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. 2020 Mar 18;6(12):eaaz1096.
doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1096. eCollection 2020 Mar.

Mediterranean Radiocarbon Offsets and Calendar Dates for Prehistory

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Free PMC article

Mediterranean Radiocarbon Offsets and Calendar Dates for Prehistory

Sturt W Manning et al. Sci Adv. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

A single Northern Hemisphere calibration curve has formed the basis of radiocarbon dating in Europe and the Mediterranean for five decades, setting the time frame for prehistory. However, as measurement precision increases, there is mounting evidence for some small but substantive regional (partly growing season) offsets in same-year radiocarbon levels. Controlling for interlaboratory variation, we compare radiocarbon data from Europe and the Mediterranean in the second to earlier first millennia BCE. Consistent with recent findings in the second millennium CE, these data suggest that some small, but critical, periods of variation for Mediterranean radiocarbon levels exist, especially associated with major reversals or plateaus in the atmospheric radiocarbon record. At high precision, these variations potentially affect calendar dates for prehistory by up to a few decades, including, for example, Egyptian history and the much-debated Thera/Santorini volcanic eruption.

Figures

Fig. 1
Fig. 1. Hd 14C data and comparisons.
(A) Hd and some Mannheim (MAMS) data on known-age Turkish pine (TuP), German oak (GeO), and Irish oak (IrO) (table S1) compared with the IntCal13 calibration curve (4) and Oxford (OxA) and Arizona (AA) data on Jordan juniper (JJ) (18). Calendar dates B.P. (before the present) (from 1950 CE) are shown. The differences [weighted averages (wAV)] in 14C age between the pairs of data from time series of similar blocks of tree rings with the same midpoint age from GeO, high-elevation TuP, and IrO all measured at Hd are shown. All error bars shown and band width are 1 SD. (B) Hd Gordion (GOR) juniper data compared with Hd GeO for the second to first millennia BCE (1 SD error bars) and placed against the IntCal98 (1), IntCal04 (2), and IntCal13 calibration curves (1 SD) (4). The inset shows the “wiggle-match” fit of the tree ring sequenced Hd GOR dataset versus IntCal04 using OxCal (39); the best fit is the same against IntCal98 (1) and 1 year older versus IntCal13 (4).
Fig. 2
Fig. 2. Comparisons of the 1- or 0.5-year linear interpolated Hd GOR dataset with other NH calibration datasets.
(A) Comparison of the Hd GOR dataset placed as in Fig. 1B (3686 cal B.P., 1737 BCE) versus the IntCal98 (1) and IntCal04 (2) calibration curves. Differences (weighted averages) in 14C years are indicated overall and for nine periods where larger positive offsets are apparent for ≥95% of ≥20 consecutive years. (B) Comparison of the Hd GOR and Hd GeO time series. The overall difference is shown, and the larger positive offsets apparent 3549.5 to 3516 cal B.P. and 3549.5 to 3486.5 cal B.P. are indicated. All error bands shown are 1 SD.
Fig. 3
Fig. 3. Comparison of the NOC and OYM data versus Hd GeO, Hd GOR, IntCal13 (1 SD band), and AA BCP and AA IrO (13).
(A) GrM data (weighted averages) on the NOC oak samples (table S1) as best placed (μ ± σ) via a wiggle match (39) versus Hd GOR (Fig. 2A). (B) The GrM, UGAMS, and Tübitak data on the OYM pine sample (table S1) shown as best placed (μ ± σ) versus IntCal13 (4). The shaded areas indicate (A) the earlier 16th century BCE offset in the NOC and Hd GOR data and (B) the mixed GrM and UGAMS signal for OYM versus IntCal13.
Fig. 4
Fig. 4. Two example chronological ramifications from the Mediterranean 14C record and offsets indicated by the Hd GOR dataset.
(A) Egyptian date series as reported and placed against IntCal04 (23) compared with Hd GOR curve from Fig. 2A (curves are shown as 1 SD bands, and data were plotted as 1 SD ranges of 14C ages and modeled calendar age ranges). Data that are almost certain to be outliers (23) have white center points. Cyan box indicates weighted average 14C (1 SD) and calendar range for Tutankhamun (Tut). Inset: Modeled placement 68.2 and 95.4% highest posterior density (hpd) of Tut against IntCal13 (4) from the OxCal model in (24) and compared with IntCal04 (2) and Hd GOR (Fig. 2A). (B) The difference in 13th century BCE dating probability comparing the calendar age probabilities for 3035 ± 15 14C years B.P. from the Hd GOR data (Fig. 2A) versus IntCal13 calibration curve (4). Data from OxCal (59) with curve resolution set to 1 year.
Fig. 5
Fig. 5. Calendar dating probability estimates for the Santorini/Thera volcanic destruction level from the data and models in (55) (cyan) and (56) (magenta) and the olive branch outer dated segment (13, 54, 58) (green) given changing calibration scenarios (39, 59).
(A to C) With Hd GOR calibration dataset in Fig. 2A. (D and E) Application of a hypothetical addition of +10 14C years to Hd GOR to reflect a putative AMS 14C offset to LLGPC measurements. (F and G) Application of a hypothetical +15 14C years. (H and I) Application of a hypothetical +20 14C years. (J and K) Application a hypothetical +25 14C years. Main hpd regions are those contiguous intervals identified within the overall 95.4% hpd ranges.
Fig. 6
Fig. 6. Hypothetical calendar dating probability estimates for the Santorini/Thera volcanic destruction level from the data and models in (55) (cyan) and (56) (magenta) and the olive branch outer dated segment (13, 54, 58) (green) using a likely maximum possible change scenario.
(A to C) With AA BCP calibration dataset (13) with a curve resolution of 5 years (smoothing the noisy 1-year data). (D to F) Application of a hypothetical further addition of +21 14C years ~3550 to 3486 cal B.P. (1601 to 1537 BCE) to reflect the positive Mediterranean offset (Fig. 2B); curve resolution, 5 years (smoothing the noisy 1-year data). Main hpd regions are those contiguous intervals identified within the overall 68.2 and 95.4% hpd ranges.

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