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The Final Neolithic and the Bronze Age (3000–800 BC) are periods of great transformations in the communities inhabiting the area of modern-day Belgium, as testified by archaeological evidence showing an increasing complexity in social structure, technological transformations, and large-scale contacts. By combining 599 available radiocarbon dates with 88 new 14C dates from 23 from funerary sites, this paper uses kernel density estimates to model the temporality in the use of inhumation vs. cremation burials, cremation deposits in barrows vs. flat graves, and cremation grave types. Additionally, by including 78 dates from settlements, changes in population dynamics were reconstructed. The results suggest a phase of demographic contraction around ca. 2200–1800 BC highlighted by a lack of dates from both settlements and funerary contexts, followed by an increase in the Middle Bronze Age, with the coexistence of cremation deposits in barrows and, in a lower number, in flat graves. At the end of the 14th–13th century BC, an episode of cultural change with the almost generalized use of flat graves over barrows is observed. Regional differentiations in the funerary practices and the simultaneous use of different grave types characterize the Late Bronze Age.
The adoption of a new funerary ritual with all its social and cognitive meanings is of great importance to understanding social transformations of past societies. The first known occurrence of cremation in the territory corresponding to modern Belgium dates back to the Mesolithic period. From the end of the Neolithic onward, the practice of cremation was characterized by periods in which this rite was predominant and periods of contractions, defined by a decrease in the use of this funerary ritual. This paper aims to quantify such phenomenon for the first time by modeling discontinuities in burial practices through kernel density analysis of 1428 radiocarbon (14C) dates from 311 archaeological sites located in Belgium from the Mesolithic to the Middle Ages. Despite possible taphonomic and sampling biases, the results highlight the existence of periods with a large uptake of cremation rite followed by periods of contractions; such discontinuities took place in correlation with changes in the socio-economical structure of local communities, as, for example, during the later Middle Bronze Age and at the end of the Roman Period.
As part of the study of the early medieval cemetery at Broechem (Belgium), human bones from 32 cremation graves have been dated through radiocarbon (14C) analysis. It was noted that many of the dates were not in accordance with the chronological ranges provided by the characteristics of the cultural artifacts deposited in the graves. In fact, the human bones were “older” than the artifacts. Subsequently, a number of animal bones (in all cases from domestic pigs) was radiocarbon dated, yielding dates that were more consistent with the information from the cultural artifacts than the human bones. The dates obtained on human and pig bones from the same grave often differed around 100 radiocarbon years. This paper tries to find an explanation for the pattern observed, concentrating on two hypotheses: aquatic reservoir versus old wood effects. The evaluation takes into account additional radiocarbon dates derived from charcoal fragments of the funeral pyre, from both short-lived and long-lived taxa. A conclusive explanation for the anomalous radiocarbon dates could not be reached but clear suggestions can be put forward for future experimental work that will without doubt shed more light upon the interpretational problems raised.
There is increasing awareness of the need to correct for freshwater as well as marine reservoir effects when undertaking radiocarbon (14C) dating of human remains. Here, we explore the use of stable hydrogen isotopes (δ2H), alongside the more commonly used stable carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen isotopes (δ15N), for correcting 14C freshwater reservoir offsets in 10 paired human-faunal dates from graves at the prehistoric cemetery of Shamanka II, Lake Baikal, southern Siberia. Excluding one individual showing no offset, the average human-faunal offset was 515±175 14C yr. Linear regression models demonstrate a strong positive correlation between δ15N and δ2H ratios, supporting the use of δ2H as a proxy for trophic level. Both isotopes show moderate but significant correlations (r2 ~ 0.45, p < 0.05) with 14C offsets (while δ13C on its own does not), though δ2H performs marginally better. A regression model using all three stable isotopes to predict 14C offsets accounts for approximately 65% of the variation in the latter (r2=0.651, p=0.025), with both δ13C and δ2H, but not δ15N, contributing significantly. The results suggest that δ2H may be a useful proxy for freshwater reservoir corrections, though further work is needed.
This paper focuses on the material study (radiocarbon dating, wood identification and strontium isotope analyses) of four large ‘India occidentali’ clubs, part of the founding collections of the Ashmolean Museum, in Oxford, and originally part of John Tradescant’s ‘Ark’, in Lambeth (1656). During the seventeenth century, the term ‘India occidentali/occidentales’ referred not only to the ‘West Indies’ (its literal translation), but to the Americas as a whole; hence, the Ashmolean clubs and, indeed, the c forty examples of similarly large, decorated clubs known in international museum collections had no firm provenance and lacked even the most basic information. Previous attempts at attribution, based on stylistic comparisons with nineteenth- to twentieth-century Brazilian and Guyanese clubs, have proved inconclusive given the unique features of this club style, raising the intriguing possibility that these may be exceptionally rare examples of ‘Island Carib’ (Kalinago) material culture, particularly as images of such clubs appear in seventeenth-century ethnographic accounts from the Lesser Antilles. This paper provides new data for these poorly known objects from early collections, revealing not only the type of wood from which they were carved (Platymiscium sp. and Brosimum cf guianense) and their probable dates of manufacture (cAD 1300–1640), but also their possible provenance (strontium results are consistent with a possible range from Trinidad south to French Guiana).
To achieve a reliable radiocarbon (14C) date for an object, any contamination that may be of a different age must be removed prior to dating. Samples that have been conserved with treatments such as adhesives, varnishes or consolidants can pose a particular challenge to 14C dating. At the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU), common examples of such substances encountered include shellac, the acrylic polymers Paraloid B-67 and B-72, and vinyl acetate-derived polymers (e.g. PVA). Here, a non-carbon-containing absorbent substrate called Chromosorb® was deliberately contaminated with a range of varieties or brands of these conservation treatments, as well as two cellulose nitrate lacquers. A selection of chemical pretreatments was tested for their efficiency at removing them. While the varieties of shellac and Paraloid tested were completely removed with some treatments (water/methanol and acetone/methanol/chloroform sequential washes, respectively), no method was found that was capable of completely removing any of the vinyl acetate-derived materials or the cellulose nitrate lacquers. While Chromosorb is not an exact analog of archaeological wood or bone, for example, this study suggests that it may be possible to remove aged shellac and Paraloid from archaeological specimens with standard organic solvent-acid-base-acid pretreatments, but it may be significantly more difficult to remove vinyl acetate-derived polymers and cellulose nitrate lacquers sufficiently to provide reliable 14C dates. The four categories of conservation treatment studied demonstrate characteristic FTIR spectra, while highlighting subtle chemical and molecular differences between different varieties of shellac, Paraloid and cellulose nitrate lacquers, and significant differences between the vinyl acetate derivatives.
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.
In the late 1990s, it was demonstrated that reliable radiocarbon dates could be obtained directly from cremated bone. Many 14C laboratories have since used a protocol for pretreating cremated (calcined) bones that consists of consecutive treatments with bleach and acetic acid to remove organic matter and extraneous or diagenetic carbonate, respectively. In most instances, the bleach used is sodium hypochlorite, although in recent years the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU) has used acidified sodium chlorite instead. However, properly calcined (white) bones should not contain any organic material; hence, the bleach treatment is potentially unnecessary. This article describes studies investigating the effectiveness of bleach (and the specific bleach used) during pretreatment of calcined bone, and demonstrates that 14C dates on six cremated bone samples are statistically indistinguishable whether or not the initial bleach step is applied.
We present the quantitative measurement of inelastic intensity distributions in diffraction patterns with the aim of studying magnetic materials. The original idea of using inelastic signal in a transmission electron microscope to measure magnetic information has been proposed recently by Schattschneider et al  and various experimental set-ups can be imagined [2,3]. We focus on a new experimental configuration which we use to acquire and collect a map of the signal with a high signal-to-noise ratio. We will also present the numerical treatments that need to be performed to get spatially accurate information and energy resolution. We will illustrate our method studying iron single crystal and discuss the effects of the drift and non-isochromaticity corrections.
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