with the role of a possible growing season effect determining which is most favored.
Recent research has identified the existence of a freshwater reservoir effect influencing the radiocarbon dating of human skeletal remains from the Dnieper region of Ukraine (Lillie et al. 2009). The current study outlines the evidence for freshwater resource exploitation throughout the period ~10,200–3700 cal BC, and presents the available evidence for the existence of dietary offsets in the 14C dates obtained. We have obtained human skeletal material from 54 Epipaleolithic to Mesolithic period individuals and 267 Neolithic to Eneolithic individuals, from 13 cemeteries, since our research in Ukraine began in 1992. Here, we present the initial results of stable isotope analysis of Eneolithic individuals from the Igren VIII cemetery alongside the Epipaleolithic to Eneolithic samples that have previously been analyzed. When contrasted against the evidence from the prehistoric fauna and fish remains studied, and modern fish species from the Dnieper region, we continue to see variability in diets at the population level, both internally and across cemeteries. We also observed temporal variability in human diets across these chronological periods. The fish samples (both archaeological and modern) show a wide range of isotope ratios for both δ13C and δ15N, which could prove significant when interpreting the dietary sources being exploited. This information directly informs the 14C dating program as an inherent degree of complexity is introduced into the dating of individuals whose diets combine freshwater and terrestrial sources in differing quantities and at differing temporal and/or spatial scales (e.g. Bronk Ramsey et al. 2014).
This article investigates the marine reservoir effects from apparent age differences among molluskan shells, birds, and sea mammals from the Hamanaka 2 archaeological site, Rebun Island, Japan, which was occupied during the latter half of the Late Jomon period (1300−1200 cal BC). The radiocarbon ages were younger in the order of charred wood<marine molluskan shells<Alcidae<Japanese sea lion≤charred materials on potsherds. According to data from molluskan shells from the site, the local marine reservoir correction (ΔR) for the Soya Warm Current, which flows near Rebun Island, was 172±39 14C yr. ΔR values of bone collagen for Alcidae (a family of seabirds) and Japanese sea lion were 289 and 389 14C yr, respectively. A ΔR value of 447±55 14C yr was obtained on charred material from the inner surfaces of potsherds at Hamanaka 2. The different reservoir effects relate to the differences in the diets or habitats of the shellfish, sea lion, and seabird remains at the site.
The ancient Maya community of Lamanai, Belize, is well known for its span of occupation from the Early Preclassic (before 1630 BC) to the present. Although most centers in the central and southern Maya Lowlands were abandoned during the Terminal Classic period (AD 750–1000), ceramic and stratigraphic evidence at Lamanai has shown continuous occupation from the start of the Early Preclassic to the Spanish Conquest. In this paper, we present the first complete set of radiocarbon dates from this important site, including 19 new accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C dates. We use these dates to build Bayesian models for a Terminal Classic structure and an Early Postclassic structure in the site center. This method assists in the refinement of older, conventional dates and provides key chronological information about the site during this volatile time. Adjustments to the standard, uniform distribution model are made using exponential, long-tail, and trapezoidal distributions to incorporate outlier samples and more accurately portray ceramic phases. Because of changes in construction behavior in the Terminal Classic, it is difficult to acquire primary samples from this period, but there remains enough overlap between dates and ceramic phases to deduce persistent occupation at Lamanai during the transition from Late Classic to Postclassic times.
A formally modeled radiocarbon chronology for a new profile through the great Neolithic tell of Vinča-Belo Brdo, Serbia, is the third interwoven strand in refining the chronology of the tell. This now joins models for the whole sequence based on the archive of early excavations, and for the last two known horizons at the top of the settlement mound, investigated in recent decades. In the new deep sounding, Vinča culture occupation from the 52nd century cal BC is slightly later than in the main sequence, probably reflecting the horizontal extension of the tell as it began to grow. The last dated occupation falls in the late 47th–early 46th century cal BC, slightly earlier than in the main sequence, but the top of the profile is affected by the slippage that caused the new excavations. Formal estimates are given for the succession and varying durations of burnt and unburnt houses, and indicate a period in the first part of the 5th millennium without house burning. Overall, the combined results from the three interwoven strands serve to produce a radically enhanced understanding of the temporality of the tell, which builds on, rather than supplants, previous research. We knew previously that Vinča-Belo Brdo was very long-lived, but now we can time that history with much greater precision. We can assert with much greater confidence that its vertical buildup was steady and largely uninterrupted. We have begun, from the work on the top of the tell and in the new deep sounding, to grasp better the fluctuations in house durations from generation to generation, and can now contrast the relative fortunes of unburnt and burnt houses. We can say much more about the timing and tempo of the ending of the tell, and about the possible circumstances in which that took place.
In Córdoba Province, Argentina, the population uses groundwater from confined aquifer systems (CASs) for different activities. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out comprehensive studies in order to plan more sustainable use considering that groundwater renewal times can be of several thousands of years. The objective of this research is to evaluate groundwater age in confined aquifers based on hydraulic and isotopic methods. The CASs present variable extension, are multilayered and formed by thin (4–6 m) sand-pebble lenses, and are linked to Neogene fluvial paleosystems. These layers are situated at different depths (120–400 m) and interbedded with thick clay strata. The interpretations made from 2H, 18O, and 3H results and hydraulic calculations suggest that the groundwater is old. Furthermore, an age gradient was observed that increases with depth and flow direction. The 14C ages obtained for the CASs labeled A2, C, and D were 3.6–1.1 ka BP, 10.8 ka BP, and 46.0–40.5 ka BP, respectively. These results indicate that A2 and C contain groundwater recharged during Holocene cold periods, between the Little Ice Age and the ending of the Holocene Climatic Optimum and during the last glaciation. The D CAS contains paleowater that was recharged during the Pleistocene.
Radiocarbon dating of marine samples requires a local marine reservoir correction, or ΔR value, for accurate age calibrations. For the Samoan Archipelago in the central Pacific, ΔR values have been proposed previously, but, unlike some Polynesian archipelagoes, ΔR values seem not to vary spatially and temporally. Here, we demonstrate such variability by reporting a ΔR of –101±72 ΔR for the Manu‘a Group—the eastern-most islands in the archipelago—for the colonization period. This value is based on accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C and uranium-thorium (U-Th) series dating of individual coral branches from pre-2300 cal BP archaeological contexts. This figure differs from the previously proposed modern ΔR of 28±26 yr derived from dated historic, pre-1950, shell samples from the western islands of Samoa. Consequently, we recommend using the ΔR of –101±72 yr for the 1st millennium BC in Manu‘a, and 28±26 yr for calibrating dates within the 2nd millennium AD in the western islands (Savai‘i to Tutuila). Until more data from across the archipelago and from throughout the entire culture-historical sequence document ΔR variability, we recommend that researchers use both of these ΔR values to evaluate how the dates of marine-derived samples compare with AMS dates on identified, short-lived wood charcoal.
Radiocarbon dating of closely associated marine mollusk shells and terrestrial material (mammal bones or charred wood) collected from archaeological contexts in northern Atlantic Iberian coastal areas is used to quantify the marine 14C reservoir effect (ΔR) for the coastal waters off the Cantabrian coast of northern Iberia. For the first time, ΔR values were reliably determined for these coastal waters and, also for the first time, a ΔR was calculated for the Late Pleistocene in Atlantic Iberia. Pairs of coeval samples of different carbon reservoirs selected from Upper Paleolithic (Late Pleistocene) and Mesolithic (Early Holocene) contexts yielded ΔR weighted mean values of –117±70 14C yr and –105±21 14C yr, respectively. These values show oceanographic conditions characterized by a reduced offset between atmospheric and surface water 14C contents, suggesting a nonexistent or very weak upwelling and some stratification of the water column. Similar oceanographic conditions have been recorded in other areas of Atlantic Iberia during the Holocene, such as off Andalusian and northwestern Galician coasts. Results not only provide useful information on environmental conditions but also a framework to obtain more precise and reliable absolute chronologies for the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene in northern Iberia.
Prince Rupert Harbour (PRH), on the north Pacific Coast of British Columbia, contains at least 157 shell middens, of which 66 are known villages, in an area of approximately 180 km2. These sites span the last 9500 yr and in some cases are immense, exceeding 20,000 m2 surface area and several meters in depth. Recent archaeological research in PRH has become increasingly reliant on radiocarbon dates from marine shell for developing chronologies. However, this is problematic as the local marine reservoir effect (MRE) remains poorly understood in the region. To account for the MRE and to better date the Harbour’s sites, we propose a ΔR of 273±38 for the PRH area, based on our work at the site of Kitandach (GbTo-34), a massive shell midden-village centrally located within the Harbour. We followed the multiple paired sample approach for samples from specific contexts and ensured contemporaneity within the groups of marine and terrestrial materials by statistically assessing for outliers using the χ2 test. Taking together, the results for this and previous studies, it appears the MRE was fairly constant over the past 5000 yr.
The influence of hydrochloric acid pretreatment on F14C and radiocarbon dates from dental enamel was investigated. Samples from modern equine incisors, a Roman cattle molar, and a Paleolithic woolly rhino molar were sampled and subsequently divided into five fractions. Each fraction was pretreated with a different acid solution, analyzed with Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) 14C dated at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). When compared to a control date (e.g. dentine collagen), better results were observed when increased concentrations of hydrochloric acid solution were used in the chemical pretreatment. This pilot study suggests that decontamination of younger samples may be possible. However, for more fossilized samples with a high level of contamination (e.g. from the European Paleolithic), acid pretreatment under the conditions used in this study does not remove all contamination.
Converting biomass to charcoal produces physical and chemical changes greatly increasing environmental recalcitrance, leading to great interest in the potential of this carbon form as a long-term sequestration strategy for climate change mitigation. Uncertainty remains, however, over the timescale of charcoal’s environmental stability, with estimates varying from decadal to millennial scales. Uncertainty also remains over charcoal’s effect on other aspects of carbon biogeochemical cycling and allied nutrient cycles such as nitrogen. Radiocarbon is a powerful tool to investigate charcoal mineralization due to its sensitivity; here we report the results of a study using 14C-dead charcoal (pMC=0.137±0.002) in organic-rich soil (pMC=99.76±0.46), assessing charcoal degradation over 55 days of incubation. Using this method, we discriminated between decomposition of indigenous soil organic matter (SOM) and charcoal by microorganisms. SOM was the major source of carbon respired from the soil, but there was also a contribution from charcoal carbon mineralization. This contribution was 2.1 and 1.1% on days 27 and 55, respectively. We also observed a negative priming effect due to charcoal additions to soil, where SOM mineralization was repressed by up to 14.1%, presumably arising from physico-chemical interactions between soil and charcoal.
This article presents 24 radiocarbon dates of different materials (animal and human bones, charcoal, and pottery) recovered from hunter-gatherer-fisher archaeological sites from the Salado River microregion, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. We used a microregional design strategy, and considered the 14C dates as a group to analyze them with Bayesian statistics. This was essential to the analysis of the chronology of these shallow sites, in which the soil dynamics add the archaeological materials into the A horizon sedimentary matrix. In these types of sites, the occupational events are difficult to identify, so archaeological indicators are needed to assess the temporal contexts.
Substances enriched with radiocarbon can easily contaminate samples and laboratories used for natural abundance measurements. We have developed a new method using wet chemical oxidation for swabbing laboratories and equipment to test for 14C contamination. Here, we report the findings of 18 months’ work and more than 800 tests covering studies at multiple locations. Evidence of past and current use of enriched 14C was found at all but one location and a program of testing and communication was used to mitigate its effects. Remediation was attempted with mixed success and depended on the complexity and level of the contamination. We describe four cases from different situations.
This fifth date list for the long cultural sequence in El Mirón Cave (Cantabria, Spain) reports on new radiocarbon assays for the Middle Paleolithic and Lower Magdalenian levels, ranging from about >45 to 15 uncalibrated kyr.