Skip to main content

Preparation and Dating of Mortar Samples—Mortar Dating Inter-Comparison Study (MODIS)

  • Irka Hajdas (a1), Alf Lindroos (a2), Jan Heinemeier (a3), Åsa Ringbom (a4), Fabio Marzaioli (a5), Filippo Terrasi (a5), Isabella Passariello (a5), Manuela Capano (a5), Gilberto Artioli (a6), Anna Addis (a6), Michele Secco (a6), Danuta Michalska (a7), Justyna Czernik (a8), Tomasz Goslar (a8) (a9), Roald Hayen (a10), Mark Van Strydonck (a10), Laurent Fontaine (a10), Mathieu Boudin (a10), Francesco Maspero (a11), Laura Panzeri (a12), Anna Galli (a13), Petra Urbanová (a14) and Pierre Guibert (a14)...

Seven radiocarbon laboratories: Åbo/Aarhus, CIRCE, CIRCe, ETHZ, Poznań, RICH, and Milano-Bicocca performed separation of carbonaceous fractions suitable for 14C dating of four mortar samples selected for the MOrtar Dating Inter-comparison Study (MODIS). In addition, optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) analyses were completed by Milano-Bicocca and IRAMAT-CRP2A Bordeaux. Each laboratory performed separation according to laboratory protocol. Results of this first intercomparison show that even though consistent 14C ages were obtained by different laboratories, two mortars yielded ages different than expected from the archaeological context.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author. Email:
Hide All

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

Hide All
Addis, A, Secco, M, Preto, N, Marzaioli, F, Passariello, I, Brogiolo, GP, Chavarria Arnau, A, Artioli, G, Terrasi, F. 2016. New strategies for radiocarbon dating of mortars: Multi-step purification of the lime binder. Proceedings of 4th Historic Mortars, Santorini, Greece 10–12 October 2016.
Aitken, MJ. 1985. Thermoluminescence Dating. London: Academic Press. 267 p.
Bell, WT. 1979. Attenuation factors to absorbed dose in quartz inclusions for thermoluminescence dating. Ancient TL 8:213.
Binda, I, Baronio, G. 1988. Survey of brick-binder adhesion in ‘powdered brick’ mortars and plasters, Masonry International Journal 2: pp. 8792.
Fahrni, SM, Gaggeler, HW, Hajdas, I, Ruff, M, Szidat, S, Wacker, L. 2010. Direct measurements of small C-14 samples after oxidation in quartz tubes. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 268:787789.
Folk, RL, Valastro, S. 1976. Successful technique for dating of lime mortar by carbon-14 J. Field Archaeology 3(2)203208.
Folk, RL, Valastro, S. 1979. Dating of lime mortar by 14C. In: Berger R, Suess H, editors. Radiocarbon Dating: Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference. Berkeley: University of California Press. p 721730.
Goslar, T, Nawrocka, D, Czernik, J. 2009. Foraminiferous limestones in 14C dating of mortar. Radiocarbon 51(2):857866.
Goedicke, C. 2011. Dating mortar by optically stimulated luminescence: a feasibility study. Geochronometria 38(1):4249.
Goedicke, C. 2003. Dating historical calcite mortar by blue OSL: results from known age samples. Radiation Measurements 37:409415.
Guérin, G, Myank, J, Thomsen, K, Murray, A, Mercier, N. 2015. Modelling dose rate to single grains of quartz in well-sorted sand samples: the dispersion arising from the presence of potassium feldspars and implications for single grain OSL dating. Quaternary Geochronology 27:5265.
Guibert, P, Schvoerer, M. 1991. TL-dating: Low background gamma spectrometry as a tool for the determination of the annual dose. Nuclear Tracks and Radiation Measurements 14:155161.
Hajdas, I, Trumm, J, Bonani, G, Biechele, C, Maurer, M, Wacker, L. 2012. Roman ruins as an experiment for radiocarbon dating of mortar. Radiocarbon 54(3–4):897903.
Hayen, R, Van Strydonck, M, Boaretto, E, Lindroos, A, Heinemeier, J, Ringbom, Å, Hueglin, S, Michalska, D, Hajdas, I, Marzaoili, F, Maspero, F, Galli, A, Artioli, G, Moreau, Ch, Guibert, P, Caroselli, M. 2016. Absolute dating of mortars – integrating chemical and physical techniques to characterize and select the mortar samples. Proceedings of the 4th Historic Mortars Conference - HMC2016. 656667.
Hayen, R, Van Strydonck, M, Fontaine, L, Boudin, M, Lindroos, A, Heinemeier, J, Ringbom, Å, Michalska, D, Hajdas, I, Hueglin, S, Marzaioli, F, Terrasi, F, Passariello, I, Capano, M, Maspero, F, Panzeri, L, Galli, A, Artioli, G, Addis, A, Secco, M, Boaretto, E, Moreau, C, Guibert, P, Urbanova, P, Czernik, J, Goslar, T, Caroselli, M. 2017. Mortar dating methodology: intercomparison of available methods. Radiocarbon 59(6):this volume.
Heinemeier, J, Jungner, H, Lindroos, A, Ringbom, Å, von Konow, T, Rud, N. 1997. AMS 14C dating of lime mortar. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 123:487495.
Heinemeier, J, Ringbom, Å, Lindroos, A, Sveinbjörnsdóttir, ÁE. 2010. Successful AMS 14C dating of non-hydraulic lime mortars from the medieval churches of the Åland Islands, Finland. Radiocarbon 52(1):171204.
Hodgins, G, Lindroos, A, Ringbom, Å, Heinemeier, J, Brock, F. 2011. 14C dating of roman Mortars – preliminary tests using diluted hydrochloric acid injected in batches. Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 128:209213.
Labeyrie, J, Delibrias, G. 1964. Dating of old mortars by the carbon-14 method. Nature 201(4920):742.
Lichtenberger, A, Lindroos, A, Raja, R, Heinemeier, J. 2015. Radiocarbon analysis of mortar from Roman and Byzantine water management installations in the Northwest Quarter of Jerash, Jordan. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 2:114127.
Lindroos, A, Heinemeier, J, Ringbom, Å, Braskén, M, Sveinbjörnsdóttir, Á. 2007. Mortar dating using AMS 14C and sequential dissolution: examples from medieval, non-hydraulic lime mortars from the Åland Islands, SW Finland. Radiocarbon 49(1):4767.
Lindroos, A, Heinemeier, J, Ringbom, Å, Brock, F, Sonck-Koota, P, Pehkonen, M, Suksi, J. 2011. Problems in radiocarbon dating of Roman Pozzolana mortars. In: Ringbom Å, Hohlfelder R, editors. Building Roma Aeterna. Current research on Roman Mortar and Concrete. Proceedings of the conference March 27–29, 2008. Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 128: 214–30.
Martin, L, Mercier, N, Incerti, S, Lefrais, Y, Pecheyran, C, Guérin, G, Jarry, M, Bruxelles, L, Bon, F, Pallier, C. 2015. Dosimetric study of sediments at the beta dose rate scale: characterization and modelization with the DosiVox software. Radiation Measurements 81:134141. DOI: 10.1016/j.radmeas.2015.02.008.8.
Marzaioli, F, Lubritto, C, Nonni, S, Passariello, I, Capano, M, Terrasi, F. 2011. Mortar radiocarbon dating: Preliminary accuracy evaluation of a novel methodology. Analytical Chemistry 83(6):20382045.
Marzaioli, F, Nonni, S, Passariello, I, Capano, M, Ricci, P, Lubritto, C, De Cesare, N, Eramo, G, Castillo, JAQ, Terrasi, F. 2013. Accelerator mass spectrometry 14C dating of lime mortars: methodological aspects and field study applications at CIRCE (Italy). Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 294:246251.
Marzaioli, F, Borriello, G, Passariello, I, Lubritto, C, De Cesare, N, D’Onofrio, A, Terrasi, F. 2008. Zinc reduction as an alternative method for AMS radiocarbon dating: Process optimization at CIRCE. Radiocarbon 50(1):139149.
McCrea, JMJ. 1950. Isotopic chemistry of carbonates and a paleo-temperature scale. J. Chem. Phys. 18:849857.
Michalska, D, Czernik, J, Gosar, T. 2017. Methodological aspect of mortars dating (Poznań, Poland, MODIS). Radiocarbon 59(6):submitted.
Michalska, D, Czernik, J. 2015. Carbonates in leaching reactions in context of 14C dating. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 361:431439.
Michalska, D, Pazdur, A, Czernik, J, Szczepaniak, M, Żurakowska, M. 2013. Cretaceous aggregate and reservoir effect in dating of binding materials. Geochronometria 40(1):3341.
Murray, AS, Wintle, A. 2000. Luminescence dating of quartz using an improved single-aliquot regenerative dose protocol. Radiation Measurements 32:523538.
Nawrocka-Michalska, D, Michczyńska, DJ, Pazdur, A, Czernik, J. 2007. Radiocarbon chronology of the ancient settlement on the Golan Heights. Radiocarbon 49(2):625637.
Nawrocka, D, Czernik, J, Goslar, T. 2009. 14C dating of carbonate mortars from Polish and Israeli sites. Radiocarbon 51(2):857866.
Nawrocka, D, Michniewicz, J, Pawlyta, J, Pazdur, A. 2005. Application of radiocarbon method for dating of lime mortars. Geochronometria 24:109115.
Nonni, S, Marzaioli, F, Secco, M, Passariello, I, Capano, M, Lubritto, C, Mignardi, S, Tonghini, C, Terrasi, F. 2013. 14C mortar dating: the case of the Medieval Shayzar Citadel, Syria. Radiocarbon 55(2):514525.
Panzeri, L. 2013. Mortar and surface dating with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL): innovative techniques for the age determination of buildings. Nuovo Cimento della 36(4):205216.
Prescott, JR, Hutton, JT. 1994. Cosmic ray contribution to dose rates for luminescence and ESR dating. Radiation Measurements 23(2-3):497500.
Ringbom, Å, Remmer, C. 1995. Ålands kyrkor, Volym I, Hammarland och Eckerö, Naturvetenskaplig datering. Mariehamn. p 6068.
Ringbom, Å, Heinemeier, J, Lindroos, A, Brock, F. 2011. Mortar dating and roman pozzolana, results and interpretations. In: Ringbom Å, Hohlfelder R, editors. Building Roma Aeterna. Current research on Roman Mortar and Concrete. Proceedings of the conference March 27–29, 2008. Commentationes Humanarum Litterarum 128:187–208.
Ringbom, Å, Lindroos, A, Heinemeier, J, Sonck-Koota, P. 2014. 19 years of mortar dating: learning from experience. Radiocarbon 56(2):619635.
Stuiver, M, Smith, CS. 1965. 6th International Conference on Radiocarbon and Tritium Dating, Pullman, WA. p 338-343.
Van Strydonck, M, Dupas, M, Dauchot-Dehon, M, Pachiaudi, C, Marechal, J. 1983a. A further step in the radiocarbon dating of old mortars: Bull Kon Inst Kunstpatrimonium, v XIX, 1982/83. p 155171.
Van Strydonck, M, Dupas, M, Dauchot-Dehon, M. 1983b. Radiocarbon dating of old mortars. In: Mook WG, Waterbolk HT, editors. 14C and Archaeology, Proceedings. PA C T 8:337343.
Van Strydonck, M, Dupas, M, Dauchot-Dehon, M, Pachiaudi, Ch, Marechal, J. 1986. The influence of contaminating carbonate and the variations of δ13C in mortar dating. Radiocarbon 28(2A):702710.
Van Strydonck, M Boudin, De Mulder, G. 2009. 14C dating of cremated bones: the issue of sample contamination. Radiocarbon 51(2):553568.
Van Strydonck, M, Aramburu, J, Fernández Martínez, A, Alvarez Jurado-Figueroa, M, Boudin, M, De Mulder, G. 2017. Radiocarbon dating of the Son Pellisser lime burial (Calvià, Mallorca). Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 11:471479.
Terrasi, F, De Cesare, N, D’Onofrio, A, Lubritto, C, Marzaioli, F, Passariello, I, Rogalla, D, Sabbarese, C, Borriello, G, Casa, G, Passariello, I. 2008. High precision 14C AMS at CIRCE. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 266:22212224.
Urbanová, P, Hourcade, D, Ney, C, Guibert, P. 2015. Sources of uncertainties in OSL dating of archaeological mortars: the case study of the Roman amphitheatre Palais-Gallien in Bordeaux. Radiation Measurements 72:100110.
Urbanová, P, Delaval, E, Dufresne, P, Lanos, P, Guibert, P. 2016. Multi-method dating of Grimaldi castle foundations in Antibes, France. ArchéoSciences - Revue d’archéométrie 40:1733.
Urbanová, P, Guibert, P. 2017a. A review on Single grain OSL dating of mortars: a methodological study of five reference archaeological sites. Geochronometria. DOI: 10.1515/geochr-2015-0050.
Urbanová, P, Guibert, P. 2017b. La mesure du temps par luminescence : datation de réemplois dans la crypte de Saint Seurin à Bordeaux, dossier « Atelier doctoral. Les remplois en architecture entre Antiquité et Moyen Âge » des. Mélanges de l’École française de Rome, 129, 1.
Vogel, JS, Southon, JR, Nelson, DE, Brown, TA. 1984. Performance of catalytically condensed carbon for use in accelerator mass spectrometry. Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 5:289.
Zacharias, N, Mauz, B, Michael, CT. 2002. Luminescence quartz dating of lime mortars. A first research approach. Radiation Protection Dosimetry 101:379382.
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? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Hajdas et al supplementary material
Table S1

 Word (58 KB)
58 KB


Altmetric attention score

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