Chronometric Precision and Accuracy: Radiocarbon and Luminescence Age Estimates for Pacific Northwest Cooking Features

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Department or Administrative Unit

Anthropology and Museum Studies

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Advances in chronometric dating are needed to refine chronologies and models of cultural change, and bridging arguments are needed to link age estimates with cultural events. We compare three dating approaches using matched samples from cooking features at three sites in the Puget Sound, finding that luminescence dates for fire-modified rock (FMR), and radiocarbon dates on calcined bone are congruent with radiocarbon dates for charcoal. Dates derived from different media on single features are often within 100 years of each other. We discuss the relative advantages of each type of dating. Calcined bone survives well in acidic soils and yields reliable, accurate, and highly precise age estimates. Luminescence dating is highly accurate, especially if the FMR was sufficiently heated, but has low precision. Calcined bone and FMR should be dated more often, and dated together when charcoal cannot be relied upon. Such practice will allow us to better mark and explain rates of economic changes by locale and region.


This article was originally published in Canadian Journal of Archaeology.

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Canadian Journal of Archaeology