The Chemical Variability of Carbonized Organic Matter through Time

Author(s): Douglas Frink

Year: 1992


The interdependent dynamics of climate, biota, relief, parent material and time affect the evolution of both soils and archaeological remains within the soil. Carbonized organic matter, charcoal, is one class of archaeological material subject to these environmental factors. Although charcoal is generally presumed to be immune to environmental influences, chemical analyses of feature soils containing charcoal from archaeological sites throughout New England demonstrate its susceptibility to the effects of environmental factors. Calculation of a formula of the interdependent dynamics of these environmental factors provides some understanding of the specific influences of each factor. This formula, when expressed in terms of the factor time, provides an independent, inexpensive and accurate means to determine the age of archaeological charcoal. The low cost and ease of this procedure is well-suited to environmental, geological and archaeological disciplines. Since this is a chemical procedure,

relatively young charcoal can be dated without the problems found in radiocarbon dating of young charcoal.

Cite this Record

The Chemical Variability of Carbonized Organic Matter through Time. Douglas Frink. Archaeology of Eastern North America. 20: 67-79. 1992 ( tDAR id: 391836) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8BK1FJP

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Radiocarbon Date: 7940 to 250 (Radiocarbon dates)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -73.707; min lat: 41.311 ; max long: -65.753; max lat: 46.83 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): Eastern States Archeological Federation

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