How 14C dates on charcoal increase precision when dating colonization: the examples of Iceland and Polynesia

Schmid, Magdalena M.E., Dugmore, Andy, Foresta, Luca, Newton, Anthony J., and Vésteinsson, Orri (2018) How 14C dates on charcoal increase precision when dating colonization: the examples of Iceland and Polynesia. Quaternary Geochronology, 48. pp. 64-71.

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Archaeological chronologies use many radiocarbon (14C) dates, some of which may be misleading. Strict ‘chronometric hygiene' protocols, which aim to enhance the overall accuracy and precision of 14C datasets by removing all potentially problematic samples, mean that so few dates remain in some locations that accurate chronologies cannot be established. 14C dates on charcoal can be affected by an ‘old-wood’ effect, and so they are often removed from analyses, despite >40,000 being available worldwide, representing > $25 million. We show that when a Bayesian chronological model is used, which incorporates an Outlier Model specific to wood charcoal, the 14C dataset of Iceland's Viking Age settlement agrees well with ice core-dated tephrochronology and written sources. Greatest accuracy comes from an even temporal distribution of 14C dates and more dates lead to greater precision (<20 years). This shows how charcoal-based 14C chronologies can pinpoint the transformational human settlement of islands in the Atlantic, Oceania, and elsewhere.

Item ID: 77055
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1871-1014
Keywords: Island archaeology, East Polynesia, Iceland, chronometric hygiene, tephrochronology, Bayesian Outlier models
Copyright Information: © 2018 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2022 03:30
FoR Codes: 43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4301 Archaeology > 430101 Archaeological science @ 30%
37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3705 Geology > 370502 Geochronology @ 70%
SEO Codes: 21 INDIGENOUS > 2112 Pacific Peoples heritage and culture > 211201 Conserving Pacific Peoples heritage and culture @ 100%
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