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Standard deviation radiocarbon dating

Editor’s Note: This blog piece is based on an email newsletter sent out earlier this fall to supporters of the successful 2016 Dating Eagle Cave crowdfunding campaign.Author Emily Mc Cuistion is a veteran of the 20 ASWT Eagle Nest Canyon Expeditions.

For the past four years, I have spent summers with the National Park Service in Denali, Alaska and winters in Texas. Black has rightly described me as an itinerant archaeologist, and I describe myself as a generalist—one who is interested in learning about ancient hunter-gatherer people worldwide.Amounts of 14C are effected by the earth’s magnetic field, by solar flares, by major volcanic eruptions, and, in more recent centuries, by the burning of fossil-fuels and by nuclear detonations.How are these variations through time accounted for?The poster presented an investigation of population patterns in Central Texas and the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, using large radiocarbon data sets from each region and comparing the abundance and distribution of dates through time.To this end, I contributed an initial compilation of 490 radiocarbon dates from the Lower Pecos.Aquatic organisms are more complex; they take in dissolved carbon in ocean, lakes, and rivers.Therefore, aquatic organisms, and the terrestrial animals that derive a large part of their diet from aquatic resources, often date to older than their contemporaneous terrestrial counterparts.and by Richard Ross thusly: 8760±150 BP (1σ) 6810 BC 6510-7110 BC (2σ) This notation indicates that the actual age of the materials has a 68% confidence of dating between 8910-8610 RCYBP (150 added to and subtracted from 8760).The 6810 BC date is the mean conventional age estimate (it has been converted to BC from BP by subtracting 1950 from 8760).This interest meshes well with the thesis research path I have embarked on—learning how the radiocarbon record can be used to inform our understanding of the past, both in broad strokes and fine details.These updates are part of my education—an exercise in articulating what I am learning, and an opportunity to share what I am learning with the archaeology community and invested public.

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  1. Editor’s Note This blog piece is based on an email newsletter sent out earlier this fall to supporters of the successful 2016 Dating Eagle Cave crowdfunding campaign.

  2. Is the expected standard deviation based on the counting statistics, the average standard deviation of the individual samples σi Stuiver et. al. Radiocarbon, 1998, Vol. 40 No.3, p.1128. The tree ring data set for the years between 14 used Belfast Irish oak. The University of Washington Seattle data set.

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