Charcoal carbon dating

Desmond Clark (1979:7) observed that without radiocarbon dating "we would still be foundering in a sea of imprecisions sometime bred of inspired guesswork but more often of imaginative speculation." And as Colin Renfrew (1973) aptly noted over 30 years ago, the "Radiocarbon Revolution" transformed how archaeologists could interpret the past and track cultural changes through a period in human history where we see among other things the massive migration of peoples settling virtually every major region of the world, the transition from hunting and gathering to more intensive forms of food production, and the rise of city-states.However, as with any dating technique there are limits to the kinds of things that can be satisfactorily dated, levels of precision and accuracy, age range constraints, and different levels of susceptibility to contamination.In order to establish the lower age limit, a representative site of late Liangzhu Culture, the Bianjiashan wharf, located in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang Province, Eastern China, was selected for investigation.Wooden stakes in the wharf and charcoals in the sediment profile near to the wharf site were collected for ).

Regardless of the particular 14C technique used, the value of this tool for archaeology has clearly been appreciated.Located in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the Liangzhu Culture was one of the most important Neolithic cultures at the dawn of Chinese civilization.However, uncertainty over the lower age limit ending the Liangzhu Culture has resulted in a lack of consensus in defining its timespan.The mean age of the more recent calendar calibrated age range BC 2525 for the BC residue is consistent with earlier evidence.The wharf, as a typical structure of the late Liangzhu Culture, was established between Cal BC 26 (95% probability).

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