Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory

BOOKS | 2014

4 October 2015

Radiocarbon Dating. An Archaeological Perspective (Second Edition)

R.E. Taylor & Ofer Bar-Yosef

City: Walnut Creek, California

Year: 2014

Publisher: Left Coast Press

Description: Hardback, 404 p., 78 b/w figures in text, 38 b/w tables, 28,5x22,2 cm

From the preface

This volume represents a second edition of Radiocarbon Dating: An Archaeological Perspective, written in the late 1980s by the first author. The most dramatic advances in 14C studies since that time have included the further detailed examination of the relationship between radiocarbon time and solar (“real” or calendar) time, particularly the extension of the calibration of the radiocarbon time scale into the late Pleistocene; the further definition of the character of the short-term changes in atmospheric 14C activity at various points along the 14C time scale; and the continuing development of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), with the resulting increase in the number of 14C measurements obtained on targeted chemical and molecular fractions extracted in milligram and microgram quantities. Also, the large 14C data sets that can now be efficiently obtained with the use of AMS-based measurements of samples excavated from stratigraphic and other sequential contexts have resulted in the increasingly frequent use of Bayesian statistics.

In addition, over the last three decades, a number of additional areas of scientific research have begun to use 14C data to further their research goals. These include the ability to use natural or near natural levels of 14C as a tracer isotope in biomedical applications using AMS technology. The “Radiocarbon Revolution,” so appropriately characterized by Colin Renfrew as beginning in archaeological science five decades ago, has now spread to a number of other scientific disciplines.

The principal purpose of this volume, as was its predecessor, is to provide an introduction and review of the major advances and accomplishments of the 14C method from an archaeological perspective, with the specific focus of attention on an analysis of those factors that can affect the accuracy and precision of 14C-based age estimates. A number of literature citations published in the earlier edition have been retained in this volume to provide historical context and continuity in the development of ideas concerning various aspects of the application of 14C dating in archaeological studies.


List of Illustrations and Tables [9]
Foreword [12]
Preface [15]

Chapter 1. Basic Elements [19]
1.1. Fundamentals [19]
1.2. Assumptions [25]
1.3. Conventions and Definitions [26]
1.4. Radiocarbon Cycle [29]
1.5. Prominent Applications: Scientific and Historic [34]

Chapter 2. Major Anomalies [43]
2.1. Assumption Anomalies [43]
2.2. Systemic Elements: Secular Variation Effects [44]
2.3. Systemic Elements: Reservoir Effects [60]
2.4. Contamination and Fractionation Effects [61]
2.5. Recent and Anthropogenic Anomalies [62]

Chapter 3. Samples and Sample Pretreatment [65]
3.1. Major Issues [65]
3.2. Standard Samples [65]
3.3. Nonstandard Samples [83]
3.4. Problematic Samples [89]
3.5. Sample Pretreatment Strategies [92]
3.6. Sample Amounts and Associated Data [94]
3.7. Concluding Observations [96]

Chapter 4. Measurement of Natural Radiocarbon [98]
4.1. Radioactivity [98]
4.2. Radioactivity Measurement Instruments [100]
4.3. Measuring Natural Radiocarbon [103]
4.4. Decay/Beta Counting Systems [106]
4.5. Direct/Ion Counting Systems: Accelerator Mass Spectrometry [111]
4.6. Radiocarbon Age Calculations [121]
4.7. Statistical Constraints [127]

Chapter 5. Critical Evaluation of Radiocarbon Data [130]
5.1. General Principles [130]
5.2. Sample Provenience Factors [132]
5.3. Sample Composition Factors [136]
5.4. Statistical and Experimental Factors [144]
5.5. Systemic Factors [149]
5.6. Radiocarbon Age Estimates: Critical Evaluations [157]
5.7. Case Study I: Shroud of Turin [162]
5.8. Concluding Observations [169]

Chapter 6. Radiocarbon Dating in Old World Archaeology [172]
6.1. Introduction [172]
6.2. The Demise of the Neanderthals and Early Modern Humans [175]
6.3. The Colonization of Sahul (New Guinea and Australia) [188]
6.4. The Emergence of Pottery in Hunting and Gathering Societies in East Asia [191]
6.5. The Origins of Agriculture in Western Asia [197]
6.6. The Impact of the “8200 cal BP Cold Event” on Prehistoric Societies in the Near East [207]
6.7. Case Study II: Santorini Eruption and Its Archaeological Implications [213]
6.8. Case Study III: King David and the Iron Age Chronological Debate [219]

Chapter 7. Radiocarbon Dating in New World Archaeology [225]
7.1. Orbe Novo [225]
7.2. Pre-14C Chronologies [226]
7.3. Paleoamerican [228]
7.4. Eastern North America [243]
7.5. Western North America [246]
7.6. Case Study IV: Kennewick Skeleton (USA) [247]
7.7. Southwestern United States [251]
7.8. Mesoamerica [251]
7.9. South America [254]
7.10. Case Study V: Monte Verde (Chile) [258]
7.11. Concluding Observations [261]

Chapter 8. Radiocarbon Dating: Origin and Evolution [263]
8.1. Discovery of Radiocarbon [263]
8.2. Libby at Berkeley: 1927-1941 [265]
8.3. Libby at the Manhattan Project: 1941-1945 [269]
8.4. Libby at Chicago: 1945-1954 [270]
8.5. Critical Experiments and Developments: 1946-1948 [274]
8.6. Dating Unknown Age Samples [286]
8.7. Radiocarbon Dating Comes of Age [288]
8.8. AMS Origins and Initial Development [291]
8.9. Arnold and Anderson Post-14C Scientific Careers [294]
8.10. Continuing Objections [295]

Chapter 9. Radiocarbon Dating: Guide to Bibliographic Sources [299]
9.1. General Issues [299]
9.2. Bibliographies [299]
9.3. Reviews and Summaries [300]
9.4. The Journal Radiocarbon [301]
9.5. Databases [302]
9.6. Conferences [304]
9.7. Calibration [304]
9.8. Concluding Observations [304]

References and Notes [307]
References Cited [331]
Index [395]
About the Authors [404]


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