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Absolute dating of mortars is crucial when trying to pin down construction phases of archaeological sites and historic stone buildings to a certain point in time or to confirm, but possibly also challenge, existing chronologies. To evaluate various sample preparation methods for radiocarbon (14C) dating of mortars as well as to compare different dating methods, i.e. 14C and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), a mortar dating intercomparison study (MODIS) was set up, exploring existing limits and needs for further research. Four mortar samples were selected and distributed among the participating laboratories: one of which was expected not to present any problem related to the sample preparation methodologies for anthropogenic lime extraction, whereas all others addressed specific known sample preparation issues. Data obtained from the various mortar dating approaches are evaluated relative to the historical framework of the mortar samples and any deviation observed is contextualized to the composition and specific mineralogy of the sampled material.
Recently a cremation cemetery was excavated at the site of Wijnegem where 29 cremation graves and 9 funerary monuments were uncovered. Thirty radiocarbon (14C) dates were carried out, mostly on cremated bone but also 10 charcoal samples were dated. Twenty-four cremations were studied. Four ring ditches were dated by charcoal samples from the infill of the ditch. The 14C dates showed an interesting long-term occupation of the cemetery. Different phases were ascertained. The history of the cemetery starts in the northern part of the site around a circular funerary monument. Two cremations were dated at the transition of the Early to Middle Bronze Ages. Two other graves represent the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Ages. The main occupation period dates between the end of the Late Bronze Age and the Early Iron Age. Finally, an isolated cremation grave marks the definite abandonment of the site during the Late Iron Age.
Seven radiocarbon laboratories: Åbo/Aarhus, CIRCE, CIRCe, ETHZ, Poznań, RICH, and Milano-Bicocca performed separation of carbonaceous fractions suitable for 14C dating of four mortar samples selected for the MOrtar Dating Inter-comparison Study (MODIS). In addition, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) analyses were completed by Milano-Bicocca and IRAMAT-CRP2A Bordeaux. Each laboratory performed separation according to laboratory protocol. Results of this first intercomparison show that even though consistent 14C ages were obtained by different laboratories, two mortars yielded ages different than expected from the archaeological context.
A special type of coastal settlement, promontory forts defended by inland-facing walls, appeared in the Balearic Islands in an imprecise time during the Bronze Age. A research project was initiated in 2011 to study one of these sites on each of the two major islands of the archipelago. The first one, Es Coll de Cala Morell (north Menorca), is a walled promontory with a relatively large plateau, with 13 horseshoe-shaped houses (navetes). The second, Sa Ferradura (east Mallorca), is a smaller coastal cape, with a different spatial planning, with only two large built-up areas, both attached to the enclosure wall. Two of the navetes have been excavated at Es Coll de Cala Morell, showing a domestic space with a central hearth in both cases. The occupation has been dated to around 1600–1200 cal BC. At Sa Ferradura seven hearths have been recorded in a large, open-air area. Their chronology falls within the interval of approximately 1200/1100–900 cal BC. From a chronological point of view, fortified settlements in coastal promontories are not, as was expected, a unitary phenomenon in Menorca and Mallorca and have to be related to different cultural periods.
Only domestic mammals (sheep, goat, cattle, pig, and dog) and two rodent species constituted the faunal package introduced to the Balearic Islands by the early settlers in the 3rd millennium cal BC. Later animal introductions in the archipelago were thought to occur by the end of the 1st millennium cal BC due to contacts with Punic merchants or, more than likely, to the Roman conquest of the islands. Recently, several faunal remains belonging to different vertebrates (red deer, chicken, and rabbit) were found in the Talayotic site of Cornia Nou (Minorca), in contexts that date to the early 1st millennium cal BC. A series of radiocarbon (14C) dates was made directly on samples of small species to exclude the possibility of infiltration into lower layers. The obtained results show that chicken and rabbit were already present on Minorca in the early 1st millennium cal BC. Chicken is recorded in Phoenician colonies in south Iberia as early as the 8th century cal BC. Rabbit, on the other hand, is indigenous to the Iberian Peninsula. These new faunal introductions recorded in Minorca could be related to the Late Bronze and Phoenician maritime activity.
Cheniers and oyster reefs are two essential components of Holocene strata on the coast of Bohai Bay, China. The existing nonconventional14C dates, often with unsuitable sample positions, less-tested samples, and unreasonable data comparisons, limit the refined analysis of the local chronostratigraphy. On the basis of a number of pretreatment routines, including geological investigations, X-ray diffraction analysis (XRD), δ13C measurement of shells, selection of appropriate shell species (Umboniumsp. and Terebridae) for14C dating, and determination of the local mean δ13C value (−2.68‰ PDB) for the common shells, a set of samples was radiocarbon-dated by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS). These new ages, obtained from the lower part of cheniers, enable us to estimate the initiation of the cheniers, and confirm that the existing nonconventional dates are often questionable due to unsuitable sample positions. Another two AMS ages, dated for two different microgrowth layers, precipitated in a varying water body, of the sameCrassostrea gigasshell are statistically identical within 2σ error. This implies that the different water masses in the coastal environment would be rapidly in balance with the contemporaneous atmospheric CO2. Both MARINE93 and INTERCAL93 were used for calibration of radiocarbon dates. These amended the time frame of the local Holocene history.
In 1981, the first 14C and Archaeology Symposium was organized because it was felt necessary to have a symposium that focused on the specific problems related to the use of 14C dating in archaeology. The dating method has been constantly changing and approving itself technically as well as in the application of the method. The relationship between the archaeologists and the 14C dating laboratories has, however, never been straightforward. For a lot of 14C laboratories, archaeology was not their core business. For archaeologists, the main problem arose from an insufficient knowledge of natural sciences. The last decennia, however, 14C and archaeology are growing towards one another. One of the reasons might be the introduction of small exclusively 14C-dedicated machines and the availability of fully automatic graphitization lines.
Lime burials are a characteristic phenomenon of the protohistoric funerary tradition on the Balearic Islands. At Cova de Na Dent, six samples, representing the entire stratigraphy of the lime burial, were taken for analysis. The radiocarbon dates suggested that the lowest levels of the burial were Late Bronze Age. This is in contradiction with the general belief that the lime burials are a late Iron Age phenomenon. Therefore, a new analysis strategy is put forward, focusing on the so-called 1st fraction, the first CO2 released during the acid lime reaction, which is supposed to be free of fossil carbon. The analysis demonstrates the impossibility to eliminate the fossil carbon fraction completely. This is probably due to the different geological formation of the local limestone deposits (ancient reef barriers) compared to the previous lime burials of Mallorca all coming from mountain areas. 14C analysis from a cremation layer without lime at the onset of the lime burial reveals an Iron Age origin of the Cova de Na Dent lime burial.
The prehistoric site of Cornia Nou (Menorca) features a number of well-preserved architectural structures belonging to the Talayotic culture. Over the last 6 yr, a team linked to the Museum of Menorca has conducted an archaeological excavation project of a large rectangular building attached to the south side of a substantial and massive talayot, which is considered the western talayot. The main objective of this paper is to present the chronological framework of this building, specifying the period of use and the time of abandonment of the building, as well as the dating of the different phases of its construction. A total of 27 14C analyses were obtained from samples of the stratigraphic layers and architectonic structures inside the South Building (SB). This research has provided new insights concerning the early stages of the Talayotic culture. The 14C dates allow us to place the first recorded occupation phase of the SB in an interval dated within 1100–900 BC (phase 4). A second phase in the occupation of the SB dates to ∼900–800 BC (phase 5). A final occupation phase could be situated between 800–600 BC (phase 6). However, this record provides evidence to suggest that the construction of the west talayot may pertain to a time before the beginning of the 1st millennium cal BC.
Radiocarbon dates, obtained from different human bones found in several tombs of the site of Son Peretó, are presented and discussed together with the stratigraphical evidence and the study of the material culture. The calibrated dates show that the tombs were built earlier than the main phase of occupation of the West Sector, therefore belonging to a necropolis linked to the Christian building prior to the transformation of the area into a habitation nucleus. The necropolis is 14C dated mainly to the 6th century AD. This is in good agreement with the chronology provided by ceramic materials.
Excavations in the cathedral of Tournai revealed two sepultures, which were identified by the excavators as those of bishops because of their special location in the cathedral. One burial was assigned to Baldwin I, who died in AD 1068, because (1) a ring with the inscription “BAL” was found and (2) a funeral stone with text was present on top of the grave mentioning the name Baldewinus. The second burial probably belongs to Radbot II, who was the successor of Baldwin I, and died in AD 1098. Both burials contained textiles (silk), the skeleton, a wooden pastoral staff, and human hair was still present on the skull of what was presumed to be Radbot II. All the protein-containing materials were degraded and/or contaminated. Standard sample pretreatment methods were not able to remove all the contaminants. Single and double cross-flow nanofiltration of the hydrolyzed protein-containing materials were performed. The sample quality for radiocarbon dating was improved and 14C data revealed interesting and surprising results. The 14C dates of the wooden pastoral staff and permeate femur confirm that the skeleton and tomb belong to bishop Baldwin I. The 14C dates of hair and permeate skull indicate that the skeleton may indeed belong to bishop Radbot II. The younger 14C dates of the wooden pastoral staff and silk samples indicate a postburial disturbance of the site burial during the 12th–13th century.
Lime burials are a characteristic phenomenon of the protohistoric funerary tradition on the Balearic Islands. At Cova de Na Dent, a lime burial has been sampled for analysis. The lime burial was made up of lime and fragmented bones. Six layers were sampled and described in the laboratory according to their color, the consistency of the deposition, and the aspect and quantity of the bone fragments. Bone samples and lime were dated. The lime was analyzed by using petrographic analysis, X-ray diffraction, FTIR spectroscopy, and simultaneous thermal analysis. The results show that the bones were cremated in the presence of crushed rock carbonate. The 14C dates on the lime suggest an earlier chronology for this ritual, starting in the Bronze Age, as generally is accepted.
The Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the wetland margins of the southern North Sea basin occurred well over a millennium after the transition in neighboring loess regions. This article investigates the possible role of hydrological dynamics in the presence of the last hunter-gatherer-fishermen in these wetland regions. A Bayesian modeling approach is used to integrate stratigraphic information and radiocarbon dates both from accurately datable archaeological remains and key horizons in peat sequences in the Scheldt floodplain of northwestern Belgium. This study tests whether the Swifterbant occupation of the study area was contemporaneous with hiatuses in peat growth caused by organic clastic sedimentation due to increased tidal influences and local groundwater rise. The results suggest that the appearance of this culture followed shortly after the emergence of a brackish tidal mudflat landscape replacing a freshwater marsh.
An overview will be presented of stable isotope data (δ13C and δ15N) available from animal and human bones from Roman to post-Medieval Belgian sites. The data will be used to assess trends in the human diet and evaluate the possible impact of reservoir effects originating from the consumption of fish derived from marine or freshwater environments. Historical and archaeozoological data demonstrate drastic changes in fish consumption throughout the last 2 millennia and thus suggest that fluctuations through time of the impact of the reservoir effects can be expected. However, the present stable isotope data set does not support this suggestion.
The Son Ferrer archaeological site presents a series of successive occupations spanning a long period of time. At the beginning of the Iron Age (∼850 BC), a staggered turriform structure was built for a ritual purpose over an artificial hypogeum that had already been used as a collective necropolis during the Early Bronze Age (∼1800–1500 BC). Later, in the post-Talayotic phase (Second Iron Age, 550–123 BC), the hypogeum was again reused as a collective burial place. The present work is focused on the chronological and functional analysis of this last phase, which began ∼500 BC and ended ∼180 BC with the saturation and sealing of the hypogeum. The excavation process revealed that significant removal of archaeological material has occurred as a result of complex funerary space management practices, which generated a secondary archaeological context. Given this situation, and in order to establish the different use phases of the post-Talayotic necropolis, a dual strategy of excavation and research was implemented. First, an extensive series of radiocarbon dates on human remains (18 dates) was obtained, which were later analyzed following Bayesian strategies. Second, a detailed spatial analysis was carried out, georeferencing the location of all the archaeological finds. This strategy allowed the reconstruction of the space management processes and movement patterns that took place in the burial space. Despite some initial difficulties, the combination of these research strategies embedded in a contextual analysis provided both material and chronological references that have contributed to define the various use phases of the hypogeum.
Archaeologists tend to use typochronological frameworks to date their sites. These are based on the appearance of certain cultural markers such as grave types or houseplans. In the Meuse-Demer-Scheldt region, a chronological framework is used for the cremation cemeteries from the Middle Bronze Age until the Late Iron Age based on the size, number, and presence of different types of cremation graves. Radiocarbon dating of cremated bone from the small cemetery at Lummen-Meldert dates this site to the Late Bronze Age. These results challenge the hypothesis that small cremation cemeteries with mostly “unurned” graves date to the Middle Iron Age. The cremation graves without an urn and grave goods are a specific category that has to be dated by absolute dating methods such as 14C. The results also suggest a connection with the funerary traditions in the Atlantic region.
Dating of Coptic textiles performed in the early days of the radiocarbon dating method was revisited. In 1957–1958, Louvre curator and art historian P du Bourguet had 4 Coptic textiles 14C dated by the Saclay laboratory. The results were rejected, not because of the large standard deviation (>100 yr), but because their ages did not support his chronological framework based on typological comparison. Furthermore, textiles with comparable ages were dated several centuries apart. As a result of this investigation, for many decades art historians rejected 14C as a dating tool for Coptic textiles. Re-examination of the old data and new 14C analyses revealed that mistakes were made, both in the reporting as in the interpretation of the data and that the textiles are much older than presumed.
Sum probability and Bayesian modeling of a substantial series of radiocarbon dates from a former extensive lake area in NW Belgium, known as the Moervaart area, allow important hydrological changes to be synchronized with Greenland Interstadial lb (or Intra-Allerød Cold Period). It is postulated that the disappearance of nearly all open water systems (Moervaart lake, anastomosing gullies, and dune-slacks) in response to this short but abrupt cooling event was responsible for a nearly total retreat of hunter-gatherers already some centuries before the start of Greenland Stadial 1 (Younger Dryas).
A Brandgrubengrab entails a specific way of depositing human remains whereby the cremated remains of the deceased and other remnants of the funeral pyre, such as charcoal and burnt objects, are jointly deposited onto the bottom of a pit. This type of burial became increasingly popular during the Late Iron Age and the Roman period, when it was the main basic funerary structure used in western Flanders. In recent years, more attention has been paid to establishing a more precise chronology for these funerary structures by applying radiocarbon dating. A set of 40 14C dates obtained from samples originating from small cemeteries and isolated cremations now offers new insights in the development of this specific cremation burial ritual.