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Radiocarbon Dates and New World Chronology

  • Geoffrey Bushnell

It is a commonplace of current archaeology that the publication of radiocarbon dates is revolutionizing our ideas of the past. Dr G. H. S. Bushnell, Curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in the University of Cambridge, England, has already published in ANTIQUITY and elsewhere some of his views on the impact of radiocarbon dating on New World chronology. Here he studies the whole problem in detail. He adopts the useful convention of referring to a date already fully published in the Radiocarbon Supplement to the American Journal of Science simply by its laboratory designation and number {thus K-554 is reading no. 554 of the Copenhagen Laboratory), but in some cases, where the date is not fully published, he gives fuller information.

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1 Hopkins, D. M., ‘Cenozoic History of the Bering Land Bridge’, Science, vol. 129, no. 3362, p. 1519 , 5 June, 1959.

2 The radiocarbon dating evidence for the extinction of the Pleistocene fauna has been treated at length in a recent article, ‘Pleistocene Extinction and Radiocarbon Dating’, by Hester, J. J., in American Antiquity, vol. 26, no. 1, 1960. His chief conclusion is that the majority of the large Pleistocene animals living in herds, viz. Columbian mammoth, horse, camel, some species of bison, and dire wolf, became extinct about 6000 B.C. This does not exclude the possibility that some survived later in isolated pockets, and there is some evidence that mastodon and some ancient species of bison did so.

3 Sample L.24a from Lindemeier, measured by Isotopes Incorporated (10,780 ± 375 years). See ‘Geological Significance of a New Radiocarbon Date from the Lindenmeier Site’, by Haynes, V. and Agogino, G., Proc. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Colorado, no. 9, August, 1960.

4 K-554, M-811.

5 W-915. This date, which was published while this article was in the press, points to an earlier date for man’s first arrival.

6 Y-228.

7 M-204.

8 M-I30.

9 C-907, 908.

10 Y-340.

11 C-687.

12 C-313, 316, 318b, 321, 362, 598.

13 For the bottom of the deposit at the Huaca Prieta, the Lamont Laboratory (Columbia University) has two dates, L-116,A,B. To these and some other older readings, 200 years have to be added for the Suess effect. Deposits in other parts of the coast have produced six readings from the New Zealand Laboratory, not yet fully published, between 1850 and 1300 B.C. See Engel, F., Algunos datos con referencia á los sitios precerámicos de la Costa Peruana, Lima, 1958.

14 New Zealand Laboratory; 5020 years. See Engel, F., ‘Un groupe humain datant de 5000 ans a Paracas, Pérou, Journ. de la Société des Americanistes, Paris, N.S., vol. xlix, 1960.

15 C-75.

16 From the Lamont laboratory. The latest in date is L-268E.

17 From the Pennsylvania laboratory. The latest in date is P-121, 121A, 122.

18 L-335A,B.

19 W-631, 632, 630.

20 Y-585.

21 See Estrada, E., Nuevos Elementos en la Cultura Valdivia, Guayaquil, Ecuador, 1961.

22 C-199.

23 Y-644.

24 The second stage there has been dated about 300 B.C. (C-425), and an equivalent to the first stage at a neighbouring site about 600 B.C. (C-424).

25 M-528 to 536. See Drucker, Heizer and Squier, , ‘Excavations at La Venta, Tabasco, 195;’, Bulletin 170, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Washington, 1959.

26 P-230, 333, 334 to 338, 243 to 245, 247, to 249, 251. See Satterthwaite, and Ralph, , ‘New Radiocarbon Dates and the Maya Correlation Problem’, American Antiquity, vol. 26, no. 2, October, 1960.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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