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Radiocarbon (14C) data for 2nd millennium BC urban sites in northern Mesopotamia have been lacking until recently. This article presents a preliminary dataset and Bayesian model addressing the Middle and early Late Bronze Age (Old Babylonian and pre/early Mittani) strata of Kurd Qaburstan—one of the largest archaeological sites on the Erbil plain of Iraqi Kurdistan. The results place the large, densely occupied and fortified Middle Bronze Age city in the first part of the 18th century BC, an outcome consistent with the site’s tentative identification as ancient Qabra. A long occupation gap (up to two centuries) probably ensued, before a smaller town confined to the high mound and part of the northeastern lower town resumed in the late 16th and early 15th centuries BC, possibly before this region became part of the Late Bronze Age kingdom of Mittani.
The method of determining the biobased carbon content in liquid fuel samples is standardized, but different laboratories use different protocols during sample preparation and perform the measurements using different machines. The accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) laboratories use different combustion, preparation, and graphitization methods for the graphite production for the spectrometric measurements. As a result, the intercomparison between the laboratories is inevitable to prove precision and accuracy and to demonstrate that the results are comparable. In this study, we present the results of an intercomparison campaign involving three 14C accelerator mass spectrometry laboratories. Five samples were used in the measurement campaign, including two biocomponents (fatty acid methyl ester, hydrotreated vegetable oil), one fossil component (fossil diesel), and two blends (mixtures of fossil and biocomponent with 90–10% mixing ratio) in the laboratories of CEDAD (Italy), ETH (Switzerland), and INTERACT (Hungary). The results presented by the laboratories are comparable, and all three laboratories could determine the biobased carbon content of the samples within 1% relative uncertainty, which is acceptable in the scientific, economic, and industrial fields for biocomponent determination.
This article discusses radiocarbon dating results of documents preserved at the Central Library of the University of Tehran (hereafter, CLUT) as part of the project “Irankoran.” The paper adds new evidence to an ongoing campaign of dating Qurʾāns and Oriental manuscripts by the Corpus Coranicum Project. The dated manuscripts include one kūfī fragment of the Qurʾān on parchment (no. 10950) and a selection of Islamic and Persian manuscripts, all from the second millennium: the Arabic dictionary Muǧmal al-Luġah (Meškāt no. 203), the medical encyclopedia Ḏaḫīrah-ye Khwārazmšāhī (no. 5156), the epic Panǧ Ganǧ of Neẓāmī (no. 5179), the book of wisdom Ādāb al-Falāsifah (no. 2165) attributed to Ḥunayn b. Isḥāq (d. 873 CE), and one of the oldest extant manuscripts of the Avesta Wīdēwdād (no. 11263). Although the authenticity of their colophons is disputed, radiocarbon dating supports the dates of the colophons; even in cases where they were suspected of being tampered with, they most likely present the accurate original dates of the corresponding manuscripts. Only in the case of Ādāb al-Falāsifah (no. 2165), radiocarbon dating of the parchment has identified the manuscript as non-authentic. Inconsistent carbon dating results of two samples taken from Ḏaḫīrah-ye Khwārazmšāhī (no. 5156) and Panǧ Ganǧ (no. 5179) provide evidence of later replaced/added leaves.
The dating of pollen grains is emerging as the method of choice for lacustrine climate archives that contain few datable macrofossils. Due to the need for high-purity pollen concentrates, new methods are constantly being developed to precisely separate pollen grains. Flow cytometry represents a promising alternative to conventional approaches, enabling the identification of pollen grains through fluorescence and rapid separation for radiocarbon analysis using accelerator mass spectrometry, which has so far been limited to sediments with a high proportion of conifer pollen. We present a revised method for processing large sediment samples, resulting in high-purity pollen and spore concentrates. Using this approach small- to medium-sized pollen and bryophyte spores were isolated from Lake Van sediment samples (Eastern Anatolia, Turkey) in sufficient purity for radiocarbon dating. However, a systematic age discrepancy between pollen and bryophyte spore concentrates was noted. By adapting the chemical and cytometric methods, pure pollen concentrates can be created for sediments with low organic content enabling age determination of climate archives with a low proportion of large pollen or low pollen concentration.
Nine burials from Tunnug 1 site in Tuva Republic, which contained human and animal bones as well as remains of wood, were chosen for intercomparison study of preparation methods. Nine human bones, nine animal bones and 11 pieces of wood were prepared. Gelatin extracted from bones was purified using the UF method but the extraction from bones was modified with respect to acid and base treatment. Wood samples were treated as whole using acid-base-acid and cellulose was extracted for comparison. The results confirmed a highly consistent chronology of the sites centered at 200–400 CE, however, a few bones resulted in an offset between ages obtained by different methods. The extraction of cellulose was limited due to the poor preservation of wood. Our results highlight problems of dating poorly preserved bones and wood.
An international consortium of radiocarbon (14C) laboratories was established to date the origin of the St. George’s Rotunda in Nitrianska Blatnica (Slovakia), because its age was not well established in previous investigations. Altogether, 20 samples of wood, charcoal, mortar and plaster were analyzed. The 14C results obtained from the different laboratories as well as between the different sample types were in good agreement, resulting in a 14C calibrated age of 783–880 AD (94.2% probability) for the Rotunda. Although the 14C results have very good precision, the specific plateau-shape of the calibration curve in this period caused the wide range of the calibrated age. The probability distribution from OxCal calibration shows, however, that about 86% of the probability distribution lies in the period before 863 AD, implying that the Rotunda could have been constructed before the arrival of Constantine (St. Cyril) and St. Methodius to Great Moravia. The Rotunda thus probably represents the oldest standing purpose-built Christian church in the eastern part of Central Europe.
Dating lime mortar samples using the radiocarbon (14C) method can be difficult. This is because the contamination is similar to the primary dating material (CaCO3) and consequently difficult to remove. Mortar can also have late-in-formation pyrogenic carbonate from interactions with the environment after the initial hardening phase, such as recrystallization, fire damage or delayed hardening. When 14C dating a system of primary dating material, contamination and late-in-formation pyrogenic carbonate, one approach is multi-fraction dating with conclusiveness criteria. If a sample has sufficient contamination or late-in-formation pyrogenic carbonate, the criteria evaluate the result inconclusive. To improve inconclusive results from such samples, this study investigates sample preparation by thermal decomposition. Here samples that were inconclusively dated by the authors’ traditional method, sequential dissolution with 85% phosphoric acid, are investigated further. This study finds that CO2 thermally decomposed at low temperatures contains some late-in-formation pyrogenic carbonate. By rejecting CO2 decomposed at low temperatures, Kastelholm castle and Kimito church in Finland are conclusively and accurately dated. Furthermore, a preheating method removes some late-in-formation carbonate, but not enough for a conclusive result. Finally, thermal decomposition finds difficulty in discerning binder carbonate from limestone and marble contamination.
Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian chronological modelling have provided precise new dating for the henge monument of Mount Pleasant in Dorset, excavated in 1970–1. A total of 59 radiocarbon dates are now available for the site and modelling of these has provided a revised sequence for the henge enclosure and its various constituent parts: the timber palisaded enclosure, the Conquer Barrow, and the ditch surrounding Site IV, a concentric timber and stone monument. This suggests that the henge was probably built in the 26th century cal bc, shortly followed by the timber palisade and Site IV ditch. These major construction events took place in the late Neolithic over a relatively short timespan, probably lasting 35–125 years. The principal results are discussed for each element of the site, including comparison with similar monument types elsewhere in Britain and Ireland, and wider implications for late Neolithic connections and later activity at the site associated with Beaker pottery are explored.
Radiocarbon (14C) ages cannot provide absolutely dated chronologies for archaeological or paleoenvironmental studies directly but must be converted to calendar age equivalents using a calibration curve compensating for fluctuations in atmospheric 14C concentration. Although calibration curves are constructed from independently dated archives, they invariably require revision as new data become available and our understanding of the Earth system improves. In this volume the international 14C calibration curves for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as for the ocean surface layer, have been updated to include a wealth of new data and extended to 55,000 cal BP. Based on tree rings, IntCal20 now extends as a fully atmospheric record to ca. 13,900 cal BP. For the older part of the timescale, IntCal20 comprises statistically integrated evidence from floating tree-ring chronologies, lacustrine and marine sediments, speleothems, and corals. We utilized improved evaluation of the timescales and location variable 14C offsets from the atmosphere (reservoir age, dead carbon fraction) for each dataset. New statistical methods have refined the structure of the calibration curves while maintaining a robust treatment of uncertainties in the 14C ages, the calendar ages and other corrections. The inclusion of modeled marine reservoir ages derived from a three-dimensional ocean circulation model has allowed us to apply more appropriate reservoir corrections to the marine 14C data rather than the previous use of constant regional offsets from the atmosphere. Here we provide an overview of the new and revised datasets and the associated methods used for the construction of the IntCal20 curve and explore potential regional offsets for tree-ring data. We discuss the main differences with respect to the previous calibration curve, IntCal13, and some of the implications for archaeology and geosciences ranging from the recent past to the time of the extinction of the Neanderthals.
The ages of mortars and plaster can help reveal the history of monuments, their construction, or restoration times. However, these anthropogenic carbonates pose a challenge when it comes to separation of the atmospheric radiocarbon (14C) signal of the CO2 fixed in the mortar at the time of consolidation, i.e., the time of binder formation. The variety and heterogeneity of mortars require individual assessments of each sample and 14C results. Here we present our current preparation method and summarize experience based on results collected during the last 20 years of mortar dating at the ETH laboratory.
The monastery of St. John in Müstair, a UNESCO world heritage site, preserves archaeological remains and stone structures dated from the 8th century to the present. It has been extensively studied archaeologically so that numerous samples of historical materials, including mortar, are available for study. In addition to that, some of the structures have been precisely dated with dendrochronology. The monastery is located in a region characterized by dolomite rocks and the mortars are therefore of dolomitic nature, being perfectly suited to test the possibility of being dated with 14C. Furthermore, the presence of embedded carbon fragments has provided additional independent data to support or deny the results of mortar dating. A comparison of the results obtained from radiocarbon (14C) dating of bulk mortars, sieved fractions enriched in binder, lime lumps and carbon fragments, for two samples is presented, in relation to the petrographic characterization and the mineralogical phase content. This preliminary study shows that the dating of 14C can potentially be applied to the mortar of Müstair, as results in accordance with the established chronologies have been obtained for one sample. However, if the dolomitic sand contamination is very high, further studies are needed to develop a specific sample preparation technique.
When sampling mortars for radiocarbon (14C) dating it is crucial to ensure that the sample has hardened rapidly relative the resolution of the dating method. Soft and porous lime mortars usually fulfill this criterion if the samples are taken from an uncovered surface from less than a few centimeters deep. However, hard, concrete-like mortars may be impermeable for carbon dioxide and even the outermost centimeters may still contain uncarbonated calcium hydroxide. These mortars may harden very slowly and contain carbonate that formed centuries or even millennia after the original building phase, and they can still be alkaline and capture modern 14C, causing younger 14C ages than the actual construction age. Another problem is reactivation of the binder carbonate if it has been partly decarbonated during a fire later on in its history. It will be shown that these young carbonates dissolve rapidly in phosphoric acid and in many cases a reasonable 14C age can be read from 14C profiles in sequential dissolution if the measurements from initially formed carbon dioxide are disregarded. However, if a mortar was made waterproof deliberately by adding crushed or ground tile, as in Roman cocciopesto mortars, it may be very difficult to get a conclusive dating.
In 1989 an ancient burial consisting of a skeleton and a few objects was discovered at the Monte dei Cappuccini Monastery, in Torino (Italy). Anthropological analysis of the skeleton revealed that it belonged to a young man, and the archaeometric characterization of the objects suggested that most of them are compatible with the Medieval period. As a proper archeological survey was not conducted at the time of the finding, due to the religious nature of the site, a high-precision radiocarbon (14C) dating has been performed. The samples were processed with three different methods: besides the ultrafiltration (UF) treatment, we applied the “collagen” (COL) and the Longin-base (LB) methods. While UF and COL treatments provided compatible results, LB method returned ages older with respect the UF one, with significant disagreements in some cases and this evidence is supported by several measurements on the same individual. Thanks to the reduction of the uncertainty with the high number of measured samples and the availability of historical evidence, the possible age of the burial has been limited to the time interval 1464–1515 cal AD.
This article presents a new suite of radiocarbon (14C) dates for the lower portion of the Late Bronze Age (LBA) sequence of Area S, Tel Lachish. The results show that the lowest levels reached by Ussishkin in the 1980s (S-2 and S-3) date significantly earlier than was previously thought. Level S-3, with its monumental architecture, belongs in the 2nd half of the 15th century BCE, as does the commencement of Level S-2. The laminated deposit of S-2 continues through the first half of the 14th century BCE, coinciding at least in part with the Amarna period. This redating leads to improved agreement between archaeological and textual evidence regarding the presence of a substantial, prominent settlement at Lachish during LB IB-IIA, from the reign of Thutmoses III through the Amarna period.
The bomb-peak signal preserved in the Arches® cotton paper was used to detect art forgeries imitating the work of Chinese artist T’ang Haywen (1927–1991). The dating of seven legitimate T’ang Haywen art pieces showed that the timing of the paper production was consistent with the artist’s use of Arches® paper starting in the early 1980s. The measured F14C of the paper from the 14 suspected forged paintings shows that the support material was produced in the last decade (2008–2011), therefore the art pieces could not be genuine T’ang Haywen works.
The modern antiquities market uses radiocarbon (14C) dating to screen for forged objects. Although this fact shows the potential and power of the method, the circumstances where it is applied can be questionable and call for our attention. Here we present an outline of a call to radiocarbon laboratories for due diligence and best practice approaches to the analysis of antique objects requested by non-research clients.
Lead white is a man-made white pigment commonly used in works of art. In this study, the possibility of radiocarbon dating lead white pigments alone and in oil paints was explored using well-dated lead white pigments and paints. Resulting 14C ages on lead white pigments produced following the traditional stack process, where carbonate groups results from the incorporation of CO2 originating from fermentation, matched the production years, while radiocarbon dating of lead white made using other industrial processes indicate that 14C depleted CO2 was used in their production. The method was applied to two case studies, where lead carbonate samples were dated in two oil paintings, one Baroque and one from the 20th century. We hereby show that the lead white pigment can be dated by 14C and used as proxy for the time of creation of an artwork. Additionally, a two-step method was developed to allow 14C analysis of both the lead white pigment and oil binder from the same sample. A single lead white paint sample can yield two distinct radiocarbon ages, one from the carbonate and one from the natural organic binder. This study thus proposes new strategies for 14C dating of artworks.