Vital evidence: change in the marine ¹⁴C reservoir around New Zealand (Aotearoa) and implications for the timing of Polynesian settlement

Petchey, Fiona, and Schmid, Magdalena M.E. (2020) Vital evidence: change in the marine ¹⁴C reservoir around New Zealand (Aotearoa) and implications for the timing of Polynesian settlement. Scientific Reports, 10. 14266.

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Precise and accurate radiocarbon chronologies are essential to achieve tight chronological control for the ~ 750-years since Polynesian settlement of New Zealand. This goal has, however, been elusive. While radiocarbon datasets in the region are typically dominated by marine and estuarine shell dates, such chronological information has been ignored by those interpreting the timing of key events because a detailed regional calibration methodology for marine shell, comparable to the highly precise Southern Hemisphere calibration curve, is lacking. In this paper, we present the first temporal ¹⁴C marine offset (ΔR) model for New Zealand based on paired estuarine/marine and terrestrial radiocarbon dates from 52 archaeological contexts. Our dataset displays significant offsets between the measured New Zealand data and the modelled global marine radiocarbon curve. These shifts are associated with oceanographic fluctuation at the onset of the Little Ice Age ~ AD 1350–1450 (650–500 BP). The application of a regional and temporal correction to archaeological shell dates provides complimentary information to terrestrial radiocarbon production and has the potential to add structure to the blurred chronology that has plagued archaeological theories about the colonization of New Zealand, and other Pacific islands, for decades.

Item ID: 64270
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2045-2322
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2020.
Funders: University of Waikato
Projects and Grants: Marsden Support Grant
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2020 21:45
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 70%
45 INDIGENOUS STUDIES > 4513 Pacific Peoples culture, language and history > 451301 Archaeology of New Guinea and Pacific Islands (excl. New Zealand) @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950599 Understanding Past Societies not elsewhere classified @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9611 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water > 961104 Physical and Chemical Conditions of Water in Marine Environments @ 50%
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