BOTANICAL IDENTIFICATION OF WOOD CHARCOAL REMAINS AND RADIOCARBON DATING - NEW EXAMPLES OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE TAXONOMICAL IDENTIFICATIONS PRIOR TO 14C DATING
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This paper illustrates how radiocarbon dating of charcoals could benefit from anthracological analyses. These analyses demonstrate that some charcoal assemblages coming from archaeological sites may encounter the problem of chronologically mixed materials. As a consequence, the charcoal fragments from these contaminated contexts give 14C age measurements that differ from a relative chronology observed at the archaeological site. However, in many occasions the sources of contamination cannot be easily observed during the archaeological fieldworks. For this reason, a taxonomical analysis of charcoal remains carried out before the materials are sent to radiocarbon dating facilities may help to detect some of the stratigraphic disturbances. Furthermore, other advantages of this method are discussed. First, the botanical analysis permits to choose a taxon that better corresponds to the climatic conditions of the site. Second, it is possible to select a plant fragment that represents a short life span.
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