Skip to main content

Laboratory Intercomparison of Pleistocene Bone Radiocarbon Dating Protocols

  • Matthias Huels (a1), Johannes van der Plicht (a2), Fiona Brock (a3) (a4), Simon Matzerath (a5) (a6) and David Chivall (a3)...

Since its invention in the late 1940s, radiocarbon (14C) dating has become an important tool for absolute dating. A prerequisite for the acceptance of this method is consistency between, and compatibility of, 14C dates from different laboratories. To meet these requirements, international laboratory intercomparison studies with different sample materials are frequently performed (e.g. TIRI, FIRI, VIRI and, most recently, SIRI).Intercomparison is especially relevant and difficult for samples close to the dating limit of ~50 kBP, not least for bone samples. A 14C intercomparison study between the Leibniz-Laboratory in Kiel (Germany), the Center for Isotope Research (CIO) in Groningen (the Netherlands), and the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU, United Kingdom) was performed on three Pleistocene (MIS3) mammal bone samples from the Brick Quarry site Coenen (BQC) in Germany. The comparison of individually prepared and measured bone collagen 14C activities, results from shared collagen measurements, and respective background signatures and correction points to the latter as the main factor responsible for observed differences in final given radiocarbon estimates.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email:
Hide All

Selected Papers from the 8th Radiocarbon & Archaeology Symposium, Edinburgh, UK, 27 June–1 July 2016

Hide All
Aerts-Bijma AT, Meijer HAJ, van der Plicht J. 1997. AMS sample handling in Groningen. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 123(1–4):221225.
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, Higham T, Bowles A, Hedges R. 2004a. Improvements to the pretreatment of bone at Oxford. Radiocarbon 46(1):155163.
Bronk Ramsey C, Higham T, Leach P. 2004b. Towards high-precision AMS: progress and limitations. Radiocarbon 46(1):1724.
Dee M, Ramsey CB. 2000. Refinement of graphite target production at ORAU. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 172:449453.
Dobberstein RC, Collins MJ, Craig OE, Taylor G, Penkman KEH, Ritz-Timme S. 2009. Archaeological collagen: Why worry about collagen diagenesis? Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 1:3142.
Grootes PM, Nadeau M-J, Rieck A. 2004. 14C AMS at the Leibniz-Labor: radiocarbon dating and isotope research. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 223–224:5561.
Higham T, Bronk Ramsey C, Karavanić I, Smith FH, Trinkaus E. 2006. Revised direct radiocarbon dating of the Vindija G1 Upper Paleolithic Neandertals. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 103(3):553557.
Huels CM, Grootes PM, Nadeau M-J. 2007. How clean is ultrafiltration cleaning of bone collagen? Radiocarbon 49(2):193200.
Huels CM, Grootes PM, Nadeau M-J. 2009. Ultrafiltration: boon or bane? Radiocarbon 51(2):613625.
Huels CM, Rakowski AZ, Nadeau M-J, Grootes PM. 2014. Background correction for organic samples in Leibniz-Laboratory. Poster presentation at AMS-13 conference, 25–29 August 2014, Aix-en-Provence, France.
Longin R. 1971. New method of collagen extraction for radiocarbon dating. Nature 230(5291):241242.
Lehmkuhl F, Zens J, Krauß L, Schulte P, Kels H. 2016. Loess-paleosol sequences at the northern European loess belt in Germany: distribution, geomorphology and stratigraphy. Quaternary Science Reviews 153:1130.
Matzerath S, Turner E, Fischer P, van der Plicht J. 2012. Radiokohlenstoffdatierte Megafauna aus dem Interpleniglazial der westlichen Niederrheinischen Bucht, Deutschland – Die Funde aus dem Löss der Ziegeleigrube Coenen (Kreis Düren). [Radiocarbon-dated megafauna from the Interpleniglacial in the western Lower Rhine Embayment, Germany – The findings from the loess deposits in the Coenen brick quarry (District of Düren).] Quartär 59:4766 In German.
Mook WG, Streurman HJ. 1983. Physical and chemical aspects of radiocarbon dating. PACT 8:3155.
Nadeau M-J, Grootes PM, Schleicher M, Hasselberg P, Rieck A, Bitterling M. 1998. Sample throughput and data quality at the Leibniz-Labor AMS Facility. Radiocarbon 40(1):239245.
Nadeau M-J, Schleicher M, Grootes PM, Erlenkeuser H, Gottdang A, Mous DJW, Sarnthein M, Willkomm H. 1997. The Leibniz-Labor AMS facility at the Christian-Albrechts University, Kiel, Germany. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 123:2230.
Nadeau M-J, Grootes PM. 2013. Calculation of the compounded uncertainty of 14C AMS measurements. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 294:420425.
Olsson IU. 1989. The 14C method, its possibilities and some pitfalls. PACT 24:161e177.
Pasteris JD, Wopenka B, Valsami-Jones E. 2008. Bone and tooth mineralization: why apatite? Elements 4:97104.
Rakowski AZ, Huels CM, Schneider R, Dreves A, Meadows J. 2014. Data analysis at Leibniz-Laboratory Kiel: from AMS measurement to radiocarbon age. Poster presentation at AMS-13 conference, 25–29 August 2014, Aix-en-Provence, France.
van der Plicht J, Hogg A. 2006. A note on reporting radiocarbon. Quaternary Geochronology 1:237240.
van der Plicht J, Palstra SWL. 2014. Radiocarbon and mammoth bones: What’s in a date. Quaternary International 406(B):246251.
van Klinken GJ. 1999. Bone collagen quality indicators for paleodietary and radiocarbon measurements. Journal of Archaeological Science 26:687695.
Wißing C, Matzerath S, Turner E, Bocherens H. 2015. Paleoecological and climatic implications of stable isotope results from late Pleistocene bone collagen, Ziegeleigrube Coenen, Germany. Quaternary Research 84:96105.
Wood RE, Ramsey CB, Higham TFG. 2010. Refining background corrections for radiocarbon dating of bone collagen at ORAU. Radiocarbon 52(2):600611.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0033-8222
  • EISSN: 1945-5755
  • URL: /core/journals/radiocarbon
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 71 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 239 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 21st June 2017 - 17th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.