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Compund-specific radiocarbon, stable carbon isotope and biomarker analysis of mixed marine/terrestrial lipids preserved in archaeological pottery vessels

Casanova, Emmanuelle, Knowles, Timothy D., Ford, Candice, Cramp, Lucy, Sharples, Niall and Evershed, Richard P. 2020. Compund-specific radiocarbon, stable carbon isotope and biomarker analysis of mixed marine/terrestrial lipids preserved in archaeological pottery vessels. Presented at: 9th Radiocarbon & Archaeology Symposium, Athens, GA, United States, 20-24 May 2019. Cambridge University Press, 10.1017/RDC.2020.11

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Abstract

At archaeological sites located on islands or near the coast, the potential exists for lipid extracts of potsherds to contain fatty acids (FA) from both aquatic and terrestrial organisms, meaning that consideration must be given to marine reservoir effects (MRE) in radiocarbon (14C) analyses. Here we studied the site of Bornais (Outer Hebrides, UK) where a local MRE, ΔR of –65 ± 45 yr was determined through the paired 14C determinations of terrestrial and marine faunal bones. Lipid analysis of 49 potsherds, revealed aquatic biomarkers in 45% of the vessels, and δ13C values of C16:0 and C18:0 FAs revealed ruminant and marine product mixing for 71% of the vessels. Compound-specific 14C analysis (CSRA) of FAs yielded intermediate 14C ages between those of terrestrial and marine bones from the same contexts, confirming an MRE existed. A database containing δ13C values for FAs from reference terrestrial and marine organisms provided endmembers for calculating the percentage marine-derived C (%marine) in FAs. We show that lipid 14C dates can be corrected using determined %marine and ΔR values, such that pottery vessels from coastal locations can be 14C dated by CSRA of FAs.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Published Online
Status: In Press
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0033-8222
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 14:30
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/132465

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