Research ArticleGEOLOGY

Mediterranean radiocarbon offsets and calendar dates for prehistory

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  18 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 12, eaaz1096
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz1096

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.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances