Freshwater reservoir effect variability of bohemian archaeological sites

Title in English Radiocarbon in the Environment III Conference


Year of publication 2021
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The freshwater reservoir effect is always a potential issue when radiocarbon dating shells and bones from sites near rivers or lakes. The paper compares 14C results of herbivore and fish bones, the bones of the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), and shells of river mussels (Unio sp.) from archaeological features of the same expected archaeological age in the rivers of the Bohemian Basin, Czech Republic. In some cases, radiocarbon values from river animals compared to sheep and cattle bones show significant differences in radiocarbon age; this is generally the case when comparing shells of river mussels and herbivore bones, which show a difference up to fifteen hundred years, as well as herbivore and fish bones, indicating a difference up to several hundred years. The turtle bones, when compared to the herbivores, show high variability in radiocarbon age (from almost no difference at all up to several hundred years). The paper debates possible causes of data variability, such as the age of the particular individuals, diet, and local environmental conditions. In addition to the freshwater effect debate, our paper brings new evidence on the temporal occurrence of Emys orbicularis in Czech lands backed up by radiocarbon dating. Being aware of the potential freshwater reservoir effect should increase the requirements for selecting samples for radiocarbon dating.

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