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The question under discussion is whether the dates of the Late Bronze (LBIIB)-LBIII (Iron IA) transitions in three sites in the southern Levant, namely Megiddo, Tell es-Safi/Gath and Qubur el-Walaydah occur at the same time, as has been proposed by Israel Finkelstein in his article in 2016 in Egypt and Levant. Here we respond to Finkelstein’s comments. We add some new data, clarify the issues that were raised, and conclude that the Late Bronze (LBIIB)-LBIII (Iron IA) transitions occurred at different times in northern and southern Israel.
The Late Bronze Age to Iron Age transition in the Levant includes the appearance of new material culture that is similar in styles to the Aegean world. In the southern Levant, the distribution of early styles of Aegean-like pottery, locally produced, is limited to the coastal areas of Canaan, making synchronization with the rest of the region difficult. Radiocarbon (14C) dating provides a high-resolution absolute chronological framework for synchronizing ceramic phases. Here, absolute 14C chronologies of the Late Bronze to Iron Age transition in the sites Tel Beth Shean, Tel Rehov, Tel Lachish, and Tel Miqne-Ekron are determined. Results show that the ranges of transitions vary in an absolute time frame by 50–100 years between different sites and that the range of the Late Bronze Age to Iron Age transition in Canaan spans the 13th–11th centuries BC plateau. These chronologies, based on a site-by-site approach for dating, show that the change between early types of Aegean-like pottery (Monochrome) to developed types (Bichrome), occurred over 100 years in Canaan and that the transition occurred in southern sites prior to sites in the north. These ranges show that not only is the Late Bronze to Iron Age not contemporaneous, but also synchronization between sites based on their ceramic assemblages is problematic.
Radiocarbon (14C) dating has previously been applied to modern paintings on canvas from the 20th century to identify potential modern forgeries, and dates indicate a time lag of several years between the harvesting of plant fibers for making canvas, and completion of a painting. This study investigated both the length of this time lag and the potential of 14C dating to inform about an individual artist’s mode of working (for example long-term storage or reuse of canvases, or extended reworking on a single canvas) and/or to establish a chronology for a corpus of work. Two pre-bomb and 16 post-bomb artworks by 17 mid-20th-century Scandinavian artists were 14C dated. The majority of post-bomb samples indicated a time lag of 2–5 years between the harvesting of the plants and completion of a painting, but some samples recorded lags of up to 10 years, and others produced much earlier results, potentially indicating the use of much older canvases or challenges removing contamination prior to dating. The importance of thorough pre-screening of canvas samples for both synthetic fibers and contaminants prior to dating, and selection of the most suitable calibration curve, are highlighted.
The Inner Mongolian Plateau lies along the northern limit reached by the East Asian summer monsoon. This geographic setting makes it especially sensitive to environmental change and an excellent site for understanding Quaternary East Asian monsoon variability. In this study we present new results of hydrogen isotopic compositions of fatty acids extracted from sediments, which were used to construct Holocene paleoprecipitation (or moisture) changes in Northern China. The hydrogen isotopic composition (D/H ratio) of n-acids in the sedimentary sequence of the Duoerji peat, Inner Mongolia, was determined with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. Changes in the precipitation from middle Inner Mongolia are recorded by the D/H ratio of n-C20, n-C22, n-C24, n-C26, n-C28 acids (δD). From 10–9 ka, the relatively high δD values indicate reduced precipitation in the Early Holocene. Subsequently, increased precipitation is reflected by reduced δD values from 9–5.5 ka. After 5.5 ka, gradually increasing δD values record an overall decrease in precipitation. The precipitation trends established for the Duoerji sequence are consistent with other major paleoclimate proxies in the East Asian monsoon region, especially with a distinct Holocene optimum of increased monsoonal activity from 9–5.5 ka. The δD resulting paleo-precipitation record clearly shows that the Holocene climate in Northern China is basically controlled by the insolation changes.
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.
We describe two coastal paleosols recovered in sediment cores from the Oujiang Delta, Southeast China. These provide useful benchmarks for past sea level change on the East China Sea coast. Radiocarbon (14C) dates on charcoal and plant matter show that one formed during Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS 3) and was exposed for perhaps 20 ka, during the Last Glacial Maximum. The other formed in the Early Holocene and was briefly exposed, during a period of fluctuating sea level. Similar paleosols have been described from the Changjiang (Yangtze) Delta, and at many other sites from the East China Sea. The MIS 3 paleosol records a regional relative sea level of about –27 m at the end of MIS 3. While this value is consistent with other paleo sea level estimates for the East China Sea region, it is much higher than predicted by eustatic sea level estimates.
This paper evaluates the complexities of radiocarbon (14C) dates from soil organic matter (SOM) in archaeological scenarios. The aqueous NaOH-insoluble residual SOM from Neolithic to medieval sites in NW Spain produced consistently older calibrated 14C ages than NaOH-extractable SOM. Using pyrolysis-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (Py-GC-MS) and thermally assisted hydrolysis and methylation (THM-GC-MS), we analyzed the molecular composition of these SOM fractions, aiming to understand the differences in 14C ages and to gain insight on SOM dynamics in relation to age fractionation. The molecular composition of the NaOH-extractable SOM, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of total SOM, has a larger proportion of microbial detritus than the NaOH-insoluble SOM. This might suggest that the discrepancies between the two fractions is due to microbial rejuvenation in the extractable fraction, leading to 14C results that are younger than the activity that is to be dated. However, archaeological evidence presented here unambiguously shows that the 14C age of the extractable SOM provides the more accurate age for the targeted activity, and that the insoluble fraction contains inherited old carbon. After statistical data evaluation using Partial Least Squares-Regression (PLS-R), it is concluded that this inherited SOM is a mixture of Black Carbon from wild and/or domestic fires and recalcitrant aliphatic SOM.
The radiocarbon (14C) dating of contaminated old wood has been seen as a challenge requiring many lengthy procedures, often using strong alkali extractions and carbon-containing solvents. Introduced here is a novel protocol called 2chlorOx, a twice-repeated sequence of alkaline hypochlorite and acidic chlorite oxidations, which is shown to work well for 14C and 13C measurements on both <5000 BP and >50,000 BP wood samples, producing results superior to those from conventional acidic chlorite or acidic dichromate oxidations. The 2chlorOx method employs only inorganic reagents, many samples can be completed in less than one day under normal laboratory conditions, and cellulose prepared in this way is usually paper-white in color.
Excavations at several locations in Verteba Cave have uncovered a large amount of human skeletal remains in association with faunal bones and Tripolye material culture. We aim to establish radiocarbon (14C) dates for eight sites and to evaluate whether these deposits are singular events, or slow accumulations over time. 14C measurements, along with stable carbon and nitrogen isotope data from human and faunal remains, were collected from 18 specimens. Stable isotope values were used to evaluate human and animal diet, and whether freshwater reservoir effects offset measured dates. We found diets of the sampled species had limited to no influence from freshwater resources. Human diet appears to be dominated by terrestrial plants and herbivores. Four new sites were identified as Eneolithic. Comparisons of dates from top and bottom strata for two sites (7 and 20) reveal coeval dates, and we suggest that these deposits represent discrete events rather than slow continuous use. Lastly, we identified dates from the Mesolithic (8490±45 BP, 8765±30 BP), Iron Age (2505±20 BP), Slavic state era (1315±25 BP), and Medieval Period (585±15 BP), demonstrating periodic use of the cave by humans prior to and after the Eneolithic.
A comparative study was undertaken to adopt and evaluate a radiocarbon (14C) preparation procedure for accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) measurements of cremated bones at our laboratory, including different types of archaeological samples (cremated bone, bone, charcoal, charred grain). All 14C analyses were performed using the EnvironMICADAS AMS instrument at the Hertelendi Laboratory of Environmental Studies (HEKAL) and the ancillary analyses were also performed at the Institute for Nuclear Research (ATOMKI). After the physical and chemical cleaning of cremated bones, CO2 was extracted by acid hydrolysis followed by sealed-tube graphitization and 14C measurement. The supplementary δ13C measurements were also performed on CO2 gas while FTIR was measured on the powder fraction. Based on the FTIR and 14C analyses, our chemical pretreatment protocol was successful in removing contamination from the samples. Good reproducibility was obtained for the 0.2–0.3 mm fraction of blind-tested cremated samples and a maximum age difference of only 150 yr was found for the remaining case studies. This confirms the reliability of our procedure for 14C dating of cremated bones. However, in one case study, the age difference of 300 yr between two cremated fragments originating from the same urn shows that other processes affecting the cremated samples in the post-burial environment can substantially influence the 14C age, so caution must be exercised.
Radiocarbon (14C) dating is widely used to determine the age of organic material in palaeoenvironmental research. Here we compare 14C dates (n=17) resulting from macro-charcoal (>250 μm), short-lived plant macrofossils and pollen-rich residues isolated from two mire environments in eastern Australia. In most samples we found that short-lived plant macrofossils were the youngest organic component, the charcoal samples most often fell into the middle and the pollen-rich residues consistently returned older dates than the other samples. Although pollen-rich residues have been widely used for 14C dating in Australasia we suggest some caution in their use, perhaps because in our fire-prone environments these samples often also contain fine charcoal and other oxidative resistant organic matter that is older than the surrounding sediment matrix. The macro-charcoal samples also often returned older calibrated ages compared to short-lived plant macrofossils from the same depth, although this difference was relatively small (<245 years). Our results demonstrate that 14C dating of short-lived plant macrofossils are likely to yield more accurate chronologies and we advocate their routine use in palaeoenvironmental research when they are available.
To examine the implications of seasonality for the construction of a single-year calibration curve we obtained separate dates on earlywood and latewood fractions of tree rings originating from England and dendrochronologically dated between AD 1352 and AD 1442. These demonstrated that an average difference of 26±15 yr exists between earlywood and latewood and that this difference can be as high as 33±19 yr during periods of high radiocarbon (14C) production. It is argued that this difference is due to both changes in atmospheric 14C and the incorporation of stored carbohydrates into earlywood. Based on this, it was possible to separate an atmospheric and physiological contribution to this difference. Our modeling indicates that storage can produce a difference of up to 10 years between earlywood and latewood. This suggests that full-year tree rings from deciduous trees may be less appropriate for the construction of a single-year calibration curve and that specific atmospheric events can be more easily detected by measuring only latewood.
We present 37 new radiocarbon (14C) measurements from mollusk shells fragments sampled along the Chilean continental margin and stored in museum collections with known calendar age. These measurements were used to estimate the modern pre-bomb regional marine 14C age deviations from the global ocean reservoir (∆R). Together with previously published data, we calculated regional mean ∆R values for five oceanographic macro regions along the coast plus one for a mid-latitude open ocean setting. In general, upwelling regions north of 42ºS show consistent although sometimes highly variable ∆R values with regional averages ranging from 141 to 196 14C yr, whereas the mid-latitude open ocean location of the Juan Fernández archipelago and the southern Patagonian region show minor, ∆R of 40±38 14C yr, and 52±47 14C yr respectively. We attribute the alongshore decreasing pattern toward higher latitudes to the main oceanographic features along the Chilean coast such as perennial coastal upwelling in northern zone, seasonally variable upwelling at the central part and the large freshwater influence upon the southern Patagonian channels.
The absolute chronology of Early Bronze Age in the Levant has been the object of a major revision (Regev et al. 2012a), which implied an increase of at least two centuries in respect of traditional chronology. Such a shift back was based upon two sites (Tel Yarmouth, Megiddo) which were the backbone of the “reform,” but actually do not offer complete sequences for the whole EBA. This was the weakest stone of the revision, together with a partial understanding of stratigraphy/contexts from where samples were taken. Tell es-Sultan/Jericho in Palestine was included in this study, as this prominent archaeological site provided well stratified 14C dates for EBA. Its stratigraphy, established by Kathleen M. Kenyon in the 1950s, was reappraised by the Sapienza University of Rome–Palestinian MOTA-DACH joint Expedition (1997–2018). Published 14C dates were reanalyzed along with new samples from carefully stratified and published archaeological contexts, measured by the CEDAD Laboratory (University of Salento, Lecce, Italy). They provided absolute dates connected with stratigraphy useful to double-check the proposed High Chronology. EBA stratigraphic periodization at Jericho suggests a more cautious approach and keeps a multi-based chronology more consistent with a comprehensive historical reconstruction of the Early Bronze Age in Syria-Palestine and Egypt.
This article provides a summary and in-depth analysis of all existing radiocarbon (14C) dates for the Afanasyevo Culture of the Paleometal period. The previous “long” chronology of the culture was widely criticized and contradicted many archaeological observations. The exceedingly wide ranges of the liquid scintillation counting (LSC) dates from bone samples produced in several laboratories and the systematically older ages for the wood/charcoal samples finally reveal the shortcomings of the conventional “long” chronology. From accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), the Afanasyevo burials of the Altai are dated to the 31st–29th century BC, whereas those of the Middle Yenisei Region to the 29th–25th century BC, which confirms the relatively earlier age of the Altai monuments. The “short” chronology removes the incompatibility of deriving the Afanasyevo Culture from the Yamnaya Culture, which previously appeared “younger” than the Afanasyevo, and also contradictions with the archaeological data. It also explains the small number of sites, the small size of the cemeteries and the lack of the internal periodization. We can now clearly move, from the earlier understanding that the Afanasyevo chronology is too broad, towards a different perception. The new AMS dates only represent a “core” for the Afanasyevo chronology, which cannot be narrowed down, but could be slightly expanded over time.
High-resolution sediment chronologies with the best possible time control are essential for comparing palaeoecological studies with independent high-precision climatic, archaeological or historic data in order to disentangle causes and effects of past environmental, ecological and societal change. We present two varved lake sediment sequences from Moossee and Burgäschisee (Swiss Plateau) that have chronologies developed with Bayesian models and radiocarbon (14C) dating of terrestrial plant macrofossils extracted from sediment samples with constant age ranges. We illustrate the potential of high-resolution 14C dating for the construction of robust, high-precision sediment chronologies. The mean 2σ age uncertainties were reduced to±19 cal yr for Moossee and to±54 cal yr for Burgäschisee over the entire period of 3000 cal yr, while 2σ uncertainties of only±13 cal yr and±18 cal yr respectively, were achieved for shorter time intervals. These precisions are better than or comparable to those of previous varve studies. Our results imply that a sophisticated subsampling strategy and a careful selection of short-lived and well-defined terrestrial plant remains are crucial to avoid outlying 14C ages. A direct linkage between palaeoeological studies with dendrochronologically dated, local archaeological sites as well as a precise comparison with high-resolution climate proxy data have become feasible.
We examined the radiocarbon (14C) reservoir effect in Lake Kutubu using tephrochronology and terrestrial plant material to deliver a precise age-depth profile and sedimentation rates for this lake. Based on the presence of two tephra horizons (Tibito and Olgaboli), we found a reservoir age offset in sediments of between 1490 and 2280 14C yr using the sediment ages derived from the lead-210 (210Pb) dating method. The live submerged biological samples collected exhibited a higher reservoir age offset than the sediment. This is most likely a result of delayed transport of “bomb” 14C from the atmosphere to aquatic and sedimentary system. The 14C reservoir effect increased with distance from the lake inlet and also decreased with depth. Dissolution of 14C-depleted carbon from surrounding limestone and direct in-wash of old soil or vegetation remnants from the catchment are the most likely causes of the 14C reservoir effect. Based on limestone areas mapped in Papua New Guinea, we indicate lakes which may be subject to a significant 14C reservoir effect. The results of this study demonstrate the magnitude of the 14C reservoir effect in lakes and provide insights to the correct interpretation of past environmental and archaeological events in PNG.
Constraining radiocarbon (14C) reservoir age offsets is critical to deriving accurate calendar-age chronologies from 14C dating of materials which did not draw carbon directly from the atmosphere. The application of 14C dating to such materials is severely limited in hydrologically sensitive environments like the Black Sea because of the difficulty to quantify reservoir age offsets, which can vary quickly and significantly through time, due to the dynamics of the biogeochemical cycling of carbon. Here we reconstruct 14C reservoir age offsets (Rshell-atm) of Holocene bivalve shells from the coastal Black Sea relatively to their contemporaneous atmosphere. We show that the 14C reservoir age offset and the stable carbon isotope composition of bivalve shells are linearly correlated in this region. From a biogeochemical standpoint, this suggests that inorganic stable carbon isotope and 14C compositions of Black Sea coastal waters are controlled by the balance between autochthonous primary productivity and heterotrophic respiration of allochthonous pre-aged terrestrial organic matter supplied by rivers. This provided an important implication for Black Sea geochronology as the reservoir age offset of 14C-dated bivalve shell can be inferred from its stable carbon isotope composition. Our results provide a fundamental and inexpensive geochemical tool which will considerably improve the accuracy of Holocene calendar age chronologies in the Black Sea.
The emergence of separate cemeteries for disposal of the dead represents a profound shift in mortuary practice in the Late Neolithic of southeast Europe, with a new emphasis on the repeated use of a specific space distinct from, though still often close to, settlements. To help to time this shift more precisely, this paper presents 25 dates from 21 burials in the large cemetery at Cernica, in the Lower Danube valley in southern Romania, which are used to formally model the start, duration of use and end of the cemetery. A further six dates were obtained from four contexts for the nearby settlement. Careful consideration is given to the possibility of environmental and dietary offsets. The preferred model, without freshwater reservoir offsets, suggests that use of the Cernica cemetery probably began in 5355–5220 cal BC (95% probability) and ended in 5190–5080 cal BC (28% probability) or 5070–4940 (67% probability). The implications of this result are discussed, including with reference to other cemeteries of similar age in the region, the nature of social relations being projected through mortuary ritual, and the incorporation of older, Mesolithic, ways of doing things into Late Neolithic mortuary practice.
Applying radiocarbon (14C) dating using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) to the skeleton of a mammoth and the associated plant remains have been dated. The fossil of Zhalai Nur mammoth was dated to 43,500 +1000/–900 14C yr BP. The results of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, which show that a fluvially deposited gravel layer, from that the mammoth fossils were excavated, formed between 51,300±2100 and 26,600±1200 yr BP, place the new AMS 14C dates in a well-developed chronological framework. Through this study, it can be summarized that, firstly, using suitable sample material, it is possible to obtain reliable AMS 14C results, even when the ages of the target materials approach the upper limits of the method. Second, it reveals that a depositional hiatus exists during the Late Pleistocene, between ca. 26,000 yr BP and ca. 13,000 yr BP. Finally, large rivers and widely distributed areas of alluvial-fluvial deposits existed in this present-day desert area between ca. 51,000 and 26,000 yr BP. These results may shed new light on the study of the Mammuthus-Colelodonta-Bubalus fauna, the most important and fully developed fauna during the Late Pleistocene in northeastern China. They also deepen our understanding about the eco-environments of the region.