Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL POLYGAMIST: THE REALITY OF RADIOCARBON REPRODUCIBILITY IN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SAMPLES

  • Alex Bayliss (a1) and Peter Marshall (a1)

Abstract

Since 1993 Historic England (and its predecessor English Heritage) has commissioned 9074 radiocarbon (14C) measurements on archaeological samples. Over 80% of these have been interpreted within formal Bayesian statistical models. The multiple strands of reinforcing evidence incorporated in these models provide precise chronologies that make stringent demands on the accuracy of the 14C results included in the analysis. Inter-laboratory replication is consequently a routine part of model construction and validation. We report an analysis of replicate measurements on 1089 archaeological samples. It is clear that laboratory reproducibility accounts for only part of the observed variation. The type of material dated is also critical to the reproducibility of measurements, with some sample types proving particularly problematic.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: peter.marshall@historicengland.org.uk.

Footnotes

Hide All

Selected Papers from the 23rd International Radiocarbon Conference, Trondheim, Norway, 17–22 June, 2018

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Ashmore, PJ. 1999. Radiocarbon dating: avoiding errors by avoiding mixed samples. Antiquity 73(279):124130.
Bayliss, A. 2009. Rolling out revolution: using radiocarbon dating in archaeology. Radiocarbon 51(1):123147.
Bayliss, A, Bronk Ramsey, C. 2004. Pragmatic Bayesians: a decade of integrating radiocarbon dates into chronological models. In: Buck, CE, Millard, A, editors. Tools for constructing chronologies: tools for crossing interdisciplinary boundaries. London: Springer-Verlag. p. 2541.
Bayliss, A, van der Plicht, J, Bronk Ramsey, C, McCormac, FG, Healy, F, Whittle, A. 2011. Towards generational time-scales: the quantitative interpretation of archaeological chronologies. In: Whittle, A, Healy, F, Bayliss, A, editors. Gathering time: dating the early Neolithic enclosures of southern Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxbow. p. 1759.
Bayliss, A, Beavan, N, Hamilton, D, Köhler, K, Nyerges, ÉÁ, Bronk Ramsey, C, Dunbar, E, Fecher, M, Goslar, T, Kromer, B, Reimer, P, Bánffy, E, Marton, T, Oross, K, Osztás, A, Zalai-Gaál, I, Whittle, A. 2016. Peopling the past: creating a site biography in the Hungarian Neolithic. Bericht der Römisch-Germanischen Kommission 94:2391.
Bayliss, A, Marshall, P, Tyers, C, Bronk Ramsey, C, Cook, G, Freeman, SPHT, Griffiths, S. 2017. Informing conservation: towards 14 C wiggle-matching of short tree-ring sequences from medieval buildings in England. Radiocarbon 59:9851007.
Blaauw, M, Christen, JA. 2011. Flexible paleoclimate age-depth models using autoregressive gamma process. Bayesian Analysis 6(3):457–74.
Brock, F, Ramsey, CB, Higham, TFG. 2007. Quality assurance of ultrafiltered bone dating. Radiocarbon 49(2):187–92.
Brock, F, Higham, T, Ditchfield, P, Bronk Ramsey, C. 2010. Current pretreatment methods for AMS radiocarbon dating at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). Radiocarbon 52(1):103112.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 1994. Analysis of chronological information and radiocarbon calibration: the program OxCal. Archaeological Computing Newsletter 41:1116.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2008. Deposition models for chronological records. Quaternary Science Reviews 27:4260.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2009a. Bayesian analysis of radiocarbon dates. Radiocarbon 51(1):337360.
Bronk Ramsey, C. 2009b. Dealing with outliers and offsets in radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon 51(3):10231045.
Bronk Ramsey, C, Higham, TFG, Owen, DC, Pike, AWG, Hedges, REM. 2002. Radiocarbon dates from the Oxford AMZ System: Archaeometry Datelist 31. Archaeometry 44(s1):1150.
Brown, TA, Nelson, DE, Vogel, JS, Southon, JR. 1988. Improved collagen extraction by modified Longin method. Radiocarbon 30(2):171–177.
Brunning, R. 2013. Somerset’s peatland archaeology. Managing and investigating a fragile resource. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Casanova, E, Knowles, TDJ, Williams, C, Crump, MP, Evershed, RP. 2018. Practical considerations in high-precision compound-specific radiocarbon dating: eliminating the effects of solvent and sample cross-contamination on accuracy and precision. Analytical Chemistry 90:1102511032.
Dunbar, E, Cook, GT, Naysmith, P, Tipney, BG, Xu, S. 2016. AMS 14 C dating at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory Radiocarbon 58(1):923.
Haslett, J, Parnell, A. 2008. A simple monotone process with application to radiocarbon-dated depth chronologies. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series C (Applied Statistics) 57(4):399418.
Hedges, REM, Tiemei, C, Housley, RA. 1992. Results and methods in the radiocarbon dating of pottery. Radiocarbon 34(3):906915.
Lanting, JN, Aerts-Bijma, AT, van der Plicht, J. 2001. Dating of cremated bone. Radiocarbon 43(2A):249254.
Longin, R. 1971. New method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230:241242.
Mann, WB. 1983. An international reference material for radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon 25(2):519527.
Marshall, P, Bayliss, A, Farid, S, Tyers, C, Bronk Ramsey, C, Cook, G, Doğan, T, Freeman, SPHT, İlkmen, E, Knowles, T. 2019. 14 C wiggle-matching of short tree-ring sequences from post-medieval buildings in England. Methods in Physics Research B 438:218226.
Marshall, P, Brunning, R, Coles, J, Minnitt, S, Bronk Ramsey, C, Dunbar, E, Reimer, P. forthcoming. Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before? The date of Glastonbury Lake Village, Somerset, UK. Antiquity.
McCormac, G, Reimer, P, Bayliss, A, Thompson, M, Beavan, N, Brown, D, Hoper, S. 2011. Anglo Saxon Chronology Project. Laboratory and quality assurance procedures at the Queen’s University, Belfast Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory. Portsmouth: English Heritage Research Department Report Series 89–2011.
Milner, N, Conneller, C, Taylor, B. 2018a. Star Carr. Vol. 1. A persistent place in a changing world. York: White Rose University Press.
Milner, N, Conneller, C, Taylor, B. 2018b. Star Carr. Vol. 2. Studies in technology, subsistence and environment. York: White Rose University Press.
Mook, WG, Streurman, HJ. 1983. Physical and chemical aspects of radiocarbon dating. In: Mook, WG, Waterbolk, HT, editors. Proceedings of the First International Symposium 14 C and Archaeology: PACT 8. p. 3155.
Naysmith, P, Scott, EM, Cook, GT, Heinemeier, J, van der Plicht, J, van Strydonck, M, Bronk Ramsey, C, Grootes, PM, Freeman, SPHT. 2007. A cremated bone intercomparison study. Radiocarbon 49(2):403408.
Reimer, PJ, Hoper, S, McDonald, J, Reimer, R, Svyatko, S, Thompson, M. 2015. The Queen’s University, Belfast: laboratory protocols used for AMS radiocarbon dating at the 14CHRONO Centre. Portsmouth: English Heritage Research Report 5-2015.
Scott, EM. 2003. The third international radiocarbon intercomparison (TIRI) and the fourth international radiocarbon intercomparison (FIRI) 1990–2002: results, analyses, and conclusions. Radiocarbon 45(2):135408.
Scott, EM, Naysmith, P, Cook, GT. 2017. Should archaeologists care about 14 C intercomparisons? Why? A summary report on SIRI. Radiocarbon 59(5):15891596.
Staff, RA, Reynard, L, Brock, F, Ramsey, CB. 2014. Wood pretreatment protocols and measurement of tree-ring standards at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). Radiocarbon 56(2):709715.
Stuiver, M, Reimer, PJ, Braziunas, TF. 1998. High-precision radiocarbon age calibration for terrestrial and marine samples. Radiocarbon 40(3):11271151.
Tyers, C, Sidell, J, van der Plicht, J, Marshall, P, Cook, G, Bronk Ramsey, C, Bayliss, A. 2009. Wiggle-matching using known-age pine from Jermyn Street, London. Radiocarbon 51(2):385396.
van der Plicht, J, Wijma, S, Aerts, AT, Pertuisot, MH, Meijer, HAJ. 2000. Status report: The Groningen AMS facility. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172(1):5865.
van Klinken, GJ. 1999. Bone collagen quality indicators for palaeodietary and radiocarbon measurements. Journal of Archaeological Science 26:687695.
Wacker, L, Bonani, G, Friedrich, M, Hajdas, I, Kromer, B, Němec, M, Ruff, M, Suter, M, Synal, HA, Vockenhuber, C. 2010. MICADAS: routine and high-precision radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon 52(2):252262.
Ward, GK, Wilson, SR. 1978. Procedures for comparing and combining radiocarbon age determinations: a critique. Archaeometry 20(1):1932.
Whittle, A, Healy, F, Bayliss, A. 2011. Gathering time: dating the early Neolithic enclosures of southern Britain and Ireland. Oxford: Oxbow.
Willis, EH, Tauber, H, Münnich, KO. 1960. Variations in the atmospheric radiocarbon concentration over the past 1300 years. Radiocarbon 2:14.
Wright, EV, Hedges, REM, Bayliss, A, Van de Noort, R. 2001. New AMS radiocarbon dates for the North Ferriby boats—a contribution to dating prehistoric seafaring in northwestern Europe. Antiquity 75(290):726734.

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed