Rules for carbon dating

04 May

These methods are complex and labour intensive as they require adaptation of the graphitization procedures and the running of multiple standards and samples of identical size to account for increased risks of contamination. This idea is not new, but recent advances in technology suggest that the stability and reproducibility achieved by the new compact AMS, like the MIni CArbon DAting System (MICADAS), could make them suitable to run very small ( but not on compound specific material such as bone collagen.

However, with decreasing sample sizes comes an increased risk of contamination from the burial environment and from laboratory handling.

The advent of accelerator mass spectrometers (AMS) has revolutionized the field of archaeology but routine AMS dating still requires 60–200 mg of bone, which far exceeds that of small vertebrates or remains which hold a patrimonial value (e.g. Here, we present the first radiocarbon dates obtained from minute amounts of bone (3–60 mg) using a MIni CArbon DAting System (MICADAS).

An optimized protocol allowed us to extract enough material to produce between 0.2 and 1.0 mg of carbon for graphite targets.

Moreover, due to lower counting statistics, precision is usually much lower with the gas ion source than with the graphite target (2% vs.

0.3%) resulting in uncertainties that are unacceptable for most archaeological samples.

Our approach was tested on known-age samples dating back to 40,000 BP, and served as proof of concept.

In effect, they provide us with windows to past societies, and contribute to our knowledge of ancient human evolution and cultural development.

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Because hard tissues can be radiocarbon dated, they are key to establishing the archaeological chronologies, palaeoenvironmental reconstructions and historical-biogeographical processes of the last 50,000 years.

In practice, the manipulation of small bone samples presents several obstacles which are difficult to overcome, especially for ancient (Middle to Upper Paleolithic transition) samples.

Recent advances in graphite sample preparation and AMS capabilities make it possible to now run very small samples (.