Anthropology

Direct Dating of Pots

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Science  19 Sep 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5640, pp. 1631
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5640.1631b

Pottery is often dated indirectly by relying on carbon-14 analysis of proximal bone or seed or through dendrochronology. Such materials are not always available, or their own histories are confused, so there is a need to date such materials based on the organic material in or on the surface of the pottery itself. Stott et al. adapted a compound-specific method that isolates particular lipids and dates pottery on the basis of materials that would have been processed in vessels, such as animal fats. Lipid extracts were subjected to preparative capillary gas chromatography to extract individual fractions of n-hexadecanoic (C16) and n-octadecadonic (C18) acids with high purity (>95%) and in sufficient quantity (>200 mg) for accelerator mass spectrometric analysis of 14C. Analyses were performed relative to analytical blanks for vessels from the medieval, Roman, and Neolithic periods. The best correlations with other associated ages were seen for the C18 acids; the C16 acids tended to give slightly younger ages that could be explained by the greater mobility of the shorter chain acid. — PDS

Anal. Chem. 10.1021/ac020743y (2003).

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