Application of Compound-specific Radiocarbon Dating of Hydroxyproline from Bone Collagen

Author(s): Robert Speakman; Alex Cherkinski; Kathy Loftis

Year: 2015


The ability to generate accurate and reliable radiocarbon dates for bone is of great importance in archaeology. Routinely, the age of bones is determined by radiocarbon dating of hydrolyzed bone extract. However, this method does not isolate collagen-derived organic matter, and contaminant organic carbon may be present in the extract. Exogenous organic matter, introduced during burial or post-excavation treatment, can affect the estimated radiocarbon dates. Pre-treatment methods can minimize contamination, but isolation of endogenous carbon is not guaranteed. More recently a compound-specific radiocarbon dating method was developed. This method targets amino acids that originate in the bone sample, such as hydroxyproline. Hydroxyproline is present in limited animal proteins, but is a major amino acid of collagen. As such, this compound serves as a biomarker for bone collagen, thereby yielding more accurate radiocarbon dates. We present our findings of the application of hydroxyproline radiocarbon dating to archaeological bone.

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Cite this Record

Application of Compound-specific Radiocarbon Dating of Hydroxyproline from Bone Collagen. Kathy Loftis, Alex Cherkinski, Robert Speakman. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397789)

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