All archaeologists should be aware of the fact that they are dating organic samples, and it is the archaeological context of that sample that determines its relationship to the site’s age.If the contextual association of the sample to the site is poor or if there are taphonomic effects that have compromised the sample’s integrity, the accuracy of the date relative to the archaeological occupation will be poor, even if the date is precise (e.g., ±10 years).Egalement, les âges radiocarbone de calibration, issue de périodes critiques de la préhistoire africaine, manque la précision nécessaire pour résoudre des débats importants.Une stratégie de datation multiple et une sélection rigoureuse des matériaux d’échantillons de radiocarbone sont conseillées dès les premières étapes de la conception de la recherche.Like all continents, Africa has a heterogeneous geography and should not be viewed as a single “place.” However, in the context of this review, it will become obvious that there are issues unique to radiocarbon dating in Africa that overlap other areas of the world, but combine to create circumstances specific to the continent given the history of research conducted therein.Interested readers are urged to read more general reviews of radiocarbon dating, which discuss issues more exhaustively and globally (e.g., Bronk Ramsey ).Legacy radiocarbon ages must be critically examined for what method was used to generate the age, and calibration radiocarbon ages from critical periods of African prehistory lack precision to resolve significant debates.A multipronged dating strategy and careful selection of radiocarbon sample materials are advocated from the earliest stages of research design. Cette revue fournit les archéologues africanistes avec des appréciations et des mises en garde sur l’utilisation des âges radiocarbone.
Specifically, the review will concentrate on the potential of carbon reservoirs and recycled organic remains to inflate apparent age estimates, diagenesis of carbon isotopes in variable p H ecologies, and hot-humid climates and non-climate-controlled archives that can compromise the efficacy of samples.
However, my own experience indicates that there is a lack of understanding of what, specifically, is being measured from samples; what is involved in the atmosphere-to-biosphere production, retention, and decay of radiocarbon; and what should and should not be dated from archaeological deposits using radiocarbon dating techniques.
Therefore, I will introduce the topic with a brief summary suitable for advanced students and archaeological professionals..
The factors discussed below are challenges of which all Africanists must be keenly aware, but there are additional considerations that are more generally applicable, yet no less relevant (e.g., Bayliss Diagenesis is a process in which the chemical components of a substance are altered from their primary states.
As it applies to radiocarbon dating, diagenesis compromises carbon isotopes as (usually bone) tissues of the decomposing organisms interact with fluids present in soil (Hedges ).